District Six Community Health Centre: Design and Construction

District Six Community Health Centre: Design and Construction

District Six Community Health Care Centre looking south
View of District Six Community Health Care Centre looking west, down Caledon Street


Provincial Government Western Cape: Department of Health

Start Year


End Year



± 2.86 ha


Cape Town

The Project Challenge

The new Community Health Centre is the largest public clinic to be built within the city, with the capacity to function for extended hours. The multi- storey health care facility of approximately 4400m² is to cater for approximately 740 people on a daily basis and to serve the communities of Salt River, Woodstock, Vredehoek, Central City of Cape Town and that of the District Six community. 
Important project considerations include:
  • The public, institutional and social memory of the site;
  • The role of the site and remaining heritage fabric which acknowledges the historic role as a public health care institution and public landmark within District Six;
  • The developable area is restricted, due to the existing built-up nature of the urban block, and due to setbacks required to existing heritage buildings and features.  
  • The natural typography of the site having steep slopes and the elevation of the site providing views over the CBD towards Signal Hill and southward up to Table Mountain;
  • The highly specific nature of the user-client brief as based on their organisational and programmatic criteria of clinics, which have been established over the last five years.


The Community Health Centre is accessed from Caledon Street and is configured as a multi-storey facility comprising:
  • To the Ground Floor: Infectious Disease, Radiology and Emergency Treatment Units, as well as Reception/Records and Pharmacy around a shared Main Waiting Area.
  • To the First Floor: the Chronic Disease Unit and Woman and Child Health Unit. 
  • To the Second Floor: the Rehabilitation Unit, Oral Health Unit and Staff Facilities. 

Design Approach

The design has formally structured the building to be clearly organised around a central foyer and courtyard, which is orientated towards one of the last remaining heritage buildings of the demolished District Six, namely ‘Buckingham Lodge’, also known as the Old Nurses’ Home. The facility’s formal organisation is such that the courtyard is terraced up towards and provides a ‘softer’ interface towards the existing Old Nurses’ Home. Here large established trees and a new planted courtyard and roof garden provide the visual focus point around which the facility is organised. The high volume foyer allows for light and ventilation to this primary public space, off which the various departments are accessed and around which the public circulate and can orientate themselves.
Daylight, nature and good way finding are considered important elements that contribute to the well-being and comfort of the public and staff. Natural materials, such as timber, and warm colours are used to define the public spaces, together with natural light. On different levels, the waiting and watching areas associated to circulation are clustered around the central foyer and courtyard which provide different scaled spaces and options for people to pause, watch and tend to children.
The facades of the facility have been designed with robust materials and in response to the context, and address an appropriate urban scale, site security and elements to manage the tough sun and wind conditions of the city. Importance is placed in the making of the ground plane by providing landscaped sidewalks, shade and places to sit and pause, with Caledon and Mount Streets prioritised as the main pedestrian routes.