New Replacement School: Willows Primary School, Heideveld Cape Town

Neil Franks Architecture

Willows Primary School is located in the residential neighbourhood of Heideveld south of the N2 highway. The 1.66ha site is tight compared to similar facilities which inadvertently played a significant role in the success of the project.

The school is ordered around a series of courtyards which are restricted in size and have been geared to facilitate play and sports. These courts are protected from prevailing winds and weather by the flanking single and double storey buildings which also double as pavilions and ensure surveillance and safety. The scale of the site also meant that the circulation has been restricted to the minimum. There is no sprawl or left-over space as is typically characteristic of government schools.

The school displays a hard protective edge to the surrounding areas with selective glimpses into the school grounds. The placement of larger components such as the hall on the South East corner of the site was used to position the facility as a beacon in a neighbourhood where positive landmarks are in short supply. On the East side the school opens up towards the sports field, also accessible to the community, where the vertical circulation doubles as a pavilion for spectators while still retaining a sense of security.

Materials are hardwearing, cost effective and low maintenance, befitting a government institution of learning; neither cheap nor lavish but appropriate for its roe and context. The scale of the brickwork façade of the hall successfully conveys a sense of unity to the community from a distance while up close special attention to the detailing around doors windows and screens convey a sense of care and devotion which the pupils can expect behind these walls. The use of a single colour combination to complement and accent is another example of the level of restraint used by Neil Franks architecture in their response to the brief and context. There is nothing superfluous here.

The architecture of the new campus is a product of its function. It is a school which looks and feels like a school in a climate where learning institutions are struggling to find identity. The architecture provides a safe, nurturing and spacious environment where pupils can learn while at the same time instilling a sense of pride and awareness amongst both its learners and the broader community.

Architect & Principal Agent: Neil Franks Architecture (under contract awarded in 2016 to NeilMarie Architects cc) – Neil Franks, Danielle Lubbe, Clementine Hugo-Hamman, Bernard Geldenhuys

Structural/Civil Engineers: Gadomski Engineers – Dennis Belter, Kirsten de Lange

Quantity Surveyors: SAT Quantity Surveyors – Theo Lekoma, Fayaad Abrahams

Mechanical, Electrical, Fire Engineers: De Villiers & Moore Consulting Engineers – Johan Dippenaar (Electrical), Barend Esterhuizen (Fire), Tobie Heyns (Mechanical), Ilze-Marie Loots (Fire)

EMPIA Consultant: C2C Consulting Engineers – Aneeb Karriem

Heath & Safety Consultant: Siyakhatala Safety SA – Schalk van der Merwe

Main Contractor: Group Five Coastal (Pty) Ltd – Alton Jooste, Rowan Benjamin, Vuyisa Ntseke, Brian Liebermann