Sustainable Design Awards

5 August 2021
Department of Transport and Public Works

Two Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) health projects received 2019/2020 AfriSam-South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) Sustainable Design Awards at an online ceremony in June 2021. These awards represent independent recognition of excellence in architectural or social design, and innovative thinking in the field of sustainability.

The awards went to the Hillside Clinic in Beaufort West, and to additions to the Vredenburg Hospital. Hillside Clinic was designed with a reduced environmental footprint, both during construction and operation. The building features rammed earth walls of soil sourced from the nearby Beaufort West dam, rock stores to temper hot summer air and cold winter air, and landscaping that draws on plants from the area traditionally used for medical remedies.

The award citation says, “the architecture relates to the urban-domestic context creating an inviting scaled building that welcomes the community whilst being a beacon of hope”. It recognises the innovative alternative approach to the building’s airflow management using the rock-store system. DTPW’s placemaking performance and leadership are praised in the following way: “From consulting with the community to employing local labour, the building acts as a centre for dignity and change on socio-economic levels… The Department… is a champion due to [its] willingness to experiment with the use of rammed earth as a material”.

The project to add a new surgical, paediatric and services complex to the Vredenburg Hospital focused on two primary objectives:

  • a naturally lit interior, and the development of a super-form and a sub-form. Super-form refers to a large-scale physical framework that sets up a building’s relationship with a city,
  • the outdoor spatial system, and large-scale circulation through the building. The sub-form in this case is many cellular rooms which can be changed without a substantial effect on the super-form.

The ultimate aim was to create a peaceful and harmonious environment for people to heal in and for hospital staff to work in.

In respect of innovation, the citation commends the approach to relocating services from the ceiling void, use of simple technology in light wells, and the design’s commitment to the well-being of the hospital staff. In respect of leadership, the citation commends the rethinking of design and technology in the project.