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Y.S. Innovations & Designs

2nd year architectural technology academic paper

Major Integrated Project 2011

Yusuf Sampson 210044594

CPUT 2nd year architectural technology

Yusuf Sampson 210044594

Contents Introduction ................................................................................................1 Part 1: Academic design-build projects .....................................................3 Part 2: Green schools .................................................................................4 Part 3: Multi-grade and small rural schools ................................................6 Part 4: St. Michael’s elementary school .....................................................8 References ................................................................................................9 Appendix: selected images of schools analyzed ......................................10


Y.S. Innovations & Designs

Major Integrated Project 2011: Design-Build Project

Introduction This year’s Major Integrated Project (MIP) involves the ‘greening’ of a selected rural school, namely the St. Michaels Primary School in Elgin, Grabouw, with the intention of improving the learning environment of the existing school. The MIP can be classified as an academic development project which should, in my opinion, be carried out in a sequence of Test-Design-Build. This will involve gaining an awareness of the problem, and rough ideas for possible solutions. I say this because a foundation of thorough conceptual understanding of what is required will avoid having and/or selecting unfinished designs, which are untested, and which may not work at the end of the day. To gain this conceptual understanding, we will look at an international academic design-build, several successful green schools, and multi-grade schools and then apply the knowledge gained to our own designbuild at St. Michaels, which will be reflected upon after completion.


Academic design-build projects T.T. Minor Elementary School, Central District, Seattle This design-build project involved improving a primary school for children challenged with dyslexia and other ailments, and was done by Howard S. Wright Neighbourhood Design/Build Studio (a group offered by the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington where students design and build community projects), and the parents of the children, teachers/staff from the school and people of the community. The school is a non-profit government school, which was in a very poor state. There were also very few children enrolled at the school at the time, and those that were consisted of predominantly black children, and children of lower income families. Many critical issues challenged the school, and most important among those issues were impeded teaching and learning. The direct and indirect learning environment was not good; the school was a mess, and there were social issues of racism (which was not direct but was transmitted in the way people and children interact with one another) as well as life at home affecting the children’s willingness and capacity to learn. After time, change and collaboration took effect and improvements to the school began. The design of the master plan was for a stage in the outdoor area, adjacent to two west-facing classrooms. This would liven up the otherwise flat and concrete playground as well as blur the boundary between fun and learning from the outside, where teachers were putting in their efforts to make learning fun/rewarding from inside. The pedagogic rationale was to make an environment where the children would love coming to school, enjoy school and then from that positivity be able to learn more efficiently. The students of HSW Studio identified the types of activities which the children engaged in, and of the many activities, double-dutch jump roping and hip hop dancing were predominant. The children displayed skill beyond their years in these activities. On the school’s side, the children started setting good examples for the each other and were being recognised for modelling excellence, showing the learners that each of them are capable, respected and valued by all. The stage would be a place for them to perform, play (keeping the younger children in mind) and serve for events such as graduations and award ceremonies. Studio participants came up with the design of a stage complex: three round stages of different sizes and levels, connected by an S-shaped handicap accessible ramp with additional stairs for the more formal procedures. The construction of the stage complex was that of a cast concrete base, with the round stages being constructed of timber framework, with decking made of a recycled material sourced by a student. In the background of the stage, a low wall with painted steel vertical serves as a buffer between the playground and school building. New bamboo plants were planted in barrels, and a steel gate securely enclosed the area. During construction, the students assisted the people contracted to build the structure, and mainly helped with constructing the timber work and doing the runs, fetching materials and tools, and painting. The project was successful in my opinion, as the children were receiving a better learning experience and acquiring better life skills after the design build was completed.


