University of Namibia, Lecture Theatre Facility
Namibia Institute of Architects Commendation
The project has been realised in a contemporary idiom of institutional architecture. Robust local materials are employed and directly expressed simply and functionally. Buildings are sculptural so as to create external circulation and spaces that clearly have been appropriated by the students and are well used for this purpose. The swimming pool that has informed the planning has given rise to two oblong spaces, having both direct internal expression but elegantly articulated by the additional acoustical devices. The project has a residual impact on what the future campus might be. The panel of assessors confers the project with an Award of Commendation.
The University of Namibia has in recent years been experiencing an unprecedented and exponential growth in student numbers that requires a concerted and focused investment in teaching and learning infrastructure. This classroom project was one of the first such projects and was conceptualised as an infill development on the site of an old swimming pool, which was earmarked for demolition.
The two 350-seat lecture theatres were positioned inside the original pool in order to capitalise on the excavation and lower the costs associated with the raked floors. The basement pump room was converted to a study centre and a series of public outdoor spaces were created around the building that serve as lobby and holding spaces for students between classes. Expanded mesh screens were installed to create a shaded microclimate around the exterior and outside areas were landscaped with both hard and soft elements to create usable social spaces.
The choice of exterior finishes was guided by a desire to reduce the maintenance requirements thereof as much as possible, while at the same time creating a dialogue with the natural materials and colours of the surrounding veld. Cavity walls and a well-insulated envelope serve to meet both the thermal and acoustic insulation requirement.
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.