Published 01 November 2019

Botha’s Halte Primary School

“An integrated outdoor play environment was created to cater for a variety of ages and capability levels, focusing on tactile and natural play.”

Botha’s Halte primary school is the brainchild of the Bosjes Trust, with much collaboration between the Bosjes Trust, the Department of Education in the Western Cape (WCED), Stellenbosch University’s SUNCEP programme and the Governing Body of the school, they have successfully created a space which is not just for the benefit of the learners of Botha’s Halte Primary, but for the greater community. At the start of 2017 construction of a new Information and Communications Technology (ICT) school building began at Botha Halte Primary, off the R43 near Botha Wine Cellar in Worcester, South Africa. This facility provides tuition in Mathematics and Afrikaans to primary school learners up to grade seven. Square One Landscape Architects were members of the professional team involved in the design of the projects, receiving an Honourable Mention for their input at the 2019 ILASA Awards of Excellence.

Botha's Halte 2

Botha’s Halte incorporated the latest in technological innovation and environmental sustainability initiatives, to create a world-class educational facility for young learners in the Breede Valley Region. The School is a privately funded public facility and the client’s brief included the creation of an innovative architectural design that would generate a stimulating and inspiring environment for learners, while showcasing the latest in environmental innovation and technology. The architectural design (Meyer&Associates) incorporated a number of environmental sustainability mechanisms, including energy savings through passive heating and cooling, energy-efficient lighting installations and monitoring systems, water harvesting and water treatment strategies and wind energy generation.

Size: 1200m²
Cost: +- R3 600 000
Location: Worcester, Bosjes Estate, Breede Valley, Western Cape

Landscape architectural interventions included the creation of extensive green roof systems, productive vegetable gardens and orchards, an indigenous water-wise and didactic planting palette, and a vegetation rehabilitation component.

Botha's Halte 7

Outdoor Play:

An integrated outdoor play environment was created to cater for a variety of ages and capability levels, focusing on tactile and natural play. Rockeries, sandpits and natural materials were incorporated to create an interactive environment to allow natural expression and learning through play. The play environment includes a variety of custom-designed components that complement the architectural design while providing a variety of opportunities for play and exploration.

A structure of heritage significance, the Anna Zaal, located at the site, was protected and retained and became central to the design integration. The Anna Zaal is framed by a forecourt area that incorporates a series of contextually appropriate low seating walls, stormwater swales, and rockeries to create a natural and educational play environment at the school’s entrance.

Initially, the envisioned scope for landscape architecture was restricted to the creation of a generic play environment, and the planting of vegetable gardens and green roofs. The landscape architects, Square One, were appointed in late 2017 for the completion of phase one, with phase two being recently completed.

The integration of the design with the historic ‘Anna Zaal’ necessitated earthworks and installations that created an embankment behind the classroom areas and to the south of the site. The new site conditions were embraced by exploring how play can be incorporated on slopes to enhance the physical and mental development of the school learners.

All play equipment and hard landscape materials and finishes were carefully designed and chosen by Square One Landscape architects to promote physical and cognitive development for children of various age groups through equipment manufactured by locally available and natural materials. Equipment was developed for easy and quick site installation to assist with time constraints. Various components are positioned throughout the play areas to allow children to develop upper and lower body muscles as well as social interaction between peers through play.

The site is characterized by harsh climatic conditions. Southeastern and northwestern winds and hot summers and wet winters had to be considered in tree positioning and placement in play areas, as well as the orientation and positioning of some, play equipment (for example the steel embankment slide). Extreme clay soil conditions were dealt with by carefully selecting tree and plant species and incorporating subsoil drains were needed to prevent soils from becoming water-saturated.

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The Landscape & Vegetable Gardens:

By incorporating the best practice principles to produce a resilient project, the landscape was designed to harvest, filter, and store all stormwater runoff in a retention basin for reuse as irrigation and to create microclimates and habitats throughout the polishing process. Planted roofs cover the building by means of removable fiberglass planters planted with a wide range of indigenous species promoting a sensory learning experience for scholars. A ramp leads through the green roof area to allow learners to access the roof and interact with the species on the roof in raised planters. The integration of the design with the historic ‘Anna Zaal’ necessitated earthworks and installations that created an embankment behind the classroom areas and to the south of the site. The new site conditions were embraced by exploring how play can be incorporated on slopes to enhance the physical and mental development of the school learners.

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