Hatfield Square in Pretoria, designed by architecture and interior architecture practice Paragon, represents the latest trend for student accommodation, focusing on an accessible and safe mixed-use development with all the necessary amenities.
The 2 200-bed project is owned by Redefine and Respublica, and managed by Respublica Student living. The 51 000 m2 development, excluding basement levels, has given a new lease of life to the Hatfield Square area by incorporating 3 500 m2 of retail space, including a mix of restaurants and line shops facing Burnett Street.
Paragon Senior Project Architectural Technologist Antoinette Kloppers notes that this exciting development has been designed specifically to stand out from its surroundings. “The design not only ensures that each unit has maximum access to views and light, but also has the added benefit of promoting individual communities with their own amenities and shared spaces, within the larger scheme.”
These include a rooftop gym overlooking the retail area, a computer centre, large study centres, recreation rooms, laundry facilities, a swimming pool, and landscaped gardens and a braai area. There are a total of 85 common facilities spread out over the four buildings and seven courtyards comprising the development, of which six are exclusively for student use. It is anticipated that Block D, facing Prospect Street, will be the highest building in the area upon its completion.
The student accommodation itself focuses on five modular unit types, namely single and double-sharing, single en suite with own kitchenette, double-sharing en suite and apartment-style units with four beds, own ablutions and kitchenettes. “This creates a range of rental options, with common study rooms and lounge/kitchen areas on each floor,” Kloppers highlights.
“The precinct benefits from different scales of public, semi-public, and private spaces. Common areas are defined on the façade with sculptural forms and colours linking back to the theme of it being essentially a neighbourhood. Rooms are defined on the façade by an array of window patterns that reflect the diversity of accommodation types,” Klopper elaborates.
She adds that the Burnett Street side of the development acknowledges the history of Hatfield Square by recreating an active lifestyle courtyard, where students and the public can socialise and enjoy a variety of retail offerings and restaurants.
Paragon is a well-known adopter of sustainable design and the latest advances in ‘green’ building. At Hatfield Square, various sun studies were undertaken to optimise building heights to ensure that all rooms have maximum access to air and light. The result is a precinct of four interlinked buildings, arranged around a series of intimate courtyard spaces, where students can enjoy the smaller neighbourhoods within their blocks. Each building is defined by a ‘theme’ colour, which is visible internally and externally.
Aerated Autoclaved Concrete (AAC) blocks were selected as the main construction material due to their thermal and fire-insulation properties, which also accelerated the construction programme. An Exterior Insulation Finishing System (EIFS) from Terraco South Africa was applied to the blockwork. Various textured finishes of the coating were applied in three shades of grey to create an interesting relief pattern on the façade. The buildings also feature natural ventilation, water-storage tanks, and heat farms to reduce energy consumption.
Paragon, well-known for its iconic buildings in Sandton and Rosebank in Johannesburg, has been diversifying into different sectors such as residential and student accommodation, and even industrial projects. It is one of the largest integrated practices of its kind on the continent, and has undertaken designs in 18 countries, including Brazil, over the past seven years. Projects in 11 African countries have been constructed and are complete, while six are in construction phase.