Green schools Chartwell School, Seaside, California Working with Chartwell School, architect Toby Long and his design/build/prefab company designed, prefabricated and installed two green portable classroom structures at Chartwell School as a response to the school’s immediate need for classrooms. The classrooms were designed to complement the existing buildings on the school campus, while providing a hint of distinction between old and new. Focus was put on the indoor-environmental quality, connection to the outdoors, and building educational opportunities into the design. Longer northern and southern facades to promote day lighting, with courtyard and trails between parallel classrooms, recreation and gathering places and a science garden built into the landscape. The school is described as green because it is not only very environmentally aware but it is also environmentally active, and has made use of various leading edge environmental systems and specifications to achieve brilliant sustainability. Day lighting has been planned and used effectively: large, carefully positioned windows (with composite frames) and opposing operable clerestory windows and skylights, all provide natural light, reduce glare provide ventilation and reduce electricity consumption by 50%. Well insulated roofs reduce heat and catch rainwater for use for dual flush toilets, and when in excess during the wet season, the science garden and irrigation system. The classroom structures also make use of certified lumber, radiant floor heating systems, high-recycled content gypsum board, nonformaldehyde insulation and non-VOC paints. The structures also make use of technology such as ventilation systems being connected to carbon dioxide sensors and day light and occupant sensing lighting systems for fluorescent lights. Prefabricated classrooms and sustainability as demonstrated in Chartwell School can most definitely be used in South Africa, and could be of great success in not only providing more schools in less time, but also in improving the learning environment which would increase the terribly low pass rate seen in the country.

Panyaden School, Chiang Mai, Thailand Panyaden is a bilingual school which aims to deliver a holistic education, integrating Buddhist principals and green awareness into the primary school curriculum. 24H architecture and Chiangmai Life Construction were contracted to design and build the environmentally friendly school buildings on a site is situated south of the city of Chiang Mai, in the surroundings of a former fruit orchard where the tallest mountains meet the rice fields. The primary school consists of an informal arrangement of sala and classroom pavilions along pathways inspired by the shape of the tropical antler horn fern. The classroom pavilion structures are constructed with adobe for the external walls, and rammed earth for the interior walls, with cupboards and shelving integrated into the structure. Reclaimed glass from bottles and washing machine windows were framed with recycled local hardwood, and bring indirect natural lighting into the classrooms. The bamboo roof is well insulated and the curved contours of the roof mirror the mountains on the horizon. The sala pavilion structures are used for common functions and also serve as openair classrooms. They are constructed of columns, made with bundles of bamboo, 4

reaching upwards from stone foundations to support a bamboo canopy, based on the form of leaves, birds and natural elements found in daily Thai life. The materials used to construct the school were all locally sourced and have been naturally treated. The children are taught about sustainability and how to grow organic vegetables and rice, without pesticides, which are grown on the school property. Waste water is treated and reused and food waste is recycled to make organic fertilizers (compost) and biogas for cooking. All of this results in a school with a minimal carbon footprint, which is self-sustaining and performs efficiently. I believe that by practicing critical regionalism and using natural building techniques, schools in South Africa can improve their learning environments, brining the outside in, and stimulation learning and green awareness. Schools could also make use of open-air classrooms with structures similar in construction to the Khoi huts for example, a good example of effective old technologies with almost no carbon footprint.

College of the Atlantic (COA), Bar Harbour, United States The college was founded in 1969, by a small group in the local community who found a location in which the context of the area was ideal for all year-round learning. The founders had a clear intention; to be the first college in the US with its primary focus being the relationship between human and the environment – human ecology. The faculty and students explored the harbour and forests in the surroundings together, studying the whales and discussing texts from naturalists. The community was close knit, and is still the same today. The student residences consist of three duplex buildings. This was requested by the students, as they felt that the initial, large, single building design was too exclusive. They wanted smaller individual buildings, for a more intimate experience, with common-spaces on the ground floor open to the entire community. This redesign routed the campus pathway through the housing for an experience similar to walking through a village street. The majority of the buildings on campus are reused and renovated older buildings in the town, which now serve as the campus centre, admin building, and classrooms etc. The school is described as green because of a large number of factors, and has become green not by enforcement, but by students and faculty driving the effort by their own will. The student residence buildings are exceptionally well insulated, reducing heating load, and make use of a wood pellet furnace which burns renewable energy as well as making use of composting toilets to save water. The campus also only makes use of electricity derived from hydropower; uses fluorescent energy saving lighting and wind turbines partially powers their own farm, which offers organic produce to campus, local schools and food banks. All of the above and more, have allowed the school to be carbon-neutral since 2007. The methods used, and most importantly the attitude adapted, can most definitely be used for schools in South Africa. It is important to want to be of benefit to the environment, and to willingly put the effort in to do so, not to be forced to. If schools start teaching children about the environment and show them how to sustain it by using energy efficient systems, recycling and reusing etc, they will pass that on to their parents, and one day to children of their own, effectively greening the country from the seeds.


