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Lebone II College - Boarding House
Phokeng, North West


2011Transvaal Institute of Architects Award of Merit
2012SAIA Award of Merit


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25°35'01.82" S 27°07'36.84" E Alt: 1295m

Architect's Notes

a boarding house that feels like home...

The boarding house is a simple shed-like form with screens on its northern and southern facades, which afford a cool micro-climate zone, avoiding radiating heat gain.
Originally conceptualized as clay tile screens on the North, for greater body mass, this was eliminated in a cost-cutting exercise.
The creepers on the Northern screen are evergreen.
The creepers on the Southern screen are deciduous and could include vegetable trailing plants such as beans, tomatoes and butternut.
The main form is pierced internally by 2 courtyards and a central lightwell; it has bedrooms for 44 children and 2 apartments for junior teachers, or young members of the surrounding community entrusted with close supervision of the boarding learners.

The identifier for each boarding house is the main staircase, at the entrance, proposed to be different in each case. The staircase cascades into the arrival space and offers an internal characteristic identifier to each boarding house.

The internal courtyards afford natural light and ventilation to the bathrooms, designed as small intimate spaces. They also act as ventilating chimneys to assist the cross ventilation in the relaxation areas.

An open-plan kitchen area acting as a divider between the quieter lounge area and the games lounge, is used occasionally by kids that stay in on weekends to do their own cooking. Also when the house has a get-together function, the refectory will deliver a formal meal to this satellite base. Normally meals are taken in the refectory.

The teachers’ apartments are like two book-ends on the first floor of the main building body. They allow independent access and maintain an easy connection to the boarders.
The various different bedrooms required were by necessity packed in a modular configuration on the Northeast side. On the ground floor the lounges are on the South side, and on the first floor the South is populated with the senior student rooms with views of the sports fields.

Award of Merit Citation

The boarding house reads as a simple structure from the outside, with creepers on the northern facade that soften the structures making them approachable, both physically and visually. The bold conical staircase at the main entrance orientates the visitor in this space, creating a visual and spatial landmark with which one can always identify.

The placement of internal courtyards along the length of the building allows both natural light and ventilation into the building, whilst making the courtyards themselves iconic, thereby reinforcing the idea of the spatial landmarks. The latter collectively make this an accessible light, fun and unregimented space within which children can grow, live and feel safe.

It is worth noting the logical and effective floor plan with its private and public spaces rationally laid out to ensure a conducive living environment that would complement and support after-class homework and recreation activities. The student densities within the boarding facilities seem to be in proportion to the floor area, with the buildings appearing not to be under or over populated. This is important to create socially sound environments that promote cohesion and camaraderie.

What is most commendable about the boarding houses is the overall quality of place. The dormitories are well-furnished with economically sound sleep-study-store bunkers each constituting self-partitioning bed-desk-cupboard units creating four separate sleeping areas per dormatory. The materials used serve to remind one of the school's primary objective, which is to be a well-equipped, aesthetically impressive living, learn and play environment to bring out the optimal best in its scholars. That the stay of the majority of the learners who are from homes less-equipped is one that is humbling yet empowering for the learners, giving them a sense of dignity and pride.

The photographs on this page were taken by Leon Krige

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.