MC Wieler Learning Centre

In early 2010, following the successful completion of the Edenglen Resource Centre in 2009, AOJ was approached, by the MAL Foundation, to design a world class facility for the MC Weiler Primary School which could be used as a blueprint for future facilities in South African schools.

AOJ was faced with the challenge of creating a generic design solution that would allow enough flexibility in the design for it to be used on various sites with differing conditions, while at the same time providing a fresh new alternative to the otherwise predominantly pragmatic norm of most South African school buildings.

For the design, AOJ identified various components that should make up a comprehensive resource centre. These included; a library space (for the housing of physical books as well as audio books) a study/classroom space, a multi-media centre, indoor and outdoor amphitheatre spaces (to facilitate group learning) and additional outside spaces where learners would be able to escape and read a book.

These components were then translated into spaces and refined to suit their program specific needs, further made exciting and stimulating for children, through the use of colour and shape.

The intention is that when looking at a site for a resource centre these components are put together, much like a chemical formula, based on a schools needs and the site specific conditions. The MC Weiler Primary School was to be the first adopter of such a formulaic approach.

The formula for the MC Weiler Resource Centre comprised the full suite of components, identified for a comprehensive resource centre, all positioned carefully around an existing open quad within the school to create two outdoor spaces; one a quieter more private courtyard and the other a more public one where the school could still hold assemblies, as they had done previously within the quad.

The MC Weiler Resource Centre was to be donor funded, but sadly, following a preliminary costing of the project, the MAL Foundation found that it was harder than they had originally anticipated to find donors who would be willing to make contributions of the amount required for the project. As a result AOJ proposed a smaller building, constructed from two shipping containers and christened the SEED library. This would temporarily house the need of a library for the school until the full resource centre could be built.

Although the full resource centre has not to date been built, following the building of the smaller SEED library, which has collected numerous local awards and an international one, the resource centre project has become the backbone of a larger initiative of the MAL Foundation, which has seen that several other AOJ designed libraries, called the Micro SEED libraries, erected at several government schools across South Africa. It is AOJ’s hope that this initiative will germinate even further throughout the country and that the original MC Weiler Resource Centre will eventually fruit to life.

MC Weiler Primary School, Alexandra