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Project Type

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 Start Date


Project Lead

Karen Sargent, AIA, RIBA

# of AWB Volunteers



Hargeisa, Somaliland, a region of Somalia which broke away during the civil war in the 1990s, is a quickly growing city that exists amidst the rubble of war with extreme challenges presented by poverty, a lack of infrastructure, and severe climate challenges.

As a result, there is a complete lack of professional care in the field of neurology.  Neurology patients were forced to travel to Ethiopia for treatment. Psychiatric services were virtually non-existent with the unavailability of medication. The few patients who could be accommodated in the minimal general hospital were chained to their beds.

When Essa Kayd, a native Somalilander neuroscientist who works at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, returned to Somaliland in 2010 after being gone for three decades, he found this state of neuropathic care. In response he founded Hargeisa Neurology, a not-for-profit.

Upon forming Hargeisa Neuology, Dr. Kayd 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 neuropsychiatric hospital to serve the needs of people in Somaliland and the Horn of Africa. In order to do fundraise for this mission, they require a design plan to use in fundraising.


The scope of services for AWB volunteers is to create a plan for programming, site and schematic building design, and schematic cost estimates. 

The Neuropsychiatric Hospital will be divided into psychiatry and neurology inpatient wings with separate juvenile facilities. There will 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 will need to be outdoor circulation, parking, and security.

In November 2014, Project Lead Karen Sargent visited Hargeisa and was able to participate in the selection of several potential building sites. In the spring 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.


This is an active project and we will provide updates as the project continues to take form.  

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