Farrow Partnership team selected for South African Ministry of Health “Centre of Influence” Projects

Aiming to dramatically improve health and reduce costs, the South African Ministry of Health has funded an international design competition to build exemplary Health-Promoting Lifestyle Centres (HPLCs). Jury members from five continents have selected Farrow Partnership’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 HPLCs are intended 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.

“We have 8,000 known causes of disease, and maybe only 80 known causes of health,” observes Dr. Alan Dilani, director of the International Academy for Design and Health, which organized the competition in partnership with the South African Ministry of Health.

The Farrow team’s winning design was assessed on the basis of 40 salutogenic and performance criteria. “In this scheme, the Protea – the national flower for South Africa, serves as a metaphor for hope, healing, and renewal, its form carefully placed at the heart of the health-promoting lifestyle centre (HPLC),” said the judges. “Designed to serve as a community landmark housing a wide variety of health, education, retail, library and theatre spaces, [it] will set an international standard for salutogenic design that explores and promotes the full range of the causes of health.”

“One of our goals was to demonstrate what can be done in a tangible way to move beyond minor improvements in achieving a healthier population,” said Farrow Partnership senior partner Tye Farrow. “On a global scale, our 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 opportunities 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 Partnership’s team includes Dr. Ray Pentecost, director of health-care architecture for Clark Nexsen, based in Norfolk, Virginia. Dr. Pentecost is recognized internationally for his leadership in research and design for health facilities. Dr. Innocent Okpanum, director of health care 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.

The competition is the first of its kind in Africa and offers the winners an opportunity to build these facilities with funding provided by the South Africa Ministry of Health.