Westbury Clinic
Ntsika Architects - South Africa
Drawings, plans, elevations
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One of the legacies of apartheid is the many marginalized communities in and around our cities. These communities are often poorly serviced and have very few public amenities. The public facilities which one can find are often behind a fence, very clearly enforcing exclusion, rather than inclusion. In our design of the Westbury Clinic, we consciously set about to change the way the City of Joburg thinks about public facilities and put in place the mechanisms for more responsible design. The new facility, which opened in December 2016, is designed to mitigate and reduce the transmission of airborne disease through various passive systems, including overall layout with courtyard and external waiting areas, 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. The clinic offers comprehensive healthcare services, including tuberculosis treatment, chronic care, antenatal and post-natal care, 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 in front of the building onto the street. Users of the clinic would typically arrive between 5am-6am and wait for hours until the facility opens. Robust street furniture is placed to encourage human interaction and engagement with the local community. The double-storey street façade is designed with high-level openings, creating a backdrop for life unfolding, while creating a safe, surveilled space. Landscaping softens the edge, providing shade. The building was designed in English bond face brick which 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 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 its 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. The building creates an environment that heals. One that promotes health and human dignity through simple design solutions. It creates a civic presence in an environment that is otherwise indistinct.
3 word address features The facility promotes health and aims to create spaces of dignity. Designed to have a civic presence on the street, the facility is a form of urban acupuncture, becoming the catalyst for change. The environment is hostile, Westbury having the highest steel theft rate in the country and faced with a myriad of social challenges. The building needs to be robust while creating the sense of safety, inclusion and pride within the community.
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