He will go on to represent TUT architecture at the National Corobrik Awards to be held later in 2020. De Jager was supervised by Prof Jacques Laubscher and Mr Victor Mokaba.
De Jager worked within the general theme set of the year which was “Reimaging the future”. His project was titled: Centre of Healing: the design of a research, treatment and educational centre focused on traditional healing methodology in Pretoria, South Africa.
De Jager argues that for as long as people have walked the earth, we have searched for ways to extend and enrich our lives, to heal the sick, and to make the strong even stronger. Over centuries of trial and error, the art of healing has developed into an official scientific practice that we now know as the field of medicine.
As an institutionalised field, medical practice has standards that need to be adhered to; if not, the practice is seen as untrustworthy. This is a fair argument if one takes into consideration that medicine is there to alter the state of being, whether that be physical or mental. The proposed project does not challenge the method of recognition, but rather the line that separates medicine from that which is seen as “superficial” healing methods.
According to research, over 70% of the African population in South Africa relies on Traditional healing methods as its preferred choice of medicine. Despite this, western medicine is almost universally recognised as the only “official” treatment method. For this reason, research on traditional healing methods has been largely neglected. This provides a unique opportunity for further research and education on the subject matter.
This dissertation will aim to provide a platform for traditional healing to be recognised as an official method of medical practice in South Africa. The proposed development introduces a facility that focuses on three main components: firstly, the research of rituals and medicines used in traditional healing practice; secondly, the administering of traditional treatment to patients; and thirdly, housing the educational process of becoming a traditional healer.
The Centre of Healing will serve as a monument, stating the arrival of the alternative. The design could be seen as a contemporary form of research and treatment centre, making use of the traditional to lead the way for the future.
Located near the Steve Biko Hospital in Pretoria, the project brings together the spiritual, physical and social aspects of healing. The site is set on a steep slope and the architectural intervention is conceptualised in such a way as to create appropriate spaces for the different functions as well as to emphasise a hierarchy and progression of space based on the demands of the different programmes. The project also works in a powerful way with light quality and how natural light is allowed into the building.