Soweto community education campus set to open on Mandela Day 2016

The aim of the campus is to provide an education facility from which the community can benefit

SOWETO EDUCATION CAMPUS The aim of the campus is to provide an education facility from which the community can benefit

4th September 2015

By: Sashnee Moodley

Senior Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia


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The community of Devland, in Soweto, will have access to a modern, multipurpose learning centre by July next year, in commemoration of Mandela Day, as part of a community outreach project undertaken by nonprofit organisation Growing Up Africa.

The project is spearheaded by Growing Up Africa founder and CEO Deborah Terhune and enlists the sponsorship and pro bono assistance of various businesses, private-sector investors and architects. All building materials for the project have been sponsored.

The 7 000 m2 site for the Soweto community education campus will take up a block in Devland, on the corner of Jan de Necker drive and Process road. It is located near Freedom Primary School and many day care centres run by mothers in the community.

Terhune tells Engineering News that the aim of the campus is to provide an education facility from which the community can benefit.

Construction on the project began a year ago and its opening is set for July 18, on Mandela Day, next year.

The next phase of the project involves enlisting the services of a contractor to complete the concrete frame of the project.

Once completed, the 1 800 m2 learning centre will consist of five flexible spaces. This includes a cafeteria that seats 100 people. It will be connected to a kitchen that can be used as a vocational culinary classroom and to provide lunches for schools nearby.

A medium-sized auditorium will seat 56 people and can be divided into two areas for larger or smaller groups.

The building will also consist of two flexible classrooms, each housing 35 people, as well as a large auditorium seating about 216 people, which can be used for art performances or as a large meeting space.

New York architect William Reue became involved with Growing Up Africa and this particular project in 2012 and provided the design concept for the project pro bono.

He had previously taught in Zimbabwe and expressed his desire to work on other projects in Africa through the Soweto community education campus.

He tells Engineering News that community projects such as these have significant value as it informs the work of architects and has a transformative power in communities.

“There is tremendous value in becoming involved in humanitarian architecture and personally for [architects], as they want to magnify their reach as a designer,” says Reue.

“We believe that everyone – rich or poor – deserves the benefit of a good design. When we get a client that [wants] a custom home, they are going to get the best we have. There is no reason why those people in the community of Devland do not deserve that degree of thoughtful planning,” he adds.

Terhune says it was important to get buy-in from the community at the initial phase of the project.

At least 200 volunteers from the community cleared the site – previously a garbage dumpsite – and demonstrated their commitment to the project and community involvement.

She adds that it was an important interaction, as the approach to the community was that of collaboration and inclusion.

A consortium comprising the private and business sectors, government and community groups will manage the property.

The project will also be added to the City of Johannesburg’s property portfolio.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor



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