Engineering and design facility for Wynberg school

Feature brickwork is not yet complete around the whole of the new building.

Wynberg Boys’ High School pupils are in for a treat as they participate in classes in the school’s new-look engineering and design wing.

Despite the difficult financial times and coronavirus disruptions, the first two phases of the purpose-built three-storey building have been completed.

Headmaster Jan de Waal said the school was possibly the biggest supplier of engineering students for UCT and so it made sense to extend technical subjects offered at the school and retrofit existing space.

Headmaster Jan de Waal at the bridge that links the first floor of E Block to the upper level corridor alongside the Clegg Hall.

What was originally an under-utilised E block at the western corner of the campus on Herschel Walk has been transformed with curved brickwork and picture windows and will be a teaching space for technical topics and art.

The building is adjacent to the basketball courts and the John Baxter Amphitheatre. It was previously used as a canteen and staff quarters.

Architect Greg Scott said the brief related to making spaces conducive to the new engineering and design syllabus for the mainstream educational system.

“We needed to create classroom and workshop spaces that accommodated subjects like construction, electronics, automotive, art, amongst others,” said Mr Scott.

The top floor is home to the department of visual and creative arts
Teacher Stefan Potjieter and headmaster Jan de Waal in the lower floor theory classroom where architectural diagrams of the new building cover the walls.

“We then took it upon ourselves to make spaces that were unlike traditional classrooms and far more flexible and industrial in their feeling.”

As for the feature brickwork, Mr Scott said: “Having been at Wynberg Boys’ High School as a learner myself, the nondescript and dreary facebrick ‘architecture’ so reminiscent of mass produced school buildings was something that needed departing from. The intention was to ‘evolve’ the existing architecture into something new and, with that as a departure point, we decided that we wanted to showcase how the same elements – brick, concrete, plaster, aluminium – could be elevated to make dynamic, creative and innovative buildings and spaces.”

A workshop opens onto a courtyard where pupils can learn bricklaying and cement mixing.

The lower ground floor comprise theory classrooms where architectural diagrams of the new building cover the walls. Adjoining is a workshop opening onto a courtyard where pupils can learn bricklaying cement mixing and other messy construction methods.

Towards the end of last year, pupils made planter boxes in the lower courtyard.

The second floor has theory rooms where engineering subjects will be taught. There is also a drive-through ramp where future automotive engineering and electronics can be taught.

The top floor is home to the department of visual and creative arts and includes a large airy space that will be used to display artworks and for the creation of mixed-media installations.

Mr De Waal said funding for the R40m project had come in through cash and kind. The contractors would return in July to complete the final phase, he said, although that depended on the school raising the R3.5 million needed.

School governing body chairman Georgie Borgstrom said bricks for the feature brickwork could be bought through the school’s “fund a brick” drive.

The Western Cape Education Department has praised the school’s efforts.

“The technical subjects provide learners with access to a range of career opportunities across the spectrum,” said spokeswoman Millicent Merton. “Subject combinations with mathematics and physical sciences and engineering graphics and design offer endless career opportunities in the field of engineering. There is a need for structural engineers and therefore it is a career to be considered,”