The African School for Excellence (ASE) educational model was designed specifically to address the needs and challenges of African secondary school scholars that are eager to learn, but with barriers such as school funding and tuition costs keeping many of them from reaching their full potential.
A construction firm had originally won the contract to provide a turn-key service on ASE’s flagship campus in Tsakane (that is to act as designer and architect as one.) This firm had done a feasibility study that showed that by combining a 30-classroom school, ablutions, an administration block and multipurpose hall in a single structure one could save almost 50% of the cost of a traditional school.
The firms initial design proposals were rejected by ASE and Local Studio were hired as design architects on the project. We were immediately excited by the idea that a school could borrow from industrial warehouse typologies in the East Rand, And with the notion of ‘school as megastructure’ in mind we designed the building as a series of 6 U-shaped classroom clusters arranged around a vast central hall space. Each of these classroom clusters (termed ‘learning communities’) are designed around the ASE education model which is designed to rotate learners between spaces for instructional learning, peer-based learning and self-study throughout a school day, which starts at 07h00 and ends at 16h30.
The campus design also facilitates outdoor learning and sliding walls allow for pop up classrooms in the central hall space when needed. The 900 square metre hall space is imagined as a large courtyard with a light-weight sculptural roof, floating above the classroom buildings. The main urban intervention in the building is the extrusion of the building’s east elevation outwards to create a triple-volume entrance portico designed to welcome Tsakane into the building. This portico, along with the building’s faceted roof is visible from far away in Tsakane.