Sixty-one regional winners were entered into the Corobrik SAIA Architectural Awards. The Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool, Art Campus, Lynnwood Road, Pretoria by Mathews & Associates Architects, won an SAIA Award of Merit
When the pre- and post- construction areal images are considered, the site constraints are clearly revealed. This Art Campus at the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool is really located on the most difficult part of the limited available area of the site occupied by the school. This ‘non-site’ is wedged between the existing school and the railway line of the Gautrain. The older part of the school is a well-proportioned courtyard/perimeter block layout. With the main assembly hall of the school placed centrally in this well-defined space, it is also the symbolic and functional heart of the school. The layout of this new Art Centre is used to complete the courtyard and to create a visual and acoustic barrier between the school and the Gautrain line.
The older parts of the school have a distinct architectural language that is characterized by red face bricks walls and with pitched roofs covered with corrugated iron roof sheeting. Out of respect for this tradition the architects continued with this architectural language.
The Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool hosts one of the largest music departments at any school in South Africa. The School thus, decided to create a permanent and well-equipped building for this programme. The accommodation of the centre consists of a music and orchestra room, a recording studio, practice rooms, class rooms and staff facilities.
The architects used this brief to complete the main courtyard of the school in a sensible and logical manner. They have also used art works and subtle detailing to demonstrate the rhythm and structure of music in the project. The detailing of the building is sensible and robust. The architects understood that their detailing had to minimize upkeep and that it had to last for a long time. Much attention has been given as to how the new building would complete the old courtyard. This they have achieved with great success.
The Art Centre at the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool creates the impression that it has always been there, that it is not the ‘new kid on the block’, but that it is ready to engage with and to contribute to the continuing traditions of the school. This is also its best and lasting architectural contribution.