Mental Hospital & School

Cape Town


A mental hospital precinct requires a school for training and education in craft work, social skills and computer literacy. The school is designed to accommodate mentally challenged pupils from ages 16 to 19 years.

The project starts off as simple workshop areas for woodwork, needlework, music studies and art and grows in scale to include classrooms, a computer room, resource room and kitchen facilities for training and catering.

The new building is located in an area of many buildings, all designed in a similar style with face brick external walls and concrete tiled pitched roofs. Our challenge is to tie in with these rather ugly institutional buildings without the budget for the same roof and external wall finishes. We also aim to make a building (within a very tight budget) that has design features that make it memorable and enjoyable to work in.

Light needs to penetrate the width of the building and the central longitudinal passage that divides the classrooms from the workrooms. We work with simple roof lights in the passage and a roof design that lets light into the centre of the building to the workshop areas. Simple untreated timber roof structure is exposed in some areas to add texture to the ceilings and break the long passages and allow light in from the roof light that runs along the length of the roof.

We also work with colour keeping pastel blues and greens to one wall of each workshop and classroom and adding a red wall detail to the entrance area that ties in with red floor tile edgings. Simple vinyl floor tiles are arranged in loose patterns and colours to demarcate entrance and passage areas. The exterior wall colour needs to tie in with the surrounding buildings and the client finds money to allow us to do some simple clip on face brick panels that relate to the adjacent face brick buildings.

Site works include increasing parking facilities and including a netball court on the parking area, as well as, allowing for small planting areas, for simple painting and grass to soften the hard paving. Connecting paths between the new and adjacent building are also included with a covered drop off point for pupils and visitors, who arrive by bus.
ArchitectAmanda Katz Architects in association with Anesa + Barbosa Architects
ClientPublic Administration Western Cape – Social Services Department.
Building ContractorQuickcon Construction
Structural EngineerWML Consulting Engineers
Civil EngineerWML Consulting Engineers
Electrical EngineerWML Consulting Engineers
Quantity SurveyorPeter Key of Laatoe Key Kotze C.C.