Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital

Sheppard Robson with John Cooper Architecture, Johannesburg, 2016


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View of hospital from Constitution Hill 

Tristan McLaren     Download Original

  • View of hospital from Constitution Hill    
  • Aerial view looking south-east    
  • End of hospital wing with family play area    
  • Landscape garden for main entrance    
  • Landscaped courtyard    
  • Solar shading wall    
  • Typical room in imaging suite    
  • Main reception interior    
  • A primary, memory-based wayfinding language was created using colours    
  • Location map    
  • Lower ground floor, ground floor and first floor plans    
  • Section AA    
  • Section BB    
  • Section CC    
  • Concept section diagram by John Cooper Architects    
  • Early concept sketch of hospital wings by Sheppard Robson    
  • Solar shading wall detail section    

Sheppard Robson with John Cooper Architecture have led the design of this modern state-of-the-art paediatric facility in Johannesburg.

Sheppard Robson with John Cooper Architecture have led the design of this modern state-of-the-art paediatric facility in Johannesburg.

The facility, a short walk from the general hospital and associated Wits Medical School, operates as a referral hospital from across southern Africa to compensate for a lack of tertiary and quaternary paediatric care elsewhere. It offers a sophisticated suite of specialist units catering for infants and children aged up to 15 in 200 beds and 48 day-patient stations, with the capacity for extension.

The overall form extends the low-slung formal language of warm brick and raw concrete of the adjacent campus, but introduces colour through sunscreens and glazed end-walls. These offer public glimpses into lounges and stairwells that are amplified by upturned roofs.

The courtyard gardens are carefully defined in dialogue with adjacent clinical functions through the selection and placement of types of plants, surfaces and water alongside structures for play and relaxation.

By breaking down the mass of the building into six elements, the design has a domestic, human scale that is reassuring and familiar to children. 

The composition increased the length of the perimeter of the building and created shallow floorplates. This meant more natural light could flood into the building, placing many treatment spaces next to windows which made the most of the views out over the surrounding landscape as well as into the internal courtyards created in between the hospitals wings. 

The building’s expression of colour, inside and out, is an important characteristic of the design. From the outside, the most powerful expression of colour is on the solar shading walls – formed from brightly coloured horizontal rails – which change on each of the hospital’s wings to give them a distinct identity. These correlate to the colours used internally to reinforce the wayfinding strategy.


  • Completed: Dec 2016
  • Floor area: 29,900m2
  • Sector: Healthcare
  • Total cost: £63.5M
  • Procurement: International design competition
  • Address: 6 Jubilee Rd, Parktown, Johannesburg, 2193, South Africa

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