Multi-grade and small rural schools Imhoff’s Gift Waldorf School, Cape Town, South Africa This was the primary school that I attended as a child; I started in pre-primary and ended in grade 7. My years at this school were possibly the best years of my education, and have contributed largely to me being the person that I am today. The school is situated in a pine forest on the back of Imhoff farm, and is one of few small, rural schools in the area which is a largely urban environment. The school was built in response for the need of a suitable primary school for the children leaving the Montessori pre-school which was on the farm at the time (I was one of the children from the small pre-school, a choice by my parents who did not want me in the government schools in the area). In a collaborative effort from a group of parents, the first of several timber classrooms was built, nestled between the trees, and progressively over the years more classrooms have been built in the forest becoming part of the natural environment. The teaching methods of the school are based on the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner, and focuses on nurturing innate resourcefulness and using imagination and creativity, as well as emphasising on discipline and respect from within. Each class in the school has one teacher throughout all of their grades, and once that teacher’s class leaves for high school, the teacher will take on a new group of children and nurture them through their years. This allows for much individual development, and gives the teachers the opportunity to communicate with the parents about their children’s growth, characters and needs and involve the parents in the development of their children. The teaching methodology also encourages teamwork and collaborative learning, so the children learn how to communicate and work with others from an early age. The architecture of the school never had a set ‘master plan’ to begin with; instead the classrooms were placed in the forest without disturbing any part of the environment. The landscape of the forest contributes to the learning experience, with natural footpaths and outdoor learning spaces underneath the trees. During teaching, children are often outdoors playing interactive games which are integrated into the lessons and curriculum, ensuring that the children love coming to school, and that the lessons taught ‘stick’. Many lessons involve drawing and painting, and in the natural environment children quickly grasp the concepts of scale, perceptions of depth and expressive use of colour. The classrooms do not have electricity; instead they have many windows and make use of candle light on darker winter days. The unique location of the school encourages concern for the environment, and a sense of responsibility to the physical environment and to other people in the social environment. The school is successful because of the nature of the teaching and learning environment; coming to school is not a sit down in uniform rows of desks and learn in a military fashion, it is to learn, to experience, to grow and to enjoy doing so. It is as much about personal development and acquiring life skills as it is about learning the required curriculum. The school supports teaching and learning wholeheartedly, and that makes a big difference. I believe that the children which come from this school have a richer knowledge, greater understanding and more appreciation for the world. Today I still benefit from my years at this school, and being part of the first small group of children to leave the school, it is truly amazing to see how individual and successful in life we have become.


Montic Factory Crèche, Heidelberg, South Africa The ‘Montic Factory Kindergarten’ was a project undertaken by architectural students from Germany as part of their course. The crèche is part of a project series, by a partnership of various institutions, comprising of three kindergartens and two skills centres that are to be built in the rural area which has little infrastructure and much poverty and unemployment. The kindergarten is on the same site as the existing school which gets is electricity from a nearby milk factory and water from external storage tanks. The design idea was to create an inspiring and diverse environment where children can both learn and play. The timber frame structure has a rectangular footprint, and the modular construction gives four classrooms, two of which are separated by collapsible partitioning that can open up to connect the two classrooms, allowing the teacher to address two classes/age groups at once. The classrooms as well as freestanding kitchen and bathrooms are covered by a roof with large overhangs that protects the kindergarten from the intense sun, and is also raised from the structures below to provide ventilation. From the classrooms there is a transitional space to the outside consisting of a veranda and a pergola which is covered by stretched red cloth suspended by cables. The position of the kindergarten relative to the school creates a courtyard / safe play area. The architecture allows for conventional, yet different, classroom spaces which can be joined to accommodate for multiple classes. Additionally, with children to being at the crèche, it prevents overcrowding at the existing school. The project is a success in that it is low cost, very practical and no space is left unused.

Olifantsvlei preschool, Orange Farm (Johannesburg), South Africa The Olifantsvlei preschool was the result of a collaboration between a group of architectural students from an Austrian university (and Studio 3 – Institute for Experimental Architecture) and the local authorities of the Olifantsvlei. The preschool is part of school grounds which hosts facilities for primary and secondary education. Many of the children attending the preschool are aids orphans, and the structure serves as a place for them to play and enjoy being children. The structure is not a conventional enclosed building, but rather a lightweight space enclosing system with wild roof canopy angles and bright colours defining play places and classrooms. The structure not only protects from the sun and ventilates well, it creates a learning landscape centred on the children. The structure consists of a steel frame covered with corrugated iron sheeting, acting as a canopy over lightweight timber classrooms below, constructed with shutter ply as a cladding. The preschool is seen as successful because the structure has a practical use, is robust, serves its purpose well and is inspirational. The angles in the design, use of the materials, and scale of the structure exercises the children’s spatial experience and will help promote positive growth.


