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Woodmead School - HeronBridge College
Sandton, Gauteng

Rodney Wilfred Thomas (Rod) LLOYD: Architect

1992GIfA Award for Architecture
1993SAIA Award of Merit


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25°57''09.76" S 27°57''51.97" E

Woodmead School has been an ongoing commission starting in the 1977. It was the first fully multi-racial school in the country.

The first buildings, the Science block and Library were built between 1977-1980, by the school's own artisan staff. The buildings reflect an Aalto concept of hands-on crafts in building; rough stock brick and timber construction. The building of the Library took 27 months, literally as cash purchases of basic materials.

The Hall and precinct received a design award from the Gauteng Institute for Architects.

Emphasis on all buildings was for a built environment to be visually robust and 'memorable' to the pupils.


Woodmead was founded by Steyn Krige, and became the first fully multi-racial school in the country, located north of Sandton, on the Jukskei River. The school had to function and exist and build in the face of aggressive prejudice and government harassment. At a time when the Apartheid was most entrenched the ingenuity of the School Governors, a number of whom were "Banned" had to discover, or 'imply' loop-holes in the law to fend off closure. The Hall, a substantial presence in the landscape, was designed and built as a symbolic act of intent to survive. As both Architect and a governor this lent a heroic quality to architecture.

Until the 1990's, essential additional financing, through corporate donations was restrained. But the school increasingly became an opportunity for: a. American companies to comply with US legislation, (Sullivan Code), b: the school became one of the very few outlets for local firms and semi-state companies, (mainly Eskom), to educate young, otherwise deprived black children. The largest donor was the Netherlands government. In 1994, without explanations, all the major donors terminated funding, leaving the school increasingly vulnerable. The school was sold and is now HeronBridge College.

(Rod Lloyd)

These notes were last edited on 2022 07 25

Writings about this entry

Lipman, Alan. ?. Woodmead. The Sunday Independent
Chipkin, Clive M. 2008. Johannesburg Transition - Architecture & Society 1950 - 2000. Johannesburg: STE Publishers. pg 212-213
Images Publishing Group. 1991. Architects of South Africa (International profile series). Melbourne, Australia: Images Pub. Group. pg 64 ill