Sunshine and wine: learning among the vineyards of South Africa
In 2016, Michál spoke at a conference in South Africa about 21st-century school design. She must have made a good impression, as the senior teachers from Somerset College who were in the audience sought her out and asked us to undertake a masterplan of their beautiful and large estate in the Winelands of the Western Cape.
Working closely with the school, we identified several issues, including:
- The large campus was fragmented; buildings were widely dispersed. The headteacher was keen to find ways to link the buildings and create a heart in the school
- Drop off and pick up are disruptive and unsafe
- There is no clear reception to the whole school
- Some departments are poorly provided: music (split across the site), art, drama, general teaching in prefab buildings, and a small library
- No clear strategy for sports; pitches are scattered around the school
- Boarding and senior school numbers were set to increase
- Extra facilities such as a theatre and STEAM centre will attract parents and students
We devised options that addressed these issues, including rationalising vehicle movement to ensure pupil drop-off was clearer and safe. We also identified a way to increase senior school classroom numbers, suggested sites for boarding expansion, new admin, music, drama and ESTEAM, and offered advice on pupil locker and social areas.
Following the masterplan the school commissioned us to design a new ESTEAM Centre, which was an instant hit with staff and pupils. It sits prominently near the entrance of the College, celebrating the importance of creativity, welcoming visitors and knitting together the junior and senior school sites.
Existing zoning diagram
Map of the western end of the Cape, 18th century
View of Heidelberg Mountain from the school
Somerset College ESTEAM Centre
KZNSA Gallery, Durban
Culture & Community
Walters & Cohen Architects
2 Wilkin Street
London NW5 3NL
020 7428 9751