Conceptually, this proposal aims to create an inclusive space for children, a building that is at once building and campus , enclosure and openness. Consequently, we have devised an elliptical ring that seeks to remove any physical boundaries on the children, and provide a continuous space that allows for unhindered learning and play. It echoes the dynamics of children running around tirelessly in loops while ensuring a haven where they are allowed to wander freely within a safe environment.
The functions are housed in volumes gradually rising with the natural topography of the terrain to avoid excessive excavation and are wrapped around a central courtyard which preserves the existing Marula tree. The various spaces are connected by a gently sloping covered exterior walkway flanking the playground.
Instead of walls, classes are divided by the wooden storage elements which promote a flexibility in terms of compartmentalizing or openness to neighboring spaces. It allows configurations ranging from intimate classrooms to more communal spaces inducing both children and teachers to move freely from one to the other. This free plan design encourages interdependence and collaboration.
Simultaneously the permeability of the classrooms to the central courtyard / playground and context is conducive to a positive learning environment whereby children always see each other and nature hence anchoring a sense of belonging to a community.
In order to be self-sufficient and comfortable the school adopts several sustainability measures such as:
A rainwater collection system whereby, a peripheral gutter on the roof harvests rain water and guides it to a tank situated at the lowest level of the site near the kitchen and toilets.
Architecturally, the protruding roof ensures solar shading while louvered windows, fans and roof geometry enable passive cooling and ventilation.
In terms of energy, photovoltaic panels for electricity and solar thermal collectors for hot water are installed on the roof and strategically oriented north.
Construction-wise, the school tries to depend on locally sourced and available materials while inspiring itself from the local vernacular. The walls, built upon a cyclopean concrete foundation, are constituted of compressed earth blocks (CEB) braced together by a peripheral concrete ring beam. The pitched roof is made of wooden trusses and wood struts substructure covered by dried grass.Read Less