Durban, ZA | Cape Town, ZA | Mexico, MX


Sol Plaatje University Student Resource Centre

South Africa’s future depends on radically transformed education, from Early Childhood Development to University andeverything inbetween.

To play its instrumental part in this ambitious national goal, the project sets out to activate and sustain the primary catalytic elements of the education ecology at the new Sol Plaatje University, from a renewed collective culture of learning to greatest individual potentialisation.

The project derives from two principal moves. It offers a series of deep, flexible, well serviced, passively illuminated and thermally moderated stacked platforms. As piazzas in the urban fabric, each platform is accessed from it’s perimeter so that movement is across and up in a three dimensional network of interchange between learners, educators, books and digital media. And these stacked platforms, like geological stratifications, are all sheltered within an entirely independent 20cm thick concrete shell directly referencing the grass-reinforced vernacular Brakdak tradition of this super-arid climate.

The Thermally Activated Building System [TABS] of chilled or heated hot water reticulation through all the concrete slabs and roof has proven to radically moderate the internal climate from extreme ambient heat and cold across the seasons and diurnal temperature range.

With its upwardly rotating carapace terminating in one of the higher structures in the predominantly low-slung desert city, the project has become a landmark within the new university, its broader context and the vast landscape, re-positioning education as the new focus of a place once identified as the centre of the global Diamond Rush.

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Status: Built
Location: Kimberley, ZA
Firm Role: Architect
Additional Credits: Contractor : Murray & Dickson
Engineer Structural : Aurecon
Engineer Mechanical : Element
Engineer Electrical : Aurecon
Engineer Wet Services : Aurecon
Quantity Surveyor : KDM
Environmental : PJ Carew Consulting
Acoustic Consultant : LinSpace
Landscape Architect : Insite Group