Michaelhouse, the Anglican Diocesan College of Natal founded in 1896, has an international reputation. Apart from its academic excellence, the distinctive architecture of the inter-linked quadrangles inspires a tremendous sense of belonging among its pupils. The red brick of the gracious old buildings – and the architectural style – are typical of the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands area from a long gone era.
Hardly surprising, then, that when new expansions to the campus were necessary, Corobrik, with some 115 years of business to its credit, was chosen to supply the bricks necessary for the building. Corobrik has supplied face bricks and pavers for substantial buildings and landscaping projects around the world, from the USA, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Arabian Gulf countries, to the Indian Ocean Islands and other African states.
Architect Nick Grice of Grice Bellars Architects in Pietermaritzburg, who have designed the beautiful new buildings perfectly in keeping with the original style, using Corobrik’s Firelight Satin face brick. While not exactly the same as the original buildings, it was an excellent match for the original, salmon pink brick. “The new science block was completed last year, while the Heritage Centre was finished this year. Currently, we are busy building a new quad and boarding houses,” he said.
The blend of the old and the new red brick buildings is masterful: the science block looks as though it has been there for years, while the Heritage Centre is as pleasing to the eye as are the older, original buildings.
Murray Witherspoon, Michaelhouse marketing manager, said: “Not more than five or six years would have passed since the founder, James Cameron Todd, ferried 77 boys from Loop Street in Pietermaritzburg to the school’s current home in Balgowan in 1901, without there being some sort of major building project under way.
“The school has continued to grow, almost organically, for 117 years, evolving into the distinctive interlinked quadrangles which 567 boys from around the world today call home. Throughout, a great deal of energy, thought, and attention to detail has been applied to the consistency, which is a hallmark of the school’s characteristic red brick buildings. The school’s unique environment has become a touchstone of something enduring to the 6 500 living Old Boys scattered around the globe, and this is in no small measure because of the way the school’s facilities, regardless of era, just feel as though they are meant to be there. We are extremely happy with the new buildings and that they match so well the original building style and colour.”