Sol Plaatje University
Savage + Dodd Architects cc - South Africa
Drawings, plans, elevations
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Sol Plaatje University, located in Kimberley in the Northern Cape is one of two new universities to be set up in post Apartheid South Africa in response to increasing access to higher education. The design for the university, located in the heart of Kimberley as an urban campus integrated into the fabric of the town and seen as a catalytic urban regeneration project, was undertaken as a two stage design competition. The Architects began this process by imagining the kinds of spaces that a new contemporary university might contain. We imagined a series of users through a day – night cycle; what would they be doing where ? We explored ideas through a narrative attached to the development of the design that attached voices and people to the kinds of spaces that we imagined. We thought that the architectural language of the new university should be driven through a contemporary response to an environmentally appropriate architecture, which places the buildings in the landscape of the city. It should be low key and modest with certain iconic highpoints that identify the university as a special place. A further exploration centred around the concept of new university building types as multi purpose buildings that encourage sharing of resources and the uniting of disciplines in vibrant cross – fertilizing containers, at the heart of the student experience. These typologies which contain a mix of uses and integrate both formal and informal social spaces within them are integral to the concept of multi functional Precincts. As we explored Kimberley and the landscape of the Northern Cape, we came to appreciate the multi layered landscapes marked by ancient habitation and archetypal building elements. Some of these have been translated into elements in the building; the metaphor of the tree, the waterpan, the colonial verandah and the rock engravings of Wildebeeskuil and Driekopseiland. This building, part of the first phase of the University, is a multi-purpose building that faces onto an urban square and together with the adjoining building wraps around a central internal courtyard. It consists of three distinct parts which relate to the placement of the building on the site, and articulate different uses. It comprises a 174 room residence, a Dining Hall and Kitchen, Teaching Venues, Academic Offices and ground floor retail space onto the square The building design process incorporated comprehensive strategies in relation to material selection, accessibility standards and environmental sustainability. It incorporates a combination of passive and mechanical heating and cooling solutions including a TABS system, rain water harvesting and greywater use through a centralised district plant solution. Once a building is complete it takes on a life of its own and makes its own stories. The story of Sol Plaatje University has just begun.
3 word address features
selling.shirt.cheering : the entrance canopy to the building is designed as an iconic piece, a memory of industrial mining headgear of the Kimberley landscape. This takes you into the entrance area of the building and into the circulation verandah. tribal.masking.dreamer : the large verandah entrance space to the building is separated from the courtyard by a wind driven louvre screen which provides shading to the building. This screen made of movable stainless steel panels with coloured perspex fins moves in the wind and provides an constant interplay of coloured light and shadow on the verandah space. blaring.beeline.packets : the internal courtyard to residence building is a quiet contemplative space. Surrounded by coloured glass which lines the walkway façade of the building, it provides a cool courtyard respite from the harsh climate.
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