The Social Medical Centre at Ghardaia consists of three distinct but functionally related elements: · The medical centre which provides dental and general medical facilities as well as specialist programmes such as child and baby-care clinics; · The administration and payments centre which provides offices for medical insurance payments; and · Staff housing for necessary, trained personnel.
The concept is to group the various aspects of medical treatment in one complex and with one management. Constructions had to conform to rigorous regulations concerning seismic movement. The programme for the medical centre was subject to various changes during the construction phase.
The medical centre occupies the south of the site while, to the north, staff housing and the payments centre flank the main pedestrian axis. Each block is designed to respond to its particular brief; however, the architecture of the complex is generated from the same source. The most important influence is the town of Ghardaia, part of the M'zab Valley, which is UNESCO listed. Heavy stone walls, clusters of different, simple volumes, and minimal openings on façades are all in deference to both the historic context and the climate. Circulation and waiting areas are separate for men and women to allow Mozabite women the use of medical facilities without creating conflict with local culture and traditions. Internal courtyards permit light to penetrate the deep plan. The size of the modules, which combine to create the internal layout is dictated by the structural capabilities of indigenous construction techniques and materials. Individual blocks are stepped in plan and in section to create the maximum amount of shade. The complex adopts an architectural vocabulary which emulates that of the town of Ghardaia.