Phumelela Secondary School, in Middelburg, South Africa was in need of a facility for its feeding scheme programme for approximately 850 pupils. The client, Trans African Concessions and Project Manager Jeni Ingram, approached EarthSwitch Architects to provide a Kitchen Facility for the school in Extension 24, Nasareth, Middelburg, Mpumalanga.
“The school required a kitchen facility that could adequately prepare food for more than 850 pupils,” explains PJ du Toit from EarthSwitch. Before the facility was designed, a makeshift steel framed, corrugated shack of 3×6 metres was used as a kitchen.
“The client brief called required a sustainable solution for a food storage and kitchen area for preparation and serving areas. For this two containers were converted with a shading roof cover overhead,” he explains, and as such, two containers were converted. One container was converted into a kitchen area with cooking appliances and another container converted to be utilsed as a serving area with pass-through hatches.
The covered seating area doubles up for additional lessons and presentations. Energy demands are met through a Solar PV system providing electricity to all the electrical appliances, installing gas for cooking and water heating. Rainwater Harvesting aids in reducing potable water demands and the rain water is used for cleaning purposes only, while a Solar Chimney aids in cooling the insulated containers from heat gained from the gas hobs.
The project was recently awarded with a Commendation at the SAIA Mpumalanga Awards for Architecture. The judges had the following to say: “Budget constraints necessitated a no-nonsense, low-tech, functional approach towards the design and aesthetics. Maintenance cost constraints translated into robust finishes and into economical and sustainable energy and rainwater harvesting strategies. The project is a colourful, positive and pleasing contribution to the school and its surrounding community. Despite the limitations of using insulated and converted containers, the internal utilitarian spaces seem to function well as does the internal-external connections. The multi- functional seating area is inviting and spacious. No fuss detailing and the choice of basic materials such as timber poles, screeds and in situ concrete tops and seating, overcame the limitations of local unskilled labour. It succeeds in its intentions and has become the heart of its community who has taken proudly ownership of it.”
Kathleen Greef from the client, Trans African Concessions, says, “Phumelela Secondary is a non-fee paying school that serves as a catchment for pupils coming from poor households, most of which are either staying in RDP houses or rented back rooms. The school falls under the National School Nutrition Programme, serving a daily meal to 850 pupils. TRAC was approached to assist as the school had no safe facility to operate their kitchen from. TRAC invested in a project which provided a long-term sustainable solution, designed by EarthSwitch Architects, in the form of a self-sustainable kitchen container and seating area. The building comprises of two self-contained converted containers running on solar electricity, with rainwater catchment tanks for water provision and gas for cooking. This not only ensures it is environmentally friendly, but also alleviates monthly overheads such as water and electricity costs and is recognised by government to fit the Green Economy profile.”
EarthSwitch Architects is an established architectural practice based in Nelspruit and was founded by PJ du Toit in 2012. He completed his Masters Degree in Architecture at TUT Pretoria in 2010 and completed his final year with being awarded the Regional Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year award. “It was a challenge to ensure that the project could deliver on the expected outcomes, especially with unforeseen construction challenges arising from using local unskilled labour,” concludes du Toit. “Luckily, however, it was a success.”
LOCATION: Nasareth, Middelburg, South Africa
ARCHITECTS: EarthSwitch Architects
CLIENT: Trans African Concessions
PHOTOGRAPHY: Ron Olivier from Incynq Solutions, Nelspruit