Vredenburg Hospital
Wolff Architects - South Africa
Drawings, plans, elevations
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The Vredenburg Hospital (phase 2) is a major addition to an existing provincial hospital. The existing building contained several wards and significantly, the public entrance. The new extension contains the paediatric ward, theatres, support services and the administration offices. The architectural project focused on two primary objectives; the development of a super-form and a sub-form and a naturally lit interior. Super-form and sub-form The architecture of hospitals is often overpowered by technical and functional demands. To make matters worse, changes to the fabric and the services over time, systematically removes any architectural quality from the original building by attrition. To allow for adjustment over time, the additions to the Vredenburg Hospital were designed as two autonomous architectural systems: a super-form and a sub-form. The super-form is the physical framework which sets up primary relationships with the city, the outdoor spatial system, with light and the large scale circulation through the building. The super-form is the most permanent part of the building and in this case is achieved through a normative construction system, The sub-form is the plethora of cellular rooms, all of which could be changed without any substantial effect on the super-form. In this hospital, the super-form takes the form of an autonomous roof. The plan form becomes changeable but the quality and pattern of light are non-negotiable. The roof is shaped as a series of undulating bays, the size of which corresponds with a typical ward width. The roof lights are in the centre of each bay. The super-form establishes a consistent architectural language over the entire plan; the surgeons have the same space as the cleaners. This consistent architectural treatment is fundamental in a society where unequal treatment of people has been entrenched over centuries and architecture been deeply complicit in maintaining such inequality. Naturally lit interiors Conventionally, the demand for deep floor plans and ceiling based MEP services means that the floor plates of a hospital are overshadowed by a layer of services which is impenetrable to light. Light is usually admitted from the facade into the wards which leaves the depth of the plan, where the staff are often located, artificially lit. Often, primary service runs are located in the ceilings above corridors and therefore they are devoid of natural light. In this design, all habitable spaces are located on the upper floor, and therefore the opportunity existed to have the entire floor plate naturally lit. This was achieved through “combing” the MEP services into a pattern that would allow light to enter between service runs. The roof lights were designed to separate light and heat. The roof lights have reflective baffles inside them which allows direct sunlight through in winter, but only reflected light in summer. The outer layer of glass encloses a ventilated void which allows heat to escape. The design of the roof lights allow the hospital to have a 80% daylight autonomy.
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