Somerset College Innovation Centre

Exciting new ESTEAM Centre celebrates culture of dynamic school

Somerset College is a co-educational independent school in South Africa, located on a beautiful and expansive estate in the Winelands of the Western Cape.

Following a lecture by Michál Cohen on 21st-century school design, Walters & Cohen was approached by the school to undertake a masterplan, with particular focus on pre-prep, theatre, boarding and sports facilities.

It became clear that new accommodation for ESTEAM subjects - Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths - was a priority for the school. The new two-storey Innovation Centre co-locates these subjects to inspire innovative and interdisciplinary study. The building is designed to feel very open and welcoming; the entrance leads directly into a large, double-height space for testing ideas and making prototypes. State-of-the-art resources – a 3D printer, a wind tunnel, sewing machines and laser cutters, among others ­– provide pupils with the tools to experiment and be creative. Classrooms on the ground and first floor are for thinking, inventing and problem solving, and include an innovation space, robotics, art theory, physics, a presentation area, quiet research and an entrepreneurial space. Maths and science areas are divided between physical and desk-based work, and all rooms offer flexible layouts.

The gabled roof creates a generous volume, and accommodates skylights to naturally light the spaces as well as PVs to harvest solar energy. The building makes use of a level change to create an outdoor amphitheatre stair, and is surrounded by external learning terraces on both levels, shaded by green vines trained up tension cables.

The Innovation Centre sits prominently near the entrance of the College, celebrating the importance of creativity at the school, welcoming visitors on arrival and knitting together the junior and senior school sites.


ClientSomerset College