A small brick hospital that harvests rainwater in a waterlogged yet saline rural area in south-western Bangladesh has won the RIBA international price 2021 for the best new building in the world. The building’s architecture also minimizes the use of air-conditioning and provides patients with a clear view from their beds.
Rising sea levels has led to increased salination of the groundwater, meaning the ground water in areas like Satkhira where the hospital is located is too saline to use for most purposes. As such, despite the abundance of water, locals collect rainwater during the rainy season and store it for household purposes. The hospital was thus designed to maximize the rainwater harvested with collected water reaching the central canal which then feeds into storage tanks.
Such architectural choices help improve the resilience of the hospital and the local area to water stresses. As the effects of climate change worsen, new buildings and construction have an opportunity to minimize costs and improve human health by being cognizant of the various environmental stressors that are likely to intensify in the future and by seeking energy-saving solutions to address them.