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Clay brick, Simply Splendid!

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A panel of broad vivid yellow, orange, green and white stripes at the front entrance is the only clue that Heideveld Primary School in Heideveld, Western Cape is not your average government learning institution! Clean, simple lines enhanced by the warm, earthy tones of Corobrik's Bergendal Satin Light face brick and punctuated by vibrant blocks of colour, ensure that this school designed by Meyer & Associates Architects, Urban Designers will inspire and motivate generations of young South Africans!


A temporary school built about 40 years ago to accommodate learners affected by forced removals, Heideveld Primary School has had more than a superficial facelift, an entire new school was designed and built! The architects were briefed to design a new school as part of the Department of Basic Education's Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) Programme to replace the existing dilapidated school buildings. The Western Cape Government was assigned the role of implementing agent.


The complete renovation of the school has taken almost two years: project briefing and design started in July 2012 and construction started on 11 March, 2013 with Phase One of the project being completed on 27 August, 2014 and Phase Two completed in November 2014.


Commenting on the complexities and logistics of the site development plan, Meyer & Associates director, Tiaan Meyer explained: Integral to the project was the demolition of the old existing structures to prepare the site for the new school buildings. However, teaching couldn't stop while this was happening and both pupils and teachers had to first be accommodated in new temporary buildings. Only once this had happened could the contractor, Basil Read, move onto site to start the new building operations. After construction, the learners moved into their new school buildings and the demolition of the last half of the old buildings to make way for a new sports field went ahead", Meyer said.


The new school buildings include 23 classrooms, four Grade R classrooms, four specialist classrooms, a computer lab, a media centre, as well as an art and music room. In addition, a new school hall accommodates a feeding kitchen and is lined by the administration building with staff room and offices on the perimeter of the space.


Taking into account the harsh natural environment of the Cape Flats, Christie van Niekerk, Corobrik Manager Western Cape said that, Corobrik Bergendal Satin Light face brick was a good choice of product and ideally suited to the modern, uncluttered design of Heideveld Primary School. Its attractive warm colour, low maintenance and durability will ensure that the school will endure and remain an exciting place of learning for generations of students in the years to come. In total, Corobrik supplied: 438 000 ROKlite plaster bricks; 208 000 Bergendal Satin Light FBS face bricks; 16 500 73mm Wheatstone Pavers PB and 26 000 50mm Wheatstone Dark Pavers PB.


Simplicity was key to the design and minimalist perimeter blocks are broken and contrasted by creative elements which have specific functions and significance, including: a timber entrance canopy and screen walls with circular opening detail all coded in bright colours which confront the rigidity of the classroom blocks.


The buildings are traditionally arranged around quads or enclosed covered courtyards that offer protection from the harsh climatic conditions of the Cape Flats and prevailing south easterly winds and driving rain. And, although the inclusion of quads and courtyards are a traditional element of many South African schools, there's nothing institutional about these spaces at Heideveld Primary which are animated with brightly coloured staircases, circular benches and striking signage. Corobrik's 73mm Wheatstone Pavers and 50mm Wheatstone Dark Pavers compliment the Bergendal Satin Light face brick finish of the buildings and were used in all internal courtyards and external paved areas.


Passive climate control and sustainable principles, too, played a large part in the design of the facility with the largest portions of the classrooms enjoying north/south orientations. The upper floors of the classroom blocks have been shifted over the lower floor to provide generous overhangs over the north facing windows cutting out direct sunlight. The eastern and western facades are articulated with perforated vertical sunscreens in bright colours and deep recesses in respond to climatic considerations. Water towers feed banks of school toilets from bore holes on the property whilst the material pallet of face brick and off-shutter concrete respond to the need for a high quality low maintenance sustainable facility.


Van Niekerk confirmed that the use of Corobrik face and clay brick products was aesthetic, environment and budget driven. The durability, resistance to fire and natural sound proofing qualities as well as the earthy palette and textures of clay face brick walls significantly reduces maintenance costs.


To a community historically stripped of its sense of value, the creative design of the new school attempts to give back a sense of dignity and pride. Van Niekerk summed up the project by stating: We are extremely honoured to be part of a collaborative effort which resulted in an environmentally sustainable school with a unique design aesthetic that will stimulate and encourage students far into the future.


The roadside entrance to Heideveld Primary.

Credit Keith Quixley Photography.