As seen on Apsaidal. One of the legacies of apartheid is the many marginalized communities in and around our cities. These communities often have very few public amenities. These landscapes are sparsely dotted with public buildings, which are often behind a fence and has no response to place or civic presence.
Westbury Clinic is located in the community of Westbury, along the vibrant Empire – Perth Development Corridor.
The new facility by Ntsika Architects, which opened in December 2016, is designed to mitigate and reduce the transmission of airborne disease through various innovative systems, including overall layout, patient and staff flow and natural cross-ventilation. The space planning of the clinic was steered by the need to provide design solutions to mitigate health risks within the facility and eliminate stigmas attached to the ill – which have become stereotypically synonymous with public healthcare facilities. The clinic offers comprehensive healthcare services, including tuberculosis treatment, chronic care, antenatal and post-natal care, child healthcare services, HIV care and cancer and prostate screening.
In response to the limitations of the land, the clinic occupies the smallest possible area and opens up outdoor areas which serve as external waiting rooms. The building is set back from the street edge, creating a generous public space. Robust street furniture is placed to encourage human interaction and engagement with the local community. The double-storey street façade is designed with minimal high-level openings, creating a backdrop for life unfolding, while creating a safe, surveilled space. Landscaping softens the edge, providing shade. With longevity and future maintenance in mind, the building was designed in face brick. The English bond face brick is reminiscent of the traditional face brick buildings in Joburg CBD and Newtown areas. Its aesthetics speaks to its surrounds, while simultaneously differentiating itself through its height and ‘monolithic’ aesthetic. As a result, it provides the relatable landmark.
The design strategy of incorporating a courtyard into the clinic has come through lessons learned in designing for the prevention of the spread of communicable diseases. Well-planned exterior environments provide a greater sense of privacy and the circulation of cool air through the consultation rooms. The courtyard becomes the green lung of the facility. Planted trees creating shaded seating areas encourages patients to wait outside, where the chance of transmission of airborne disease is greatly reduced.
The section of the building is designed to allow maximum natural light deep into the floor plate. The roof light is designed to create a natural suction on the roof and improve natural ventilation. Each consultation room has glazing from corner to corner on it’s external wall, allowing the room to be filled with natural light. Openable window sections at low levels allows for maximum natural ventilation.
The spatial layout of the clinic is one that clearly separates functions – preventing cross infection. A central reception area is filled with light in a double-volumed space. This waiting room serves the ground floor consultation rooms. A courtyard just off this space, provides a welcome relief as a second waiting area on ground floor. The consultation wings are split over two levels. It is connected by a ramp which wraps the corner of the building. A mezzanine area is provided as a waiting area for the first floor consulting rooms. This opens onto a roof terrace which is used as a secondary waiting area. The emergency wing can operate independently from the consulting room wings. An isolation room is located away from the general public. The staff wing is situated along the street façade and creates passive surveillance of the street scape.
Westbury Clinic also demonstrates that social, economic and environmental value can be generated for local communities through a holistic approach to development. To build capacity within the community, the project used local labour and provided opportunities for training in safe, high-quality construction skills. It is a building that is of the people and for the people.
The building creates an environment that heals. One that promotes health, human dignity and justice through simple design solutions. It creates a civic presence in an environment that is otherwise indistinct.
LOCATION: Westbury, Johannesburg, South Africa
ARCHITECTS: Ntsika Architects