Hargeisa Neuropsychiatric Hospital



Hargeisa Neuropsychiatric Hospital

Project Location:

Hargeisa, The Republic of Somaliland

Project Partner:

Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School / The Chester M. Pierce, MD Division of Global Psychiatry

Project Team:

Karen Sargent, AIA, RIBA  AWB Project Manager




Project Description:

In the winter of 2014 Architects Without Borders-Seattle received a request for design help for a new neuropsychiatric hospital to be constructed in Hargeisa, Somaliland, a region of Somalia which broke away during the civil war in the early 1990’s.  Hargeisa is a quickly growing city that exists amidst the rubble of war and with extreme challenges presented by extreme poverty coupled with a lack of infrastructure and severe climate challenges.

The applicant is Hargeisa Neurology, a not-for-profit organization founded in 2010 by Essa Kayd, a native Somalilander neuroscientist who works at Brigam and Womens Hospital in Boston.  The Board of Directors consists of several Harvard Medical School University faculty from both the fields of Neurology and Psychiatry. 

When Essa Kayd returned to Somaliland in 2010, after having been gone for three decades, he found a complete lack of professional care in the field of neurology.  Neurology patients had to travel to Ethiopia for treatment.  Psychiatric services were virtually non-existent to include complete unavailability of medication. The few patients who could be accommodated in the minimal general hospital were chained to their beds. Essa Kayd took it upon himself to change the situation in his homeland. Upon forming Hargeisa Neuology he was able to procure an old hotel in Hargeisa and convert it into a temporary neurology hospital.  The situation is far from ideal, but it is a promise of the possibility of a more appropriate facility that would also include psychiatric care.


Hargeisa Neurology’s mission is to build a modern neuropsychiatic hospital to serve the needs of people in Somaliland and the Horn of Africa.  Funds will be raised for the design and construction of the facility, internally, in Somaliland, as well as internationally. In order to do this effectively they require a designplan to use to raise funds.

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The project was vetted for Architects Without Borders by Karen Sargent, AIA, RIBA who has subsequently become the Project Manager.  The scope of services for Architects Without Borders was developed to be for programming, site and schematic building design and schematic cost estimates.  In the summer of 2014 Karen Sargent met with Essa Kayd in addition Dr. David Henderson and Gabrielle Rosengarten of Global Psychiatry to create the programming document.

The Neuropsychiatric Hospital is to be divided into psychiatry and neurology inpatient wings with separate juvenile facilities. In addition, there is to be an outpatient clinic, examination and diagnostic rooms, office space, storage, operating room and recovery rooms, bathrooms and bathing facilities, kitchens and dining rooms, prayer space, work therapy and classrooms for skill training, exercise areas, meeting rooms, research departments, testing labs, a pharmacy  and numerous other amenities. In addition there needs to be outdoor circulation, parking and security,Good schematic drawings and a well-developed programming document will be an excellent tool for raising the funds required for the next level of design as well as construction.

In November 2014 Karen Sargent visited Hargeisa and was able to participate in the selection of several potential building sites, after determining that the initial site owned by Hargeisa Neurology was not big enough to suit the programmatic needs.  The three sites are located close to each other in an open flat arid area on the southwest border of the city, not far from the airport. One of the sites is too small but the other present viable possibilities.

In the Spring Semester of 2015 a liaison was formed between Architects Without Borders-Seattle and the “Poetics of Structure Class” taught by David Leary, AIA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Hargeisa Neuropsychiatric Hospital became a semester-long design project for the class.  After background research was performed several schemes were developed culminating into one design that best serves the needs of the program and the site type.  Participating throughout the semester on behalf of Global Psychiatry (Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School) were Dr. David Henderson and Gabrielle Rosengarten, PMHNP-BC,BA.





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