The Nex – Indawo Yethu by HOPE Cape Town

CCNIArchitects - Charlotte Chamberlain Nicola Irving Architects

There is a quiet confidence in the way that The Nex Indawo has been conceptualised, developed and resolved. A deep sense of care towards the emergent urban context is evident, where despite having to include fences for security, there is an openness and generosity that speaks of a hopeful and inclusive future. Unassuming structures are placed strategically along an urban spine to allow for a hierarchy of access and privacy, with the most public building positioned towards the street and the more vulnerable spaces for children placed furthest to the back of the site. Thresholds are cleverly articulated to allow for full accessibility on the one hand and legibility on the other, with due consideration for inclement weather despite the visual connections between interior and exterior spaces. The continuity between the rounded amphitheatre and gallery in the library offers an intriguing spatial device that speaks to the intention of knowledge sharing and shared community.

Although the buildings are modest in their use of material and in scale, the architects have managed to achieve beautiful spaces filled with light and generous volumes through simple gestures such as tilting roofs up to allow for clerestories, articulating ceilings with timber battens and off-setting material differences in skirtings and plinths. Clay bricks, straw-bale construction, lime plaster and linseed-based floors all contribute to a rich textural palette that is as familiar as it is welcoming.

The greatest contribution of this project lies in its partnership approach to the design process, in which social, economic and environmental issues were emphasised throughout. Despite having little to no support from local government, there is a sincere consideration to establish a spatial platform for good governance. This speaks to an ethos of Public Interest Design, where the process is as important as the product. Besides the evident collaboration between architects and landscape architects that has resulted in a seamless integration of the natural environment and the buildings, this project demonstrates a deep respect for the people who are using the space:

“Every step of the construction was done in consultation with the architects, additional experts and the HOPE Cape Town Team to combine user-friendliness, environmental impact and an urban design resulting in a functional, eye pleasing safe space for a community marred by crime. Before construction started, an extensive public participation process harvested opinions, wishes and input of the different role players and community leaders, but also the community as such” (Client’s comments).

Principle Consultant:VPUU (Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading) Michael Krause and Tiago Damasceno)

Principal Agent:CCNIArchitects

Architect:CCNIA (Charlotte Chamberlain, Nicola Irving, Abdurazaaq Chafeker, Onnalenna Letebejane and Thakirah Adam and Catherine Hall)

Landscape Architect:TKLA (Tarna Klitzner, Hayden Malan and Jess Metcalf)

Sustainable Material Consultant:Eco Design Architects and Consultants (Andy Horn)

Town Planners:ASAPH Town Planners (Phumeza Qwashu)

Quantity Surveyor:Grey Quantity Surveyors (Pty) Ltd (Gary Hendricks)

Structural & Civil Engineer:Phase one and three – NNVS (Patrick Naylor and Michael Van Schalkwyk); Phase two – Alan Hendrie Engineering

Electrical Engineer:IME Consulting Engineers (Imtiaaz Mohamed)

Mechanical & Fire Engineer:NWE Consulting Engineers (Elrico Antonie)

Acoustic Engineers:SRL South Africa (Pty) Ltd (Andrew Wade and Ayan Booyens)

Health & Safety:Safety Con cc (Rudi Groenewald)

Contractor:Phase one -Longworth & Faul (Eduan Naude and Fabian Petersen); Phase two and three: Edge to Edge 1275 cc (Chris Denny, Ashley Dingle and Gert Jordaan)

Photographer:David Malan