This is the pilot school in the African School for Excellence’s (ASE) inner-city schools programme, which looks to place small-scale, low-fee private schools in over 100 locations in the Johannesburg CBD over the next ten years. Naturally, very few commercial spaces in urban areas are entirely suitable for school purposes and the project is one application of a flexible tool kit Local Studio developed for the restructuring of typical shop, office and factory spaces.
As with the ASE Tsakane campus, this project is designed to support the ASE’s innovative education model, characterised by three forms of learning – instructional, partner-learning and self-study. The design looked to manifest each of these requirements as clear, free-standing follies within the converted ground-floor factory space. The design also makes use of advanced acoustic technologies, allowing for many open-plan learning spaces.
As a secondary requirement, the client sought to provide an outdoor learning and recreational space, which manifested itself as a steel and polycarbonate stoop, claimed from the wide sidewalk space adjacent to the building. This stoop performs a mediating role between inside and outside and activates and otherwise quiet street. During the course of construction an art gallery housing high-end wine and whisky bar opened across the street, emphasising the cultural and programmatic diversity of the area.