More than designing a school for some 1 280 learners we wanted the facility to be a place of community learning, a place where everybody in the community is welcome to learn and to make use of the library and computer resources.
The community of Klapmuts on the outskirts of Stellenbosch is an underprivileged community like so many others in South Africa.
Except that this community has a new primary school to boast. A building that has come to highlight the importance of education, while also serving as a symbol of hope for the future.
We as a team started by spending time in the community. Through this we came to understand the people’s desperate desire for change, for something that would help them through the hard times.
Getting the community involved, we held an art competition where the children were asked to draw their new school. Nearly all the entrants had drawn stairs to a second floor. There was also a lot of use of color.
Our main intention throughout has been that this school becomes a community learning facility. One that is not only open to learners from 08:00 - 13:30, but is teaching the entire community until 21:00 at night.
Looking to the structure of the school, the building was positioned to allow the northern light into the courtyard that serves a playground, optimizing the use of natural light.
Corridors were created around an h-shape layout, forming new courtyards in the process while also leaving room for possible expansion in the future. The large windows in the classrooms again allow for the optimization of natural light.
A sliding gate and high wall separate the public and private realms, ensuring that learners feel safe once within the school boundaries. The ablutions have louvered vents enabling subtle supervision - minimizing potential mischievous behavior.
The building is designed in a way which will catapult the learners into a semi-corporate yet playful environment. It will allow the community to boast of their new library and the increased sense of empowerment it has brought to their lives.