University of Cape Town, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine
MLH ARCHITECTS AND PLANNERS: Architect
Unlike the title of this project, the brief was in essence simple: it called for vertical and horizontal links, a new entrance and point of control, and a variety of mixed facilities serving three existing academic buildings. How easily a brief of this sort could have succumbed to becoming a derivative of the somewhat ponderous classical institutional buildings that it was to link. Instead, an apparently small, 3 storey-high jewel has been created. One has to ask whether the new knuckle links the three original buildings, or whether this new linkage is served by the older wings: which is the server and which is the served?
The building is technologically innovative. This is most evident in the design of the sunscreening blades which temper heat and light which track around the curved façade at the various levels, permitting important views across the highway at Devils’ Peak. Both in concept and in detail, issues have been thought through. It is not that there is no room for critical discussion.
This circular glass 'tempietto', with its multi-levelled tail wedged between the existing buildings, is lively from within but most striking as seen from outside. It is a pity that the fast flowing highway rushing past this building does not permit the driver’s eye to dwell on this delight. The university authorities must be complimented on supporting the construction of such an innovative structure on its campus.
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