A green clinic in the heart of a coal mine

The careful articulation of open air, segregated areas and patios that include water features and vegetation – all under the protection of a wide roof – has resulted in a sustainable clinical space where the air is purer and fresher than the air outside, providing a healthy microclimate for those visiting a clinic, situated next to an open-air coal mine.

Tete province in Mozambique is believed to be home to the largest coal reserve of the world. The mining company that owns and runs the Moatize mine is responsible for the extraction of around 11 million tones of coal every year. It has imposed a strict set of guidelines and principles for the sustainable development action of its projects and operations, articulated with social, economic and environmental responsibility. As part of social responsibility the

company wanted to provide a medical clinic for its staff and their families. In particular the clinic was commissioned to ensure good lung health and hearing, which are two of the health issues most often associated with working on open-air mines. The clinic also needed to have an emergency area to respond to accidents. This area needed to have the ability to stabilise the patient before evacuation to a main hospital. An area for the maintenance of the protection masks was also included as part of the clinic development. Areas within the clinic needed to include administration, pulmonology, otorhinolaryngology, general practice, emergencies, occupational hygiene, mask maintenance, and technical services. The clinic is designed to cater for 3,000 people, at the final size of the mine, so there was no requirement to cater for future expansion. As a means of

passive climate control the clinic has been partially dug into the embankment. A gabion wall,


The clinic has been partially dug into the embankment to provide a means of passive climate control.

made of local stone closes all the covered outer spaces. Within this space, six buildings create four patios and the internal cross-shaped circulation.

Ernesto González Nagel Ernesto González Nagel is an

architect who graduated from the University of Rosario in Argentina.

He also attended a doctorate at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Spain. He has 25 years

experience, having developed

20 health centre projects, three hospitals and a research centre.

João Athayde e Melo João Athayde e Melo is an

architect who graduated from the University of Porto, Portugal. He worked with Nagel on the

prize-winning Clinic at the Moatize mine project which led to the

formation of González & Athayde, Arquitetura in 2014.

The layout of the buildings is designed

to resist the undesired excessive movement of hot air. The careful articulation of corridors and patios, under the shadow of water and vegetation, and where the air is more pure and fresh is used to make the clinic’s space an integral instrument of preservation of health and wellbeing. The clinic was developed alongside

two other projects – a dormitory for personnel who work in shifts (integrated in the health management programme) and a technical archive for the existing main office. The design of the clinic needed to

overcome a variety of environmental issues. The open-air coal mine is located on the banks of the Zambezi River in Moatize, Tete Province, northern Mozambique, 13 km from Tete which is the capital city of the province. The clinic is located at the base of the coal mine, next to a variety of pre- existing management offices, and close to workshops and a food hall for employees. Existing buildings on the site had

a bad orientation in relation to the sun path and provided insufficient natural


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