Mediclinic Stellenbosch: Selecting a suitable site
Posted on 7 February 2019
Location is everything
It is said that for business, location is everything – and in the case of Mediclinic Stellenbosch – it is.
Mediclinic is preparing to open the newly relocated Mediclinic Stellenbosch facility later this year. The new hospital is conveniently located on the R44 Strand road in Stellenbosch and will be fully equipped to support the growing demands of the Winelands region.
“Our decision to use this particular site was made after careful consideration of 11 different sites. Access, terrain, council restrictions and potential future developments were all factors that influenced the final decision,” says Kobus Jonck, General Manager: Infrastructure Mediclinic Southern Africa. The search for the most appropriate site took about 4 years. Ultimately, the R44 land parcel allowed for the optimum design and orientation for both the Mediclinic Stellenbosch facility as well as the co-located Mediclinic Stellenbosch Day Clinic.
“Mediclinic Stellenbosch’s original site did not allow for the much-needed expansion without major disruption to patients and personnel, thus the size and ability to develop on the new property was of vital importance in making the final decision,” explains Jonck. Certain sites earmarked for development were rejected because of size as well as the availability to procure or rezone the land that was being considered. Of the 11 sites, which were spread across Stellenbosch and surrounds, a number progressed to preliminary drawings to determine the viability of the property.
Stellenbosch in particular, with its rich history and historical landmarks, made the selection of an appropriate and acceptable parcel of land a challenging decision. Where land was available, surrounding buildings or access were problematic. Where zoning was appropriate, the land was not available to procure and of course, accessibility from both Somerset West and Stellenbosch was essential.
How landscape defined the design
One of the main challenges involved in the design of the new Mediclinic Stellenbosch on the R44 site was the natural slope of the land, from the mountain side towards the roadway. Ultimately the slope of 6m from east to west allowed for an open front to the co-located day clinic, optimising the available natural light. The gradient also meant that the required excavations for the basement were reduced.
Stellenbosch is a town with a very proud heritage, so the closely located Brandwacht house (which is of historical importance to many locals), influenced build lines and what was possible with landscaping to ensure that the house remains visible from the road. Even the provincial road itself, which encourages easy recognition of the building, held restrictions in terms of permissible building distance from the road.
A big consideration for the structure was the clay soil and proximity to flood lines – with a 50-year and 100-year flood line defining where the building could be situated.
Set back against these river and heritage lines, soft vegetation was chosen on either side of the building, while the typical building style around Stellenbosch was echoed in the white exterior walls.
Jonck adds, “While so many sites were ruled, the R44 site has proven to hold a few bonuses. The ready availability of groundwater will prove valuable in the sustainable nature of the building and amongst other can be used for irrigation and possible toilet flushing.”
Being perfectly situated on the north-south axis, the public spaces (entrances at the south end of the building) receive maximum light with limited associated heat gain – reducing cooling requirements. It also allowed for shorter elevations for both east and west (which in the Southern Hemisphere is normally associated with high heat gains), meaning only these sides required screening to reduce the heat gains, which also add to the visual aspects of the building when driving along the R44.
Screens erected on the external west facade replicate the trees in the nearby river, allowing the building to blend in as part of the landscape. The interior design concept perpetuates this theme, bringing the outside in. A sense of Mother Nature flowing through the building and promoting healing.
“A definite boost to patient recovery, the landscapes of the Hottentots Holland mountain range behind the hospital have allowed for the inclusion of wide windows with broad views in hospital rooms, creating a peaceful and quiet atmosphere,” concludes Jonck.