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Corobrik’s face bricks forms part of eye-catching Mcebisi Michael Msizi Public Library in the Eastern Cape

The South African government has prioritised education as part of the National Development Plan, and an integral part of learning process is access to information through dedicated spaces for learning. The construction of the Eastern Cape’s  Mcebisi Michael Msizi Public Library works towards this mandate, with the clever use of Corobrik’s Firelight Satin face bricks a mutually aesthetic and economically-sound choice.
Funded by the Eastern Cape’s provincial Department of Sports Recreation Arts and Culture and Public Works as implementing agent, the library was opened to the public this year. Musa Shangase, Commercial Director at Corobrik, said the long-standing partnership between Corobrik and government had resulted in many iconic buildings, such as this, which were enhancing the lives of South Africans everywhere.
“The Mcebisi Michael Msizi Public Library is another captivating example of what can be achieved when using quality products and an innovative design,” said Shangase. “This Eastern Cape community will benefit from the town’s first dedicated, modern library building which has been constructed to maximise on the natural temperature regulators while working into the surrounding aesthetic. The inclusion of Corobrik’s durable face brick range means that generations to come will get to enjoy full use of this facility.”
The library – which is a recipient of the SAIA-EC Regional Commendation - forms part of the municipal precinct of buildings situated along Keet Street, with dramatic views of the Langkloof Mountains. The building consists of two parts; the public library with accompanying administrative and service areas, and a small public conference component with ablutions. The library consists of children’s reading areas; study areas; breakaway rooms; reading spaces in an open-air courtyard; a dedicated area for online research and computers; and the conference room.
Debbie Wintermeyer, architect at The Workplace Agency, explained that the design of the Mcebisi Michael Msizi Public Library ensured the approximately 650m² building remained modest in scale and expression, while still maintaining integrity and status as an important municipal building.
“We wanted to create a community precinct for Mcebisi Michael Msizi with facilities located off an open foyer area, that was simple to use, multifunctional and crafted in response to the beautiful natural surroundings,” explained Wintermeyer. “We also incorporated a small courtyard and front arrival foyer into the plans as a way to increase usable spaces.”
She said that Corobrik’s Firelight Satin face bricks were used with flush joints tinted red, alongside Corobrik’s bullnose bricks: “We wanted to express the main library area as a brick building inside and out, with the smaller meeting room and bathrooms plastered. The Firelight Satin face brick was chosen for its consistent colour and shape and used with the red-tinted flush joints, gave a slick, sheer appearance on completion.”
The library’s interior main space was constructed in a variety of scales, ranging from the large face brick buttressed back wall and clerestory windows, to the low, intimate study nooks and children’s section in the north. The material palette was kept to a minimum, with expressed steel frame and the face bricks the primaries in the rugged framework.
“The Firelight Satin face brick was used inside and out the library, with minimal brick detailing in the form of roller-course lintels, bullnose brick coping at the top of walls and squint bricks at the window reveals. We are particularly proud of the face brick buttress wall with its clerestory lighting over the top and the buttresses with bookshelves in between.”
Adding a truly unique touch to the building’s design, The Trinity Session (a contemporary art production team) ran a public art programme whereby local schoolchildren were given the opportunity to express themselves artistically – the evidence of which can be seen on the building’s main entrance.
Caption:  The Mcebisi Michael Msizi Public Library in Kareedouw is this Eastern Cape community’s  first dedicated, modern library building which is a valuable resource to all residents.
Photo credit: David Dettman