Urban Landscapes of Colonial/postcolonial Health Care: Towards a Spatial Mapping of the Performance of Hospital Infrastructure in Kinshasa, Mbandaka and Kisangani (DR Congo) from Past to Present (1920–2014)

healthcare infrastructure
architecture & urban planning
Research fields
Arts and Architecture
Social Sciences

While a substantial literature already exists on the intricate relationship between medical science and colonialism, little attention has been given so far to the physical infrastructure of health care. This research will trace if a “shared culture” among European colonial powers existed in the field of hospital design. It will subsequently focus on large scale hospital complexes in three cities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kinshasa, Mbandaka and Kisangani. These complexes that date from colonial times are still functioning today, despite their dilapidated state. We seek to unravel how in these sites African socio-cultural practices of dealing with sickness and death conflicted with an infrastructural accommodation that was based on a typology imported from the mother country. A central argument is that these hospital sites should not be understood as isolated enclaves, but rather as complex sites that, from their very inception, interacted in profound ways with their surrounding urban environment.