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29 Feb 2012

Leon Saven Design reveals proposals for a new school at the foot of Cape Town's Table Mountain

On the slopes of the majestic Table Mountain, overlooking the City bowl centre of Cape Town, stand the United Herzlia Schools. This campus, comprising junior, middle and high schools, occupies a large residential block of Highlands Estate. Two neighbouring houses, situated on the steep, tree lined avenue of Deer Park Drive in front of the school, became available for the school, now overdue, for a facility for their performing as well as visual arts and culture program.

Typical of this suburb, these two houses, built in the late 1940s with exposed, glazed face-brick exterior, combined with stucco walls and steep pitched clay tile roofs, were to be incorporated into the project. This directive which formed the basis for the brief from the school administrators, was given for two reasons; budget restrictions and to ensure that this new centre would maintain a presence and scale that would be familiar and sympathetic to the neighbourhood and it's community.

The challenge to create a suitable sense of place for this learning centre, while still honouring the neighbourhood, was achieved by nestling the new 350-seat auditorium between and over these two flanking forms. This soft organic form succeeds in collecting water within its large footprint for irrigation of the surrounding garden. The original face-brick wall treatment of the old houses was retained and combined with off shutter concrete walls, stucco as per the original houses and a new shingle tile roof which unifies the distinct composition of this new landmark building which is to become a beacon of cultural learning for it's community.

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