Extension to Lecture Facilities at Elsenburg Agricultural College

Client(s): PGWC: Department of Transport and Public Works
Date: 2005 - 2007
Area/Extent: Portion of Farm Elsenburg ‘A’ Number 34
Location:
Topic: Architecture
Partner(s): Design Studio Cape Town CC
Plan
Section
Pergola Court overlooking grassed terraces to the stream from the entrance
South Facade from grassed terrace at the stream.

The Project Challenge

The project is linked to the Government’s recognition of the importance of investing in agricultural training and facilities. The extension to the existing Lecture Building facility is intended to address potentials in the spatial planning of the Campus within its setting and consider conditions particular to the agricultural environment and that of the historic Farm.

Principles & Approach

The key conceptual ideas behind the design of the lecture building extension were:

  • The “Campus Avenue”:

The “College Avenue” can play a key role in establishing an imageable and vibrant pedestrian environment that can structure the long-term planning of the campus. The avenue in being prioritised as a pedestrianised space will link and orientate the existing key educational buildings and the historic ‘werf’ area to the east. The edge of the extension is proposed to be treed and provided, with informal seating so that students can gather in the morning sun prior to lectures.

  • The Elsenburg Farm Landscape:

The magnificent setting within the farming landscape holds key structuring and spatial opportunities. This is both in terms of organisation of the buildings within the landscape but also the nature of the architecture and how students and visitors can engage the environment.  It is proposed to use landscape elements and vegetation that is synonymous to the Cape. The building itself is set as a series of white walls into the embankment so as to maintain the view to the vineyards.

  • The Lecture Building as a Series of Linked Spaces:

In response to the topography of the site and the organisation of existing lecture facility the extension is organised along a route running parallel and entered off the ‘College Avenue’. This route links the various learning spaces and provides opportunities for various associated academic activities such as exhibitions; hosting of seminars and functions; and everyday, informal discussions and socialising of students.

  • Teaching Spaces:

The extension of the existing lecture building facility provides an additional auditorium and classrooms for both seminars and general tuition purposes that are of a standard to that of other current tertiary institutions. The design objective is to achieve the best possible arrangement of architectural elements and teaching facilities so as to optimise the ‘function’ of space, by clearly identifying all performance requirements for these needs.

  • Indoor-outdoor Space:

The open spaces between buildings were considered as spill out areas allowing visual connection to the farm and to provide for “green courts”. This focus area to the Facility along the circulation route establishes a link between the Avenue and a series of terraces. These platforms allow for informal learning activities, social and recreational space and provide a generosity to the building to adequately support public and campus functions.