Drywall installation augments hospital fit-out
Saint-Gobain Gyproc used for interior fit-out of Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital

Based on its expertise in hospital fit-out specifications, specifically in the field of drywall installation, Saint-Gobain Gyproc was contracted to stipulate product for the interior construction of the recently relocated Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital (CBMH).

Originally located in the centre Cape Town’s City Bowl, CBMH is one of the city’s oldest private hospitals. With 248 beds, 11 theatres and 110 medical doctors and specialists in addition to cardio-catherisation laboratories and other facilities, the 28 000m2 hospital prides itself as a super-specialised centre of excellence in cardiac services and transplantation.

The structure, which was developed as a commercial building in 1969, was converted into a hospital building 26 years ago. In 2007 an investigation commenced to assess whether Netcare should renovate or relocate the hospital and after a building audit in 2009, a decision was taken to relocate to the Foreshore in the Roggebaai precinct.

The landlord and hospital group proceeded collaboratively to adapt the shell into a new and improved version of CBMH, and Saint-Gobain Gyproc was requested to specify products to contribute towards fulfilling Netcare’s fit-out brief for the building.

Nursery area at Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital – Saint-Gobain Gyproc drywalling

Janet Thompson, Saint-Gobain’s technical and specifications manager for the Cape region, explains: “The project required a material that could offer time and cost-effectiveness together with comfort and safety features like acoustic control, fire ratings and thermal balance, whilst being durable and sustainable. Brickwork was initially going to be used for the fit-out, however, after in-depth consultation with the client and the various project teams, we concluded that drywall construction was the optimal solution.”

The footprint at each level of the ten-storey building needed to meet world-class hospital design requirements and comply with the Department of Health’s regulations, therefore the fit-out construction was designed to achieve this.

What’s more, the hospital needed to cater for organic growth on individual floors including an additional 82 beds and three planned theatres as well as to enable spaces to evolve in time as new medical specialities are introduced, for instance, chemotherapy and oncology suites which are intended to occupy the top floors.

“To achieve flexibility in layout, we specified innovative plasterboard systems so that rooms can be reconfigured to meet the institution’s planned or retrospective needs as the high-rise building develops over time,” said Thompson.

Saint-Gobain Gyproc 106mm drywall for interior walling at Cape hospitalDrywall installation was used throughout the interior of the hospital and Saint-Gobain Gyproc 106mm drywall together with a combination of plasterboard panels was selected for the fit-out.

Two more floors had to be added unexpectedly during construction, and this was achieved by replacing brickwork on certain levels with dry-walling. Because drywalls are ten times lighter, this contributed towards a weight saving on the upper floors which had the upside of enabling the earthquake design loads to stay within their required parameters, leading to a structural cost saving of 17,5%.

“From an on-the-job construction perspective, using plasterboard meant the fit-out could be completed ahead of schedule and thanks to the convenience of dry-works, with minimum mess and noise. Because of the ever-changing nature of the project, being able to provide a quick, clean and relatively quiet fit-out added true value,” said Thompson.

In any built environment, comfort features like acoustic and thermal properties are important, and these considerations are particularly relevant in a hospital environment where patient comfort is essential. Thompson’s team specified drywall systems that were able to provide a decibel rating upwards of 50dB, which is higher than the sound transmission performance of a 220mm brick wall.

Certain drywall panels together with insulation were also specified to ensure a one-to-two fire rating and help manage thermal properties, which added the benefit of reducing electricity usage and increasing sustainability standards.

“The hospital certainly reflects the spirit of its namesake, Dr Christiaan Barnard, as his work was at the cutting edge of medicine at the time. This state-of-the-art hospital represents the most innovative and advanced medical technology and we’re proud to say that the drywalling technology specified has added value to this outstanding South African facility by creating a new build that offers superior practical, safety and comfort features while being kind to the environment,” said Thompson.

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