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South Africa Health Promoting Lifestyle Centres

Aiming to dramatically improve health and reduce costs in their country, the South African Ministry of Health funded an international design competition to build exemplar Health Promoting Lifestyle Centres (HPLCs). Jury members from five continents selected Farrow's team as the winner in response to an open design brief, which called for a new type of health centre. The HPLCs are planned for assessment, adaptation and construction in the rural settings, townships and cities throughout the country’s nine provinces.

The higher purpose of the design was to advance strategic goals of South Africa’s national health insurance system by introducing a new “salutogenic” model that changes how people think about their health. While the concept of pathogenic (disease-causing) is well recognized, the notion of salutogenic (health-causing) presents a groundbreaking shift toward a vision of healthy living beyond conventional models of acute care, prevention and sustainability.

The Farrow team’s winning design was assessed on the basis of forty salutogenic and performance criteria. The Protea, South Africa’s national flower, serves as a metaphor for hope, healing and renewal, its form carefully placed at the heart of the health promoting lifestyle centre (HPLC). Designed to serve as a commu¬nity landmark housing a wide variety of health, education, retail, library and theatre spaces, the Centre will set an international standard for salutogenic design that explores and promotes the full range of the causes of health.

One of the team’s goals was to demonstrate what can be done in a tangible way to move beyond minor improve¬ments in achieving a healthier population. On a global scale, the design will serve as a “leapfrog model” that opens the eyes of decision-makers.

Now that the cost of coping with chronic diseases has become unsustainable, we must design our way to health. All around us we see op¬portunities to promote health rather than cope with illness. In contrast to long-established acute care Centres of Excellence in treating disease, the design is conceived as an innovative “Centre of Influence” for promoting healthy living.

Farrow’s team included Dr. Ray Pentecost, director of healthcare architecture for Clark Nexsen, based in Norfolk, Virginia. Dr. Pentecost is recognized internation¬ally for his leadership in research and design for health facilities. Dr. Innocent Okpanum, Director of Healthcare for Ngonyama Okpanum & Associates, based in Cape Town, South Africa, brings an extensive portfolio of recognized health care design projects in addition to an in-depth understanding of the concerns and aspirations of South Africans.