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Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital


in collaboration with Sheppard Robson International and Gapp Architects


The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund


£48 million




Completion 2016 

Operational 2017


National Award of Merit/ South African Institute of Architects 2018

The first purpose built paediatric hospital in South Africa.

The commission for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital was won, with Sheppard Robson, in international competition.


The Hospital is a national statement of intent and is becoming a defining institution for South Africa, providing not only healing and treatment but education and research – a centre for the practice of paediatric medicine in the continent of Africa.  The first purpose built tertiary/quaternary paediatric hospital in Southern Africa, containing six centres of clinical excellence, it provides the most advanced medicine, free at the point of delivery, for the sickest children in a child and family-focused facility with an African identity.


The client was not experienced in commissioning buildings and we worked closely with the board and the clinicians to establish a project structure and formulate the functional content, brief and operational policies before commencing designs.  This extensive collaboration gave us the opportunity to integrate several examples of international best practice with the best of the clinical culture of South Africa.  JCA led the design team through the briefing and schematic design stages to achieve clinical sign- off.


The building’s simple plan is based on a linear garden through which all public circulation takes place. The design takes advantage of the steep gradient on the site.  Ambulatory services all take place at entrance level, with all the inpatient beds located on the level above, nestling under the roofs and skylights, with terraces and roof gardens.  Families and carers have their own accommodation on the uppermost floor.  Theatres and critical care beds are set out on the level below the entrance, exploiting the sloping site to allow direct ambulance entrance and another set of gardens.

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