The Ear Institute had been operating out of an existing building in Bellville for a number of years, however, many operational challenges came with the adoption of a space not entirely designed to suit the user’s requirements. SNAPP Architect’s brief was to design a new defined entrance which could more easily be identified by the visiting clientele; to add a lift for the disabled and elderly who would need to access the first floor; to upgrade the prominent street facing façade and deal with solar heat gain in the atrium; to add a feature gate house and new boundary walls; and to reconfigure certain interior spaces.
The new entrance design acts as both signage and covered entrance way, guiding visitors from the parking area into the reception. Where once clients were unsure how to enter the building, the new angled entrance portal leaves no one questioning. The concrete signage feature wall is repeated on the façade and linked with a subtle steel lattice which both disguises the rainwater down pipes and modernizes the façade. A curved screen of vertical fins forms a shading device to the double volume windows which surround the spiral staircase and waiting area at the main reception. This screen both aesthetically elevates the building and functions practically to cool the interior, reducing glare from the afternoon sun in the waiting area.
Along with the major face lift, the functionality of the building was addressed by the reconfiguration of admin and service areas and the introduction of skylights to bring natural light deep into the existing structure. Additionally careful consideration was given to the street interface, as the building stands on a prominent intersection, with the site raised well above road level. The distinctive signage integrates effortlessly with the boundary wall and the feature gate house to create a coherent entity.
Location: Bellville, Western Cape
Architects: SNAPP Architects
Project architects: Sonya Neitz, Patrick Mann, Bruce McLean
Photography: Clare Hughes