Local Architecture: Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Masiphumelele Research Site


WORDS Diane de Beer IMAGES Anton Scholtz

This public building shows the ability of South African architects, Max Melvill and Ashleigh Killa of theMAAK, to meet a brief for a specialised environment.

THE BRIEF: A new home was required for the industry-leading medical work that the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation (DTHF) conducts in Masiphumelele in Cape Town. The goal was to create a specialised facility for TB research and testing, and to represent this contribution to society through the architecture itself.

THE RESULT: In plan, the building is sharply angled back so as to publicly welcome visitors to the new social forecourt that the centre creates. This same move helps the structure acknowledge and communicate with the existing facilities on the site. On arrival, the new building shows its proudest face: from this vantage point, the north-facing aluminium façade fins optically combine to form a confident new image for DTHF.

Moving across the site and changing the angle of view, the dynamic façade thins to subtly reveal the inner workings of the facility. This strong formal presence marks an impressive move forward for the foundation and its growing footprint in South Africa’s developing communities. The hope is that this project can lead the way to implementing more world-class public infrastructure in local areas that need them most.

To see more of theMAAK’s project, visit themaak.co.za.