A multi-million rand project will see Bellville’s old Jan S Marais Hospital redeveloped into a student hub and health faculty.
The University of the Western Cape will spend about R250 million on a Community and Health Sciences Faculty, with future plans for student accommodation.
The project forms part of the university’s plan to blend into its urban surroundings in the Bellville CBD.
In 2012, UWC bought the old Bellville Holiday Inn, the Jan S Marais Hospital and the Salus building in Blanckenberg Street with plans to merge all three into a single building.
The 14 500 square metre building will house the school of nursing and the physiotherapy, occupational therapy and natural medicine departments.
The project, which was awarded to GAPP Architects and Urban Designers, is due to be finished by the end of 2017 and should be ready for the start of the 2018 academic year.
Architect Andrew Flint said the building would have a modern and clean environment, similar to a hospital. They had drawn inspiration for the design and layout from the way medical professions interact with one another. There would also be a mix of open-plan and cell offices.
Mr Flint was speaking at the annual general meeting of the Greater Tygerberg Partnership on Thursday November 24. He had been invited to share the plans for the building.
Mr Flint said GAPP had been involved in several recent projects in and around Bellville.
Getting the latest off the ground had been challenging because they had had to gut the insides of the buildings, leaving only the “carcass”.
The new building, he said, would be kitted out with the latest technology emphasising digital learning. The new faculty would boast a resource centre, library, food court, faculty practice consulting rooms and lecture halls seating 80 students.
UWC spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo said the university had been looking at ways to “expand its footprint” beyond the main campus on Robert Sobukwe Road and it had made sense to relocate health faculty departments to the CBD “which brings them in closer contact with communities that they serve through their clinical and outreach work”.
Mr Flint said: “This is a brave and bold step by the university, it now gives UWC a chance to be part of the city and vice versa.”