Ethekwini Municipality identified the need for a high performance sports medicine centre in the Moses Mabhida Stadium. Koop Design represented the winning tender to operate the venue. Prime Human Performance is a technically resolved medical centre with hypoxic chambers for altitude training, facilities for radiologists, blood labs and sports testing laboratories.
A 1000 m2 retail space with a 7.5m high soffit on the retail level of the Moses Mabhida Stadium is the site for Prime Human Performance. Very low levels of natural light, shallow services and the rigid structural system of the stadium were the challenges facing the design of a highly technical and serviced medical facility. The brief was to provide extensive doctors suits combined with various sports training facilities – including a hypoxic chamber (oxygen starvation for altitude training). Laboratories, academic training spaces, meeting rooms, changing and recovery spaces and administrative space were also required.
The spatial response was to develop the perimeter of the space with two levels of offices and treatment rooms, keeping the main sports training areas to the middle. This defines the space like that of a stadium with an active central area, overlooked from the perimeter. This training space meets the only elevation that relates to the outside, allowing passers-by to view the action within. Time and budget restraints, the need to establish a common visual identity for independent consultants and the understanding that this dynamic environment would benefit from a simple backdrop of interior architecture informed a limited palette of materials and a simple yet expressive building system. Therefore the identity of the environment is gained though the materials used and the system of assembly employed. A steel structure supports the concrete slab of the first floor. Vshaped columns support the outer edge of a slab that rests on the dividing walls of the consulting rooms. The columns, combined with the subtle offsets of the orthogonal lines of the plan add to the dynamic nature of the space. As the glazed shop-front does not have a wind loading or waterproofing function (it is internal), a timber system was especially developed for this project. Using compound laminated, interlocking elements the shop-front was prefabricated into 11 basic sections that were delivered to site, cut to size and assembled by a decking crew. It is this timber shop-front and the expressive steel structure that provide the basic identity of the space. The graphic effect of colour and use of large numbers for consulting spaces assist in the navigation of the complex interior. Fresh, acidic colours were selected to reflect the activity and vitality of the amenity. The language of the environment was interpreted into the furniture of the project. Office furniture was developed and adapted for specialist items. The angularity and subtle facets of the main space are more expressed in the reception desk. The use of a single font in all signage adds to the consistency of the resolution of the environment. All elements defining the environment are composed in the whole, providing structure and identity to a dynamic and potentially chaotic space. Sustainability in the project is considered through the use of FSC certified Ash used for the shop front, and in conjunction with birch ply keeps the tonality of the timber used consistent. A natural solid wax finish neutralizes differences in the material and limits VOC of sealants. Water heating (heat pumps) and air conditioning systems are placed so that heat is recovered from each other. The design of the parent structure, the Stadium, prohibits the use of natural ventilation, daylight or the need for passive systems.