This section is from the book "Modern Buildings, Their Planning, Construction And Equipment Vol6", by G. A. T. Middleton. Also available from Amazon: Modern Buildings.
[Contributed by H. S. East, A.R.I.B.A.)
Since the war, educational progress has been very rapid, and the Governments of the various colonies, together with the school authorities, have been equally zealous both in improving and enlarging existing school buildings and promoting new schemes. Consequently, in the last few years many excellent buildings of various types have already been erected, and a large number are either in course of erection or projected.
It is scarcely necessary in a work of this kind to explain or consider the educational systems in force in the various colonies, but a word or two is necessary to explain how the architectural portion of the work is carried on. In Cape Colony the school buildings are almost universally designed and supervised by architects appointed direct by the Committee or School Board of the district or districts. The plans thereof are submitted in sketch form to the Education and Public Works Departments of the colony, amended if necessary, and then provisionally approved. Working drawings and specifications are then prepared by the architects or architect, and again submitted for final approval.
In the Transvaal and Orange River Colony the plans for the various schools are prepared by the respective Government architects or under their instructions, and are tendered for and carried out under departmental supervision in the usual way. In the case, however, of the more important schools and higher educational buildings in all the colonies, competitions on the usual lines are generally instituted.
School planning generally in South Africa differs principally from the British types in two important particulars, namely, that artificial heating is rarely a necessity and consequently seldom provided for, and that efficient ventilation and protection from sun, wind, and dust are of primary importance, and require most careful thought and treatment.
A type of school very much favoured, especially in Cape Colony, is one planned on the quadrangular system (an example is given on a later page), in which the various classrooms, etc., are arranged round an open quadrangle, with a broad stoep or covered colonnaded verandah all round it, giving access to the various rooms.
In a climate where the rainfall is limited to perhaps thirty or forty school-days during the year the quadrangular system has many advantages, amongst which may be enumerated the following: -
(a) Natural cross ventilation to the various rooms, etc.
(b) Efficient observation of scholars by the teachers in charge.
(c) The provision of a space sheltered from wind and dust (a most necessary adjunct to a school in this climate), in which the stoep serves for a substitute for the covered playground of the British school.
(d) An excellent drilling and exercising ground. The quadrangular plan is considered most suitable for one-storeyed schools, with provision for from three to four hundred pupils, but there seems no reason why the principle should not be applied to two-storeyed schools accommodating double the number.
The school hall type is, however, not altogether discarded, many examples having been and still being erected. These vary little from the accepted type in use in other countries except in matters of detail.
In the Orange River Colony a somewhat novel arrangement is in general use, corridors and quadrangles being alike avoided, the various classrooms being connected by verandahs, and a separate cloakroom and lobby provided for each. The cloak-rooms are so arranged as to be under the direct supervision of the teacher in charge of the class.