We were briefed by the Western Cape Government to replace the existing run-down clinic with a new day care facility providing primary health care services. The site was large enough for us to locate the new building at one end while leaving the original clinic working during the construction of the new facility.
From the start the concept was to create a bright and friendly healing environment.
A courtyard plan was conceived with a transparent main waiting area within the courtyard. The main waiting area is the central focal point around which the circulation areas and all the smaller ancillary rooms are situated. The main waiting area has a large volume that is supported on tree-like columns with ceiling height windows that let in light and allow views out into the courts that have been carefully landscaped to create a relaxed feel.
The width of the circulation areas around the courts varies to create sub-waiting areas. These areas also have large windows and built-in seating for waiting and resting while looking out at the greenery.
The main entrance to the clinic has been positioned in Victoria Road so as to provide the building with a civic sense by using the entrance to make public space. A large canopy is provided for shelter with built-in seating for resting or waiting. Again, tree-like columns hold up the entrance canopy and this idea is continued on either side of the canopy by the planting of real trees along the same line.
In order to separate the passing public from the privacy of the clinic activities the threshold on Victoria Road is defined by an outer wall that wraps around the street edge. The wall is decorated with plaster figures of playing children and is painted in bright colours giving the building a playful and welcoming face to the street. Security, theft and vandalism are an issue and the windows facing Victoria Road have internal bars, security glass, and metal screens on the outside.
On the other two street edges, the building is set back to allow for garden areas between the street and the residential surrounds. On the Gilray Road side the waiting area to the Woman and Child Health Unit pops out of the facade to create interest and make a stronger connection with the perimeter garden. Large windows are provided to this area to connect to this garden and again emphasize the peaceful healing environment.
The building has been well received by the users and the Grassy Park community who campaigned tirelessly for their new facility. At the official opening ceremony, Minister Theuns Botha, Western Cape Health Minister, said that it was not possible to feel sick when you walked into the building.
Amanda Katz Architects with Anesa + Barbosa Architects