Coming together for good

Coming together for good

The Brooklyn Chest Hospital does important and valued work, providing a service to tuberculosis (TB) patients in Ysterplaat, Cape Town. So, R&L Architects decided to serve the staff for Mandela Day in 2022 by helping to repaint the social work department. However, when they approached suppliers and partners – including PG Bison – for help, the response was so overwhelming that the project developed into something much bigger.

On 18 July, a team of roughly 30 people, including architects, contractors, social workers and members of the PG Bison Cape Town team, came together to transform the social work department of this 309-bed specialised government hospital. PG Bison sponsored food and beverages for the team, as well as the boards for the boards and post-form worktops for the staff kitchen. Other suppliers came on board to sponsor paint, kitchen and bathroom fittings, tiles and everything else needed to transform the offices, passageway, waiting area, staff kitchen and bathroom.

We chatted to Brian Fincham, Director at R&L Architects, about how the project came about, what it entailed and why it’s something the company was passionate about doing. Plus, we show the before and after photos!

Please tell us a bit about how the project came about.

Our firm has a long history in South Africa, now approaching 60 years in the industry. We are proud of our work and proud of the company culture we have strived so hard to develop. We firmly believe it is our mandate to look beyond our own interests and make a difference in our communities wherever we can.

I personally have quite a meaningful connection with Brooklyn Chest Hospital. I was a part of outreach programmes to the children’s wards there when I was only a teenager. This was run through our church at the time and it really opened my eyes to the difficulties faced, not only by the patients, but also the staff at facilities such as this.

TB is such a devastating disease and the treatment thereof is complicated and costly. Most of the budget allocations to facilities such as this are (correctly) prioritised towards patient facilities and associated equipment. As such, I saw the need to focus on a project that was likely to be left unattended for a long time due to this prioritisation on patient centred elements. Therefore, a staff department upgrade stood out to me as a good fit, and we approached the management team, who were very excited to have us on board.

Why are projects like this important to R&L Architects?

R&L Architects is a company that not only aims to provide an extremely professional service within our industry, but also seeks to give back to those who are less fortunate in whatever way we can. It is often so easy to get caught up in the chaos of the day-to-day requirements of our operations that we feel projects such as this help us remain grounded in what we do. It is humbling to be a part of something that has an impact and makes a real difference in people’s lives.

What were the most exciting or enjoyable parts of the project for you?

Initially, when we approached Brooklyn Chest Hospital, we intended to offer some assistance in the form of painting supplies and some staff to arrive on the day and give their #67minutes for Mandela Day. But as we are familiar with so many suppliers in our industry, we made contact with them through our Interior Designer, Géraldine Sew, to see if they wanted to help. The response was incredible and before we knew it the project had turned into a grand undertaking that included incredibly generous supplier donations in the form of materials and time. We had over 30 people on site at one point and the atmosphere on the day was thrilling. The project grew beyond all of our expectations, and we were so surprised at how quickly it gained momentum.

What were the most challenging aspects?

Due to the dramatic increase in the project’s scope, it became quite an intense logistical undertaking. We ended up involving several R&L staff members and other suppliers in assisting with the administration aspect of the initiative. This, of course, took a lot of time and I’d certainly say this was the trickiest aspect due to the need to fit this in amongst our other work requirements.

Closing thoughts?

On behalf of R&L Architects I would like to extend a very heartfelt ‘Thank You!’ for the incredible support received from everyone who played a part in making our joint Mandela Day initiative a huge success. I am so grateful to have worked with each and every contributor and am already looking forward to the next one! I would also like to thank Bianca Josias, Géraldine Sew, Hanna Duker and all the R&L volunteers who all assisted greatly in making this a success.

“From PG Bison, thank you to R&L Architects for the opportunity to be involved with such a special project,” says Madeleen Greyvenstein, Specifications and Sales at PG Bison. “Our team enjoyed the chance to get stuck in and help out the social workers who take such good care of patients at Brooklyn Chest Hospital. We hope they enjoy their refreshed space.”

Coming together for goodComing together for good