About This Project

Client : Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

Type : Institutional, Educational

Site : Missionvale Campus, Nelson Mandela Metrpole

Size : 6000 square meters (foot print)

Partners : Afriplan

This proposal was the result of a competition brief which called for a new Basic Education Department Programme on the NMMU Missionvale Campus and an elaboration of the new architectural components of the programme.

When the existing campus is viewed as a circuit board, where various movement and spatial patterns can be rationalized and re ordered, it provides the platform to consolidate both existing activities and the programme, while at the same time preparing the groundwork for a new intervention. Once these patterns have been re-arranged, various nodes can be established from where to provide growth for the new intervention, which takes on the auspices of planting a tree by establishing roots around these key points. The new BED Precinct itself is established around the public transport node and the Outreach Centre.

Once the area of the intervention has been established it may then be broken down into building blocks. These are the various components of the new programme and may be less compact and more relaxed, preferred campus spatial characteristics which require more generous public movement spaces.


By interpreting the existing desire lines of pedestrian movement through the campus based on the observations contained in the Urban Design Framework – specifically in terms of Common and Shared spaces such as Library, Conference Centre, Student Centre and Sports Centre – a distilled movement pattern / route may be generated. This ties into the new intervention with regards its positioning on campus. Such a pedestrian movement pattern also suggests certain nodes (such as turning direction ) which may be rationalized spatially and reinforced with small pavilion structures. This intervention, together with a rationalized pedestrian movement pattern, seeks to give both legibility to navigating through the existing campus and stitch (or solder) the new intervention into this framework. The nodes with pavilion structures are seen as hubs where the (pavilion) structures may provide such as seating, shade, bicycle lock up, Wireless network access points and static and dynamic information displays. These structures may be coded in a primary colour for legibility/display or be part of a larger signage framework. Over and above giving navigational legibility, it is envisaged these hubs will encourage informal student activity and access to information between classes, thereby promoting vibrancy.

The positioning of the new BED building is informed by reinterpreting the suggested footprint in the Urban Design Framework and by shifting two of the buildings away from each other in order to create a more dynamic ‘pin wheel’ entry to the campus as a whole and the BED precinct and mini precincts in particular.

The public square is seen as a ‘super’ public space, defined by the outreach facility and the BED building. Additional external spaces ranging from public to semi public are arranged and defined by the footprint of the BED building and main pedestrian route.

By locating the new BED building on a public square alongside a pedestrian entrance and movement pattern into campus, introducing a new programme as a gateway building and setting up the footprint of the new building, it provides the opportunity to set up a dynamic relationship between the various components of the new BED Building. The programme is grouped into three ‘mini precincts’ within the extents of the BED building. All classrooms and lecture halls are grouped together in the lecture hall building which is located to the east of the pedestrian spine and partially facing the public square. The library, resource centre, computer lab and study areas are grouped together in one building, with its length along the pedestrian spine. The conference facility and offices are grouped together with the building forming a partial edge of the public square. Although a more compact arrangement may be possible, the ‘mini precinct’ approach provides a dynamic relationship between the various components, stimulating movement and activity between various parts, which in turn, encourages a vibrant environment.

Each ‘mini precinct’ has its own public domain, which is articulated in high volumes with small slivers of light near columns, suggesting the filigree idea of being under the canopy of a tree. In addition, these spaces are envisaged as being articulated as internal landscapes, with dynamic and playful elements on ceilings and walls such as big bold colours and super graphics.


The stepped courtyard with platforms as envisaged by the Urban Design Framework is reinterpreted as a series of soft landscaped ‘external’ rooms, in this case set up so that classes may take place out of doors under the trees or on the stepped seats provided. This space is visible as one walks along the pedestrian route into campus or from the top of the campus, is accessible only from within the lecture hall building. In addition, a smaller intimate courtyard is set on the north face of the lecture hall building, which will serve the micro teaching labs and provide a more structured external teaching space.



Architecture, Institutional, Urban Design