The Nokuthula Centre and Special School is a school for learners with special educational needs rendering services to learners with severe intellectual disabilities. The school caters for learners ranging from ages 3 to 18 years and represents the total spectrum of the South African community.
Constructed by Basil Read and designed by infrastructure solutions firm, TKDS, the new school caters for 560 pupils in a safe, secure setting, with face brick the material of choice.
The brief was to design a school for learners with special needs and which had to have boarding facilities for 80 learners. Furthermore, the school had to have suitable sporting facilities that would cater for learners with special needs. Fundamentally, the school was built to teach learners with such difficulties or barriers, some essential skills for them to be independent and participate socially, economically and otherwise in society.
Construction on the 10 301m² school began in February 2015 and was completed in October 2017. “The whole project was special as there was going to be a new prototype for these type of schools in the Gauteng Province,” notes Khulani Silwanyana, Company Director at TKDS.
As this was a public institution, the project had to provide low maintenance solutions. The design of the buildings was such that each space uses natural light and ventilation, while deep overhangs to all walkways help keep the harsh afternoon heat from the classroom spaces. As part of the project’s green initiatives, the school makes use of solar geysers and borehole facilities, as well as having its own solar farm on site. “The maintenance-free aspect of face brick made it an ideal material for this school,” says Musa Shangase, national commercial executive at Corobrik.
“The application of materials was extremely important as it had to cater for children with special needs. Sensory awareness, visual contrast, texture cost and maintenance were the main parameters.
The face brick ticked all the right boxes, especially with its low maintenance properties,” explains Silwanyana. “As 90% of the external wall façade is face brick, it is the most identifiable finish when you arrive at the school. In order to balance the face brick, we introduced other unique elements such as the aluminium structure at the administration main entrance, concrete aprons and stone cladding. We also used colour play with the face brick by using two different types of face bricks on each façade.” 560 000 Topaz Satin and 460 000 Roan Satin bricks were used in the project.