Speaking at the launch on 31st July, Mandela, who turned 91 on July 18, said the hospital was badly needed on a continent where millions do not live to see their fifth birthday: "This is not a luxury but a vital necessity that can no longer be delayed.”
The winning design for the state-of-the art paediatric tertiary facility was developed together with local architect Gapp and Ruben Reddy as part of an international design competition. It will be located on the Wits education campus in Parktown, Johannesburg - a central position allowing it to service the needs of the region’s populations.
The hospital will be a 200-bed, 8 theatre facility, with state-of-the-art diagnostics, with future plans for expansion to 300 beds. It will operate in partnership with the Wits medical school as a primary base and will engage all medical training facilities across the region.
The design centres around a secret garden – a visual and spiritual heart - around which all activity is based. The shallow floor plans enable much of the building to be naturally lit and ventilated with daylight concentrating into all areas – a highly sustainable design employing passive energy principles and exploiting the opportunity to use local labour and materials.
Rod McAllister, partner and design director for Sheppard Robson, who was received by Nelson Mandela himself at the launch of the hospital design in Johannesburg, said: “Sheppard Robson is delighted to have won this competition for what will be a very important project for South Africa. It was an honour to meet Nelson Mandela, knowing that we are playing a part in achieving his vision for Southern Africa.”
Construction of the rands1 billion (about $800 million) hospital will begin in late 2010 and is expected to be completed in 18 months.