Africa Centre 2002

Somkhele, KwaZulu-Natal (2002)

AFRICA CENTRE FOR HEALTH AND POPULATION STUDIES

This 2,700m2 campus of buildings provides the field offices for the Africa Centre, a health and population research initiative located in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Set on a south-facing slope, four research pods cluster around a cruciform space containing social functions. A 15 metre water tower acts as a thermal stack to assist natural ventilation and provides a central reference point around which circulation and communal activities are arranged. Its prominence makes a bold statement in the surrounding landscape. Within each pod, open plan offices are arranged around courtyards to offer maximum exposure to natural light and ventilation.

Concrete frame construction allowed the use of locally sourced blockwork, steel and glass panels. Eucalyptus poles, ubiquitous in the area, are used to support the main tower and roof and thatching laths are used for shading and balustrades. Storm water is collected in tanks or channelled into the adjacent wetland, greywater from low volume showers irrigates the gardens and sewerage is treated on site.

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