Ruben Reddy Architects Celebrate World Architects Day with heritage in mind

South Africa

Having started as a small, ‘one-man’ show run by Ruben Reddy, the practice this year marks 25 years in business.  With a team of 59 people offering a full-range of architectural services and a network of offices in Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Polokwane and Bloemfontein, Ruben Reddy Architects has been responsible for the design of some important and high profile projects and buildings in South African and further afield.  Their expertise and reputation extends to sport architecture, healthcare and public sector buildings, as well as to large-scale transportation hubs, spatial planning and urban design.


Coming hot on the heels of Heritage Month, one notable healthcare project has for all involved, been simultaneously challenging, yet gratifying. Embracing the goals of being ‘innovative, responsible and enriching communities’, the Kwazulu-Natal Children’s Hospital (KZNCH), a heritage project on the Durban beachfront, will in the foreseeable future and through sheer passion and dedication, be transformed from an ‘abandoned space into a healing place’.


Through a collaborative team effort, Ruben Reddy Architects hopes to restore the former Addington Children’s hospital to its past glory - finally again providing the services it was designed to fulfill. 


Opened in 1931, it was the first dedicated children's hospital in Africa.  Commissioned by the then Durban Mayor, Mary Siedle, who wanted to take a child of colour for medical treatment but could not find a facility to help her, Siedle had it written into the title deeds that the site would be dedicated to the care of children of all races, and for years it provided quality care to children from a wide range of social backgrounds.


Sadly, the hospital was closed in 1980, after which, the buildings fell into rapid decline, becoming extremely derelict and with many of the historical artifacts lost due to neglect, theft and vandalism. 


Over 20 years later and the site still sat abandoned, with the heritage buildings on the brink of collapse. Numerous committees were set up and individuals engaged, to try and save the buildings and it was during this period that the precinct was brought to the attention of Dr Arthi Ramkissoon, who saw a wonderful opportunity to create the site as a dedicated care facility. This precipitated the formation of the KZN Children’s Hospital Trust.  


The KZN Children’s Hospital Trust aims to restore the site to its former glory as an exemplary Children’s Hospital, specialising in child and adolescent mental health, physical rehabilitation and associated services. Once fully developed, the KZN Children’s Hospital Precinct will consist of the four heritage buildings, including the original Addington Children’s Hospital, the recently constructed Out-patients Building and the proposed new six-storey Children’s Hospital Building.


To date, the Trust has successfully raised the full funding for the construction of the Out-patient’s building (completed in 2013); the façade restoration of the old Children’s Hospital and Nurse’s Home (completed in 2015); and the new basement parking (completed in 2016).  With a recent surge in donation, the trust now looks to complete the largest phase of the project – the New Hospital Building.


With the incredible setting along the Durban beachfront and views spanning across the sea and harbour, the KZN Children’s Hospital Precinct is closely embedded in the surrounding natural and urban environment. Integrating the historical and contemporary buildings into a cohesive healthcare precinct, the precinct aims to be a beacon for contemporary healthcare in South Africa. The design focuses on providing a fully-fledged, universally accessible facility, with a child-centered approach at its core.

“Reimagining lost historical sites into relevant urban areas within our city is critical to their success,” says Shaan Steyn, lead architect on the project.  “By giving disused buildings new life and relevant meaning in today’s context, we can draw in public interest and debate, as we look to redefine post-apartheid cities into contemporary African cities.”  


Uniquely, the Children’s Hospital Precinct is one of the few historical sites where the original use will remain intrinsically the same.  This provides a great opportunity to fulfill its historical legacy as a place dedicated to the unprejudiced care of all children.  Reinstating this site to its original purpose, highlights the need to uplift and transform the city’s abandoned spaces in order to heal our past and, quite literally in this case, our future.                                                


Prepared for:  Ruben Reddy Architects

Media enquiries:  Joanne Hayes, Tumbleweed Communications

Cell:  +27 836277249              e-mail:




-  More about …Ruben Reddy Architects

Established in 1988, Ruben Reddy Architects is a balance of seasoned professionals and up and coming young talent, youth, diverse architectural experience, skills and cultural backgrounds, which all merge to create innovative and inspirational design. Our team of 59 solution-driven staff, based at six offices around South Africa, has an established reputation in sport architecture, healthcare and public sector buildings, as well as extensive experience in large-scale transportation hubs, spatial planning and urban design.

We provide a full range of architectural services for projects at both a local and international level.  In addition, we have the professional expertise, in-depth knowledge and proven experience to provide the specialist services in sports consulting, sport bid development, and sport event planning, as well as education, healthcare, hospitality and institutional facilities.


More about…The KZN Children’s Hospital / KZN Children’s Hospital Trust 



Project Professional Team

Client Representative: Arthi Ramkissoon, Ian Charteris

Project Manager:        Ian Rout

Architect:                  Ruben Reddy Architects

Heritage Consultant:  Rodney Harber and Associates

Heritage Consultant:  Emmett and Emmett Architects

Mechanical and Fire: BFBA

Structural and Civils: ARUP

Quantity Surveyor:     Mike Royal Quantity Surveyors



June 2017

Published by: Ruben Reddy Media Department

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