SAMWU National Medical Scheme
Tremation & Lascelles Streets, Athlone
Commercial [Office Renovation]
Jakupa, KFD Wilkinson, Arup, AMPS QS
The corner tower, a new addition, creates visual access from the road and train station. The new signage is clear and legible from the street –becoming a landmark for way-finding during the day and a beacon at night, lit up not only for marketing the brand but creating a subtle flood light to improve the visual quality of the pedestrian route to and from the train station. Local security is thus improved, both of SAMWUMED and the adjacent residential dwelling.
By uplifting the quality of the street façade and urban wall, thresholds into buildings become clear and easier to navigate, making it pedestrian friendly and attracting people to the building.
The new double volume entrance of SAMWUMED is accessible and spacious compared to the cramped 19m² x 2,1m high original entrance lobby. The generous 108m² revised entrance includes a wind lobby, main lobby, reception and security desk, waiting area, consultation booths, access to public toilets and an additional feature staircase with direct access to the Clinic on the first floor.
There is an open-space approach throughout the building, allowing natural light and ventilation to filter through and thus creating a comfortable working environment and encouraging workers to collaborate and engage in related tasks as opposed to working in isolation. These interactive working conditions accommodate more employees within a limited space and are cost effective. The work spaces are centrally positioned on each floor, feeding off main circulation routes, with managers offices, dental facilities and storage located along the perimeter, to better facilitate physical and visual access between employees.
All new structure is lightweight, thus differentiates itself from the existing building and does not compromise its structural integrity. The budget is significantly reduced with this use of external steel frame structures as opposed to masonry work and the internal drywall arrangements allow for quick construction.
Passive design was a key design goal. The existing building is north facing and ideally orientated along the solar access zone, optimally capturing direct sunlight to naturally light and warm the building’s interior. Overhangs and louvres were added to prevent harsh sunlight and glare penetrating into the internal spaces. New vertical timber screens on the north façade allow creepers to provide further shade and to soften the new load-bearing exoskeleton and glazing. The existing louvres on the west facade blocked out a large percentage of natural light and thus were replaced with angled vertical screens to reduce the amount of direct sunlight while still allowing indirect sunlight to be bounced off into the rooms. The new panels create a façade that is aesthetically pleasing and gives users views of Table Mountain while still maintaining a degree of privacy.
A large percentage of the facility requires mechanical and electrical devices due to the nature of the services. The replacement of the entire electrical system was undertaken in order to achieve articulation unified within a single system that will be economical in terms of future servicing and maintenance, and that will contribute to the efficiency of the building’s operations.
Through the various design considerations described, SAMWUMED has been renovated as an integrated and cohesive building that facilitates the smooth operation of SAMWUMED core services, better equipping staff to operate within a positive, healthy environment that is both efficient and uplifting.