Diploma Høst 2020

The Gratton High School

Silje Charlotte Damhaug

The new Gratton school is in the town of Eshowe, in the province Kwa Zulu-Natal, on the east coast of South Africa. It was founded about 13 years ago on a disused agricultural show-ground. It has grown to 460 children from kindergarten through to grade 12, which is the final year. The school is run by the Norwegian founded organization “Zulufadder“, which assists disadvantaged children, recognizing their right to health, nutrition, and education. The wish is to build something new, modern, innovative, to be used to apply for funding. 

The school is organized around the oval central space, today used for sports, entertainment, and a natural gathering point. A school for 400 students equals a ground floor of 2000-2800 m2 according to the South African building code. I took the decision to work with a simple organization and to make it cost-effective. My wish was to create a school, where private and public spaces are gathered under one big sloping roof. 

Placed between the field and the forest, and tangentially to the oval, the school creates an open feeling with a view to the sugar fields and intimacy to the forest back. The principal section shows the relationship between the classrooms on the first floor and the administration on the second. With shifted floors the whole appears as a lower volume, creating interesting spaces underneath the second floor. 

The school is imagined as a fairly simple plan and an efficient structure. The construction is built by walls of concrete blocks, steel columns, and a wooden roof structure. The render shows the public space in the back, where there is the entrance to the classrooms. This will be the main circulation of the school, with concrete stairs up to the second floor. The assembly space connects the two sides, like a passage from the field to the forest. And as a natural meeting point for the students. 

On the second floor, there are multipurpose classrooms and the administration, organized in an open plan. The roof extends to the forest, taking it into the inner space. The roof is of sliver zinc sheets, falling very low over the wooden facade of the classrooms. The roof is like a big shelter, shading and covering the outside spaces of the school.