3 December 2020

Vele Secondary School

Vele Secondary School is a rural school located in a mountainous region of the Vhembe District in Limpopo Province.

The design ethos for development of new facilities for Vele Secondary School was pursued on the basis of:

Transparency of Process
Innovation in Design and Construction
Environmental and Social Sustainability
Cultural and Community Expression
Access by Community to Selected Facilities/Amenities

Arising out of these concerns the project team engaged the community in a series of workshops and while the outcomes of these interactions may not have borne directly on all issues of design and decision making, they have fostered a positive relationship between ‘client’ and ‘project team’ which made way for more informative and casual discussions with learners, teachers and community members.

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The school was beneficially occupied in January 2011 and has a current enrolment of 22 educators and 460 learners between grades 8 and 12. The full schedule of accommodation comprises the following facilities:

  • 17 General Classrooms
  •  2 Science Labs with demo lab spaces, chemical & equipment stores and shared foyer
  • Computer Centre with 40 workstations
  • Library
  • Administration Centre with principal & deputy offices, sick bay, admin clerks offices & stores
  •  Staff Room with kitchen & veranda
  • 2 Teacher Work Rooms
  • 3 HoD Offices
  • Hall with kitchen, chair store, stage & change rooms
  • Ablutions: 10 boys’ toilets, 10 boys’ urinals, 15 girls’ toilets
  • 4 staff toilets
  • Tuck Shop
  • Stores (general, books, stationery, equipment, sports)
  • Caretaker & Security Rooms
  • Outdoor Dance Amphitheatre
  • Food Gardens with stores & work spaces
  • Sports Fields: 2 netball courts and 1 full size football field

A separately funded Educational Resource Centre has the following accommodation:

  • Computer Centre with 50 workstations
  •  2 Offices
  • Reception
  • Teacher Resource Library
  •  Internet Cafe
  • Primary School Library
  • Kitchen & Stores
  • Outdoor cooking and covered terrace
  •  Internet Cafe
  • Primary School Library
  • Kitchen & Stores
  • Outdoor cooking and covered terrace

The design layout flows from the following:

  • Optimal solar orientation with additional reference to prevailing winds and views.
  • The creation of positive activity spaces between buildings
  • That the school should function throughout the design and construction process and that the safety of learners over this period was critical.
  • That the original community-built structures would not form part of the ‘school facilities’ as outlined in the Schedule of Accommodation – ie all school facilities to be new.
  • That certain of the facilities such as Library, Computer Lab, some Classrooms, Multi-purpose Hall, Sports Fields – will be accessed by the general community.
  • The preservation of significant trees and natural rocky outcrops on the site.

Passive low energy design principles have been followed in the design of the school to provide optimal thermal comfort and light levels for learners and teachers as well as to achieve lower running costs in terms of heating, cooling and mechanical ventilation. By orientating the major window wall of learning spaces to within 10 degrees of north, control of solar gain and natural lighting within the classroom is achieved.

By positioning the chalk board on the opposite wall, learners typically sit with natural sunlight coming from behind them and cross shadows on their desks are less likely. Light shelves on the north windows reflect natural light up off the ceiling and deeper into the classroom. Effective insulation of roof, walls and foundations reduces heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter leading to higher levels of thermal comfort for learners. Efficient window design on both north and south walls assists and promotes natural cross ventilation of learning spaces

All rainwater from roofs and paved areas is harvested and stored in a 100,000 litre ‘tank farm’ for food gardening and a borehole provides potable water for drinking, cleansing and cooking. The toilets used a dry composting system which is maintained by the Department of Education.

A 6,4 kilowatt solar pv installation provides power for 100 computers at the school and an energy metering system monitors energy consumption and informs school management.

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