University of the Free State, Department of Architecture
Henry PRETORIUS: Design Architect
Hein RAUBENHEIMER: Project Architect
Unfortunately we do not have photographs for this building.
Award of Merit citation
This building, originally constructed as an all-purpose, loose-fit and least-cost option for the Departments of Architecture, Quantity Surveying and Town Planning at the University of the Free State, was intended as a 'temporary' building. Many years and many alterations later, the building still houses the Departments of Architecture and Town Planning, while the growth in student numbers necessitated that the Department of Quantity Surveying be moved to a new building.
The original building with its general and generous structure and its equally functionalist section resulted in an utter utilitarian structure. However, its adaptability proved its worth and it became begrudgingly accepted and appreciated by countless generations of students and staff. It is within this generalist quality of the plan and section, where the opportunities for the latest round of changes and adaptations were found and realised. It was also these existing conditions that were mainly enhanced and amplified in the design by Henry PRETORIUS and Hein RAUBENHEIMER of TYPOLOGY ARCHITECTS.
The wide central passage on the first and main floor of the building has always played a crucial role in the academic and social life of the Department of Architecture. The latent visual and social interaction that the plan and section could facilitate was now made manifest and celebrated. Mezzanine floors were inserted, and the walkways created on these facilitated an increased possibility of social interaction, while emphasising the original height of the building that was previously hidden in the ceiling space. Vertical staircases were extended and movement through the section of the building was celebrated by means of colour accents. The central roof lights that previously existed were modified to make this source of light indirect and more of a 'mystery'. At the same time, services and environmental controls were improved, resulting in a much more acceptable internal climate and working conditions.
The entrance arrangements on the west facade have been rearranged and re-imagined. Roof overhangs, the partial lifting of the roof, sun screening and the general way in which the facade has been recreated, has resulted in an increased amelioration of the harsh western afternoon sun, as well as the creation of a more celebratory entrance to the building. In addition, the most positive result of these changes has been the fact that the building now makes a more positive contribution to the creation of an outside transitional and social space. This relationship created between inside and outside space sets a good example for the rest of the university's buildings, where physical insularity is generally the main operative condition.
Overall the changes to the building have been achieved in an economical and direct manner. The academic and social life enabled by the building has received a huge positive boost. Human dignity and the celebration of the daily operations of the Architecture Programme have been instilled and assured by the design interventions, without the negation of the possibilities of future changes and adaptations to the physical fabric of the building.
(Paul Kotze - 2014)
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