African Design Magazine November 2016 - Page 52

African project Arts Campus, Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool – South Africa contemporary building forms with the established historical building structures on site. Poetic spaces and architectural metaphors are a trademark of the Pretoria based architecture firm. A cherished relationship with art becomes tangible in the users experience of their architecture, evident in the design of the Music Centre too. The design elements complement the functional aspects of the building: Rhythmically placed steel columns are reminiscent of a tune leading the user to the entrance of the Arts Campus, while a wall of soldier course masonry mimics a choir, welcoming visitors and musicians alike. The new additions, together with the existing school hall, form a generous public square which boasts a steel sculpture by Cape-based artist, Strijdom van der Merwe. Van der Merwe’s focal artwork is an interactive ensemble of four oversized circular trumpets, aptly named ‘Kwartet’ (Afrikaans for quartet). Music as playful activity is made manifest in the sculpture. Concentric circles radiate like sound waves from this artwork. When asked what he believes to be the most noticeable feature of the project, Mathews notes the way in which they strung together various building shapes and forms into one whole, with the off shutter concrete portal. “Another feature is how we created various intricate and intimate urban spaces within the project. The success of this project is that it breaks away from the traditional school typology of sameness to enhance creativity and contribute to memorable experience,” he says. Playful elements further enhance the ensemble – a graphic screen of piano keys adorns the southern façade of the existing school hall, turning the previously unsightly ‘back of house’ wall of drainage pipes into a bright, inviting feature wall. The intangible and historic are celebrated with a laser cut steel screen placed on the landing of the main staircase to the first floor, a visual representation of the school’s first anthem in enlarged Braille, an embodiment of music, words and history as pattern. PROJECT TEAM “In a music centre, acoustics is one of the issues that is very important to consider,” notes Zanele Hlatshwayo of Ecophon Saint Gobain. “There are two groups of issues which need to be considered. One being issues of room acoustics; sound pressure levels, sound propagation, reverberation time and speech clarity, and the other being issues of sound insulation. The architectural practice, MAAA, engaged with an acoustic engineer to ensure 52 Location: Lynnwood, Pretoria Client: School Board of the Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool Architect: Mathews & Associates Architects Architectural team: Pieter J Mathews, Anton Smit Civil and Structural Engineer: Ellis Engineers Electrical Engineer: CA du Toit & Partners Quantity Surveyor: Mathews & Associates Quantity Surveyors Contractor: Tundwe Construction Acoustic Engineer: Dr. Ben van Zyl Artist: Strijdom van der Merwe