CIfA 2019 Award for Architecture: Vredenburg Hospital – Wolff Architects


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How do we create spaces of equity in health facilities when its typology and legislation reveal social inequalities? Where the architectural innovation is subjugated by space norms, workflows and budgetary constraints, how do we design the same quality of space for surgeons and cleaners?

These were the design challenges the architects faced when designing additions to an existing provincial hospital. To do this the architects design what they describe as part of a super form, an autonomous roof that provides a consistent architectural language distributing light across an upper level where all the habitable spaces are located. By challenging the conventional arrangement of ceiling services, services are grouped to allow light to penetrate the roof, letting daylight into all spaces. The roof profile oscillates over the width of wards as a series of bays with roof lights in the center of each bay resulting in the hospital having a high percentage of daylight, minimizing electricity use.

The arrangement of spaces below the roof described as the sub form becomes changeable without compromising the light quality. The theme of light is continued in the administrative wing where an opulence of light in offices is achieved through its north facing fa├žade and controlled with hanging reflectors and sunscreens set within the reveals of openings.

Openings frame the rolling landscape and reconnect spaces of work and recovery to the urban context of Vredenburg.

The new additions make a strong counter gesture to its adjacent predecessor with its deep plan and poorly lit corridors. The success of this project is a testament to the persistence of architectural conviction and contributes to the re-thinking of conventional typologies for health facilities.

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