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Lebone II College - Hall and Refectory
Phokeng, North West

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AFRITECTS ARCHITECTS: Architect
ACTIVATE ARCHITECTS: Architect

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Date:2010
Type:College
Status:Extant


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25°35'55.96" S 27°07'30.28" E Alt: 1304m
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Architect's Notes

The two buildings form the foreground façade of the civic core, are linked by a semi-circular arcade, which defines the entrance and the backdrop for the amphitheatre.

The entrance draws you into the shaded amphitheatre.
The central arcade leads northwards into another arcade along the West façade of the Refectory, with a progressively diminishing height, and southwards into an arcade along the West façade of the Hall, with a progressively increasing height.

On the Eastern facades clay-tile screens protect from the sun and act as cooling devices allowing air to flow through.

The stepped curved roof profiles offer clerestory lighting _ North light into the Refectory and South light into the Hall.

The Refectory is spatially like one large veranda: the long side opens through multiple glass doors on the arcade; the southern curved edge wall sliding completely open through a 7 M high ‘Abracadabra’ door.
The basins at every door entrance celebrate the ritual of cleansing before a meal.
The Kitchen, along the Northern edge of the main eating space, also has clerestory lighting and only needs to switch on the lights at night.
The North side delivery yard and the laundry are screened from view by a stepped vegetable garden.

The Hall is cooled by its Eastern screen, set 1 M away from the building, and by its fin-walls on the arcaded edge that simultaneously give privacy to the glass doors.

A solid curved wall on its northern edge, facing the amphitheatre, has pyramidal forms to assist the acoustics of the open-air space, as it serves as a back-drop for a performing choir facing the amphitheatre.
Internally, a stepped choir above the change rooms _ and directly behind the stage _ offers a fantastic stage depth of 15 M. This innovation offers performances that engage a choir that is seen simultaneously by all looking directly at the stage. This internal choir area is also backlit by clerestory lighting.

The basic parti of the Hall is like that of a church: it has side aisles and a central space. The side aisles define the movement zones.

The natural lighting, cool interior and the stepped choir configuration behind the stage give this building a unique character and re-invent the standard 'school hall' brief.

Award of Merit Citation

The two buildings are linked by a semi-circular arcade with an amphitheatre, creating an assembly, gathering and socialising space that defines the main complex entrance. By being the central gathering space, this semi-circular arcade and amphitheatre replicate the kgotla space typical in traditional Tswana settlement planning. The propositions of the two buildings and this open kgotla space are well-balanced, creating a phenomenal space that is inviting, and allows the visitor to place him or herself within what reads and feels like the heart of the Lebone II College. There is a poetic synergy in the manner the three spaces naturally flow from one to the other.

Above this kgotla space hovers an extraordinary cable and metal shading device, which brings to mind the tree or trees always found within the kgotla to provide shading that cools the heat of the sub-Saharan African sun. Overall, the ensemble of the two buildings flanking the kgotla, together with the shading device, is evidence that the architects were strategically borrowing from traditional Tswana settlement design, in line with the school's aspiration to be both a celebration and a centre for the advancement of Tswana culture and language.

The tactile contrasting yet simultaneous mirroring of the hall's three-dimensional jagged facade with the refectory's two-dimensional smooth patterned facade, result in an enhanced visually invigorating experience of the buildings. The colour and visual texture of these creatively complementing facades allude to the rocky outcrops that form a backdrop for these buildings. Filtered light is used to soften what is usually experienced as a militaristic hall and refectory space within a college into a homely intimate community and gathering space.

The photographs on this page were taken by Leon Krige

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

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