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Award-winning university building incorporates Corobrik’s face brick for impactful effect

Designed to fit into the wider urban design framework of Sol Plaatje University in the Northern Cape, the newly-created School of Education’s Teaching Practice Building still manages to attract individual attention through its bold form that diminishes any fussy detail. The building’s architects, URBA Architects & Urban Designers, used Corobrik’s Bergendal Satin range for the solid brick design, earning themselves the SAIA (South African Institute of Architects) Regional Award for Architecture 2019.
“Corobrik is so proud to, once again, be a part of an award-winning architectural design that will serve the community for future generations,” explained Musa Shangase, Commercial Director at Corobrik. “We also have a long-standing relationship with government who prioritise quality products for the creation of structures such as these, enhancing the experience of users through superior aesthetics and comfort.”
Shangase said that Corobrik’s clay face brick range is ideal for the harsh climatic conditions of the Northern Cape, retaining the original colour and finish despite the elements: “The natural properties of the brick also allow for organic temperature regulation for maximum interior comfort, and noise attenuation for an environment conducive to studying. Plus, the finished product is truly captivating – as can be seen in this Teaching Practice building!”
The URBA Architects & Urban Designers team included Henri Comrie and Etienne Britz assisted by Xandrin Dirks and Lara Fisher. Other organisations involved in the construction of the building were AECOM, Aurecon, Royal Haskoning DHV, Civilsense Consulting, InSite Landscape Architects, LimCo QS and Qualicon Construction.
In describing the four-storey building’s design, the architects’ statement for the SAIA awards reads: “The building relies on solid (face) brick mass to mitigate the severe climatic conditions. In this specific building, which is orientated north-south, heat conditions are compounded by extensive east- and west facing facades that justify the thickening of walls.”
The honest design expression and uncluttered face brick envelope create a bold form with unfussy detailing and low-maintenance requirements, one of the attributes of Corobrik’s face bricks. The architects also made full use of the Northern Cape’s crisp light to enhance the face brick aesthetic, stating: “Light penetrates deeper and the etching of solid against void becomes more pronounced. Around sunrise and sunset, the moody Bergendal Satin face brick glows magnificently and with an effect that far exceeded our expectations.”
Although crafted in a solid mass, the spaces are moulded to provide natural airflow and light to enter the building, with the circulation spaces a continuation of the external circulation. There was also a clever use of space, with carved seating alcoves and balconies to reduce mono-functional lost space and create an inclusive environment.
Internally Corobrik’s stock bricks were mostly flush-jointed and painted white to either provide accents or to allow deflected natural light to penetrate deeper into the spaces. Yellow and light blue tones were used as further colour accents throughout.
Commenting on the decision to use Corobrik’s Bergendal Satin, Etienne Britz of URBA Architects & Urban Designers said the building fitted into the campus-wide urban design framework, developed and rigorously maintained by Ludwig Hansen.
“The face brick forms part of this framework with the exception of the all-concrete Library and Student Resources Centre by Designworkshop which is a focal point on the main square. The design of the steel shading screens on the western side of the Teaching Practice Building is not standard, however, we designed these shading screens in a language that suits the robust aesthetic of this specific building.”
The award was announced at the Corobrik-sponsored SAIA Regional Awards’ Ceremony held at Kopano Nokeng Conference Centre on 18 October 2019. The award winners will now be submitted for national adjudication to become eligible for a SAIA/Corobrik Award of Merit 2020 and a SAIA/Corobrik Award for Excellence 2020.
PICTURE CREDIT: David Southwood
CAPTION: Corobrik’s Bergendal Satin face bricks were used in the contextually-sensitive Sol Plaatje University School of Education, Teaching Practice building in Kimberley, Northern Cape. The building was designed by SAIA-regional award-winners, URBA Architects & Urban Designers.