since 2014, saga — a french architecture collective — has been working with local residents in the suburbs of port elizabeth, south africa to implement a variety of different facilities. now, two years after completing a community hall for an informal settlement named joe slovo west, the design team has returned to the region to build the ‘silindokulhe preschool‘ as part of the development’s second phase.


the entire scheme is articulated around a shared playground
image © gorka biurrun (main image © joubert loots)

 

 

saga describes joe slovo west as a ‘permanent construction site’ that is developing quickly and constantly changing. in 1994, the government began a nationwide construction program called RDP that sought to replace the region’s self-built shacks with secure and stable accommodation. residents, some of which had waited a decade for their new property, are given a basic concrete unit that measures a total of 36 square meters.


the preschool forms part of the development’s second phase
image © joubert loots

 

 

within this context, local resident patricia piyani founded a local preschool and soup kitchen where she looks after the community’s children on a daily basis. as the school became more and more popular, the need for more permanent facilities increased. saga began by carrying out a study of the site, its resources, and its people. the project’s design was developed collectively and was constructed experimentally. ‘materials and objects collected from all over the city are assembled together, reused, distorted, to create a whole new story, based on a collective effort,’ says saga.


saga has been working with local residents to implement a variety of facilities
image © yasmina gonzalez

 

 

the resulting building wears its construction methods proudly, offering sweeping views of its surroundings from beneath an undulating corrugated roof. internally, three naturally ventilated classrooms are joined under the canopy by an office for patricia and the four teachers, while a canteen with a sliding door is located opposite. the entire scheme is articulated around a playground where children are encouraged to spend time together outdoors.


the building’s southern wall is made of papercrete
image © joubert loots


the entrance to the sheltered canteen
image © gorka biurrun


the canteen features a sliding door
image © joubert loots


inside one of the site’s three classrooms
image © collectif saga


joe slovo west is located in the suburbs of port elizabeth, south africa
image © joubert loots


the architects say the region is a ‘permanent construction site’ that is developing quickly
image © joubert loots

 

 

 

project info:

 

program: preschool for 100 children (1 to 6 years old), canteen, and sanitary facilities
net area: 220 sqm
owner: silindokuhle preschool (NPO) & patricia piyani (directrice)
architects: collectif saga & uncedo
team: anastasia rohaut, pierre y. guérin, sylvain guitard, simon galland, camille sablé, laure rihn, nicolas cazé, valentine bruzzone, lilia benbelaid, camille mérimèche, yannis frémont marinopoulos, pierre ciret, mélanie richer, david hoar, edward silumko
partners: région pays de la loire département loire atlantique ville de nantes, tavcor motor group, poise engineering, paterson road investment (PTY), clearwater plumbers, dynaform
material donation: howden donkin fans mpact, cannibal, algoa joinery, nelson mandela bay municipality, barloworld equipment, EPS
cost: 1,000,000 ZAR / €70,000
dates: june 2016 – april 2017

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