Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Testing Clinic / theMAAK

  • Architect: theMAAK
  • Location:Masiphumelele, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Date:2019
  • Area:500m2
  • Client:Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation


Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Testing Clinic – Description by theMAAK.

Social architects, theMAAK, have completed a unique architectural build in the low-income area of Masiphumelele, Cape Town, South Africa. This bold new public building was built in partnership with the esteemed Desmond Tutu HIV foundation (DTHF) and will act as the new home for the industry- leading medical work that the organisation conducts in the area.

Balancing ‘striking and welcoming’, ‘bold and subtle’, the saw-toothed building appropriately addresses both the ambition and prestige of the internationally acclaimed research of DTHF as well as the sensitive human nature of their work.

© theMAAK

It is on arrival that the new building shows its proudest face. From this angle, the north-facing aluminium façade fins optically compound to form a confident new image for DTHF. Seeing this strong formal presence as you approach the scheme, clearly marks a positive and impressive move forward for the Foundation and their growing footprint in developing communities around South Africa. Moving across the site, and changing one’s angle of view, the dynamic façade thins to subtly reveal the inner workings of the facility.

The simple geometries and bold form of the building are communicated through the expression of the building’s saw-tooth roof on both the North and South facades – the south acting as the understated counterpart to the more celebratory North. The roof’s geometry lets soft south daylight into each of the first-floor offices, whilst the light-sensitive lab spaces on the ground floor are sufficiently shaded by the overhanging ‘social landing’ above. This landing, veiled behind the North-facing façade fins, is supported by nine equally spaced off-shutter concrete columns.

© Anton Scholtz

Beyond the neat finishes and subtle construction details, what makes the scheme most rewarding is the attitude that the architectural team and Client had towards positively contributing to the public nature of the area through the build. In plan, the building is sharply angled back so as to publicly address and welcome visitors to the new social forecourt that the building creates. This same move helps the building acknowledge and communicate with the existing facilities on the same site.

Bridging the programmatic needs of the Client with the social needs of the area, the architectural duo of theMAAK, hope that this project can lead the way to a more progressive approach of implementing more world-class public infrastructure in the South African areas that need them the most.

© theMAAK. Elevations



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