Rahima Moosa Mother & Children's Hospital
26'10 South Architects - South Africa
Drawings, plans, elevations
The Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital is situated in the sprawling suburban landscape of Coronationville, an Apartheid neighbourhood laid out to house Johannesburg's mixed race inhabitants. The extension is for the Empilweni Services and Research Unit (ESRU), a paediatric research unit embedded in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, leading the partnership with the University and the Department of Health at the hospital. The new addition was designed as a ‘clone’ of one of the original three-storey blocks at the back of the hospital, thereby continuing the original pattern of blocks joined by perpendicular links. Originally designed by Gordon Leith, the unassuming brick buildings display fine proportions and details despite being worn. By taking the radical decision to copy an existing building the design effort could be directed towards the structure linking the new block to its older sibling. The resultant H-shaped footprint generates two courtyards– one to welcome patients, the other safe playground and waiting area for children and parents. The emphasis on the public spaces provides a strong commitment to the public life of the hospital, making it welcoming and playful. Instead of spending donor funding that is unlikely to be replenished on maintaining the building, it was decided to tile the façade of the link structure. In collaboration with artist Lorenzo Nassimbeni, a tiling pattern was developed, reflecting the layered suburban landscape in which the building stands.