The new Maternity Centre designed by Tamassociati for the NGO Emergency in the beautiful but rough Panshir Valley in Afghanistan is one year old. The Italian NGO has been operating in this area, which has no other medical facilities, since 1999, when it converted a former military barracks into a Surgery Centre for war victims, expanded in 2003 with a maternity centre which has since become insufficient to meet growing local demand. Tamassociati was commissioned to design a new facility, completed in just over a year and opened on December 8, 2016. Iris Ceramica Group’s Fiandre and Iris Ceramica brands supported the new Maternity Centre by donating more than 3,000 square metres of floor and wall coverings made with Active Clean Air & Antibacterial CeramicTM technology. Porcelain tiles made using this technology perform an anti-bacterial eco-active purpose, breaking down pollutants through a process of photocatalysis triggered by exposure to natural or artificial light.
In this fragile landscape, architect Raul Pantaleo of Tamassociati designed a regular volume which sits on the slope of the land, built out of simple elements and materials that fit into the landscape: a corrugated metal roof, local stone foundations and brick walls. The construction “does not shout out” its modernity but marks a turning point while maintaining continuity with the landscape. The big sloping roof serves aesthetic and technical functions, assimilating the construction to other buildings in the valley while technically protecting the pathways outside it from the area’s abundant snowfalls with big overhangs supported by pillars anchored to the façade. They give a whole construction a sense of lightness, underlined by a few strategically placed windows. Square windows of different sizes appear to be positioned freely all over the walls, though in actual fact they respond to the precise requirements of the rooms inside. Nothing happens by chance. The prevailing colours are white and red, the colours of the Emergency logo, making the building easily visible to people arriving in the area. Inside, the colours change on the basis of function, brightening up the interior and helping users find their way around, as many local people, especially women, are illiterate. In addition to technical and functional requirements, the building conveys a sense of lightness and cheerfulness, an invitation for the local population to experience birth as a time of great joy. The maternity centre is dedicated to Valeria Solesin, a young Italian researcher and volunteer for Emergency killed in the terrorist attack on the Bataclan in Paris on November 13, 2015.