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High School

Newton, Wellington, Western Cape, South Africa

2010 - Completed

Wellington High School was one of the first FET (Further Education and Training) Schools funded by the Western Cape Educational Department. Due to population growth in the suburb of Newton, the existing school facilities needed to be expanded to accommodate the number of students needing placement. The need for additional classrooms, halls and other school axillary buildings was the basis for the project brief. This school of 4650 m² focuses on dance, drama and music tuition, a directive from the WCED, that has found great support amongst the local residents.

The concept for the project needed to be integrated with the existing buildings on the property. The existing prefab school and administration building were to remain operational during the whole construction phase of the project. The new school hall, which can seat 500 people, has a conventional stage and a dance studio, which forms an extension and opens up onto an outdoor amphitheatre. This allows the school to put on various sized and types of performances. The dance studio and “conventional” school hall stage is separated by moveable acoustic partitions. These partitions will be opened during shows, allowing sizable dance troupes to perform, or alternatively to create space for changing scenes during stage productions. The stage area was excavated to create a semi-basement storage area for sports equipment and stage production props, minimizing the ongoing expense of hiring it. The back of the hall features a catering kitchen, which can service the hall and the neighbouring quad. A raised gallery provides space to set up lights and sound equipment during stage productions.

The administration buildings and school hall are separated from the new classroom wing by a landscaped quad. The quad has constructed benches and tree planters which will grow and provide shade from the harsh summer sun.

The classroom wing has a prominent new library, designed as a symbol of creative learning. The library features a mezzanine space for interactive group work sessions and will also be used after hours for adult education programmes. The shared classrooms such as the IT room, laboratories and music rooms, all link back to this library space.

The new conventional classrooms are arranged around two quads which double up as sports facilities after hours and during break times. Ablutions are strategically located to serve both the classrooms and the adjacent sports fields.

The project is filled with bright colours and design features which aim to create an inspiring and rich environment for students. Façades are modulated by alternating face brick and plastered panels; this creates visual interest for the users of the buildings. Buildings closer to boundary lines have mono-pitched roofs to “step down” to the scale of the surrounding neighbourhood which consists of small single storey residential units.

Wellington High School is seen as a measure of success for the local community who was very passionately involved in the motivation for the school, the design and construction phases.

Their invaluable contributions ensured a smooth development process and added value to ensure understanding of local conditions regarding the climate, local customs, love of sport and community upliftment, local labour and culture and led to innovative thinking to create a school building that is best for the microcosm that is Newton.


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