CIfA 2019 Award for Architecture: New Classrooms for Wynberg Girls High School – Noero Architects


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The spatial question for this project was: how to fit more classrooms into an historic school precinct with a clear and particular double-storey historic form, while keeping the central courtyard and views to the mountain and allowing the existing classrooms to function during construction. This answer is brilliant in its simplicity. This addition shows how one idea can solve a problem effectively.

Two new rows of four classrooms each are entered from the original quadrangle colonnade. The old flat courtyard grass is lifted and bowed elliptically as a new earth roof which works climatically as a thermal mass for the classroom temperature management.

The work demonstrates a very efficient layering of programme. The curved-up shape offers good views of the mountain at the highest areas, a place to lounge at break time on the grass while people-watching and an outdoor performance arena.

The classrooms below are compact with glass doors onto the colonnade. Light washes in from angled roof lights onto white ceilings. The sliding-folding acoustic doors and bookshelves between the classrooms offer flexibility of use over time.

The profile of the plastered end elevations is distinctively new but with its plaster capping fits into the historic context of the existing school.

The architecture is successful in form and modest as a concept, as it breaks from the volumetric box form with a radical new angled roof/ground plane only, the classical rectilinear geometry of walkways remains and holds the raked section idea firmly in its place.

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