Jabulani Hospital
Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa
Completed 2013
Architect: Hospital Design Group
Client: Department of Public Works

Background: The new 400 bed Jabulani Hospital is adjacent to the Jabulani Mall and the Soweto Theatre. It was originally to have been built in neighbouring Zola, so it’s sometimes also called Zola Hospital. The landscape design that GREENinc originally proposed has been implemented in budget despite the many changes and delays that have affected the project. Jabulani Hospital is the third public hospital landscape that GREENinc has undertaken for the Department of Public Works. The first was Vryburg District Hospital in the Northern Cape and the second, Cecilia Makiwane Hospital Campus in the East London, in the Eastern Cape.

When we were fist involved, we took the opportunity of familiarising ourselves with the concept and principles of therapeutic landscape design. A landscape with therapeutic value is purposely designed in a way that allows and encourages patients and their visitors to interact with nature, in order to aid the process of healing. This choice to interact with the landscape/nature provides patients with a sense of control at a time where their health is in the control of others. In return, this sense of control, as well as the sensory benefits of being in a garden, leads to a reduction in stress and which ultimately leads to good health.

The successful design of a therapeutic landscape rests on four pillars namely: visual & physical accessibility to the landscape; ease of mobility for people with movement difficulties; a variety of functional spaces that meet different needs; and the provision of sensory stimulation. The knowledge and understanding of these principles guided us in all aspects of the design process.

Project description: When GREENinc was approached to design the landscape at Jabulani Hospital, the building footprint, roads- and parking layout had already been finalised. As a result, the ‘landscape’ comprised of mostly of small, oddly proportioned and -shaped spaces between the building, parking and roads. Regardless of this situation, each space was evaluated in terms of its potential as therapeutic garden space and designed accordingly. Due to space constraints, screen walls were proposed to define spaces, create sub-spaces and to create a barrier between the users and the adjacent parking and road functions. These ‘screen’ walls were then reduced to a height of 1.2m due to security concerns. Even though these walls are low, they create comfortable enclosed spaces for their occupants when seated, without compromising their feeling of physical safety. Trees and plant material were then selected and placed to further enhance the feeling of outdoor rooms.

Two courtyard spaces on the southern side of the building serve as relaxation spaces for staff members, and four spaces on the Northern side will be utilised by visitors and out-patients. One of the four courtyard spaces has been designed as a play area for children and the remainder could easily be adapted to accommodate programmes such as play therapy, occupational therapy, nature therapy and horticultural therapy. Landscape furniture including comfortable timber benches, with back- and arm rests, drinking fountains, additional play equipment and a low fence around the play area will be procured during the operational fit out of the hospital.

As the majority of visitors and patients (many with moving difficulties) will arrive on foot or with public transport, we embarked on lengthy negotiations with the project team to omit raised kerb stones and interlocking paving materials. Throughout the project plant material were selected to provide sensory stimulation through a large variety of textures, colours and fragrances. Only indigenous plant species were used, providing food and habitat for local wildlife. Large indigenous trees ‘framing’ the landscape spaces will bring nature to patients on the upper storeys of the building.

Conclusion: Although areas available for landscaping were limited, we hope that the landscape as a whole will provide relief from the stress and emotional trauma associated with a hospital environment.

GreenInc © 2017