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Westbury Clinic recently scooped first prize in the Health Completed Buildings at the Berlin World Architecture Festival Awards.

The R23 million state of the art health facility was one of only three South African projects shortlisted for the awards and the only one to walk away with a winner’s prize at the world’s largest architectural award programme.

The clinic was designed for the Johannesburg Department of Health by Ntsika Architects with the aim of creating an environment that promotes health and human dignity, something Nadia Tromp head of Ntsika Architects, says is particularly challenging in marginalised communities which are often plagued by social ills and the lack of public space.

Overcoming the legacies of apartheid

In its award brief Ntsika Architects explains that one of the legacies of apartheid was that the many marginalised communities in and around South African cities had few public amenities. These landscapes were sparsely dotted with public buildings which were often behind a fence and had no response to place or civic presence.

On a purely practical note, the Westbury Clinic was designed to mitigate and reduce the transmission of airborne disease through various innovative systems, including overall layout, patient and staff flow and natural cross-ventilation.

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.

Clay bricks for cleanliness and longevity

With longevity and future maintenance in mind, the building was designed in face brick. “When specifying materials for these specialised, public environments, we need to ensure that the materials are good quality, long-lasting and robust. This is why, for the Westbury Clinic, we specified Corobrik bricks,” Tromp says.

“The company’s Montana brick specified was the perfect material in this harsh environment. It is a robust finish which is low maintenance and reminiscent of the old brick buildings of Johannesburg,” Tromp says.

 

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