St. Michaels Elementary School 2nd year design-build, Elgin – Grabouw, Cape Town As part of the second year programme, the second year architectural technology students of CPUT were tasked with a design-build project involving a multi-grade school in Elgin in Grabouw, Cape Town. The rural context consists of many farms and orchards, on which most of the small community worked. The first site visit to the school was to familiarize the students with the situation of the school; there were many children per classroom, and all teaching took place indoors which could get very hot at times. The only shade area was near the entrance of the school on sloped ground under the trees. This time was also used for the measuring up to create base-drawings to work from. The aim of the project now became to improve the teaching / learning environment, for teachers and school students by giving them more a useable space within the school grounds. With the information gathered, design proposals were made by the students. The final design for the first phase of the project did not involve any changes to the existing classrooms. Instead, a pergola-type structure was to be used to create a more organised space, connecting the classroom and playground space, and creating a defined entrance for access to classrooms and offices. Drawings and 3D models were done by students and lecturers. The structure was to be composed of A shipping container to serve as a new office, gum poles as the primary structure, selected timber (meranti) for the roof structure, recycled corrugated sheeting for the roof covering and recycled fruit crates for the decking and steps. The build itself was carried out by solely by students. The students formed groups, who put considerable effort into sourcing materials, getting sponsorships and quotes, organizing transportation for materials and catering services. Progress from the start involved site establishment and setting out (with assistance/guidance from an architect and a natural builder) and preparation of materials, after which the primary gum pole structure was cast in place with large concrete footings to provide lateral support. After this the students broke up into teams to tackle individual elements of the design, namely; the pergola, top step, bottom steps, fireplace and garden. This was positive in that with smaller groups students were more involved and felt more motivated to work, but it slowed work down due to clashes between groups because of there being few tools available to work with. The pergola took the most time to construct, but was completed accurately and in time, with a tectonic look as all of the structure and fixings were boldly visible. The top and bottom stairs were completed swiftly and neatly, and after being sanded and sealed with an eco friendly, white timber preserving paint, one would never say that recycled materials were used. The fireplace also took some time as a load bearing wall had to be broken through, and the new wall had to be re-built because shortcuts were taken. In the end the clean stone finish was impressive and well built. The garden was landscaped with three planter boxes made of the remaining timber, and a unique composting method was used to fill them in preparation for new flowers and vegetables. The final finishing touch of the project was painting a wall in a variety of colours, where the children and university students left their handprints as a mark of being part of this successful project. The school appreciated this intervention very much, and the principal stated that us students, by working hard, working together, cleaning up after ourselves and by listening well to the people guiding us, have set an example for school children to follow. The design build gives the school a space to be proud of and which can be utilized effectively throughout the future of the school. 8

References: Proceedings of the 7th International CDIO Conference, Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen, June 20 - 23, 2011 116_paper.pdf Neighbourhood Design/Build Studio: Project: Spring 2002, 2011: .html The Power of School Autonomy and Family Involvement In Positive Learning Outcomes, 2011: winnemo.htm Panyaden School, 2011: College of the Atlantic, 2011: The Princeton Review, Green Honour Roll, 2011: College of the Atlantic Sustainability Report Card, College of the Atlantic, 2011: Imhoff Waldorf School, 2011: 'Ora Joubert, 2009, 10 Years 100 Buildings, Architecture in a Democratic South Africa, Bell-Roberts Publishing Montic factory kindergarten project, 2011: Olifantsvlei preschool, South Africa, 2011:[tt_n ews]=180 Studio 3 - Olifantsvlei, Kliptown, South Africa, 2011:


Appendix: Selected images of analysed schools (The images are sourced from the respective websites in the references. I do not own any of the images; they are the property of the respective websites)

TT Minor Elementary School

Chartwell School

Panyaden School


College of the Atlantic

Imhoff’s Gift Waldorf School

Imhoff’s Gift Waldorf School, crèche 11

Montic factory kindergarten

Olifantsvlei preschool

Olifantsvlei preschool 12

St Michaels Elementary School:

The pergola & bottom step

The top step / deck


The bottom step (untreated)

View from lower grounds

The pergola & fireplace



2nd year academic paper