Faced with limited prefabricated classrooms, harsh winds and temperatures, Botha’s Halte regional school fought an uphill battle to create a supportive learning environment. However, with generous funding from Bosjes Estate and a brief that demanded innovative environmental initiatives, we were able to design a welcoming and inspiring haven for learners.
Square One Landscape Architects completed an innovative School project in the agricultural area of Worcester in the Western Cape, South Africa.
In the short time since the project was completed, it has received wide acclaim for being a successful example of a playground that incorporates outdoor learning opportunities for learning about the natural environment & helping children engage with nature & the production of food.
The design of Botha’s Halte incorporates innovative water harvesting strategies as well as bespoke play items designed to engage children in creative and inclusive play.
The Botha’s Halte School project was established as a means to bring world-class learning and facilities to an under-resourced agricultural community in the Breede Valley winelands. The school incorporates the latest in technological innovation and environmental sustainability initiatives, to create an educational facility for young learners, where learning about the natural environment is integrated within the design of its outdoor spaces.
The entire project is developed with environmental resilience in mind. As the Western Cape is a water-scarce region and much of its economy is based on agriculture and the production of food crops, it was important that the design embrace forward-thinking strategies to resilient landscape design and allow opportunities for learning about biodiversity and the importance of the natural environment.
This was achieved by designing the outdoor environment to bring children in contact with nature in order for them to build an understanding from an early age about natural systems and how they function. A green roof planted with indigenous species which are resilient to the local conditions was designed, requiring less irrigation and contributing to the children’s knowledge of local biodiversity.
All on-site rainwater was captured and used for irrigating the landscaped areas of the design which incorporated water-sensitive species indigenous to the region.
A food garden was designed for the school as part of the school’s health and nutrition programme, allowing the children to learn about food production whilst ensuring their access to regular, healthy and organically grown meals.
An integrated outdoor play environment was created to cater for a range 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 architecture of the school while maximizing opportunities for play and exploration. Items were specifically developed to engage pupils in different physical activities and afford opportunities for both active and passive recreation.
Rope swings were designed without seats to increase physical coordination & strength whilst also encouraging more frequent use by more children. A pole forest allows students to improve balance and coordination, while a play embankment with climbing ropes allows children to improve their core strength.
The outcome of the project was a facility that enables children to learn practically about the environment, improve their social skills and physical health while teaching them about their communities involved in the productive landscape.
Botha’s Halte Primary School
Landscape architect: Square One Landscape Architects
Architect + Principal agent : Meyer&Associates
Landscape contractor: AfriLandscapes
Image Credits: Courtesy of Square One Landscape Architects