Double curving face brick wall in newly-constructed Constantia school hall is a first for South Africa

Double curving face brick wall in newly-constructed Constantia school hall is a first for South Africa

Corobrik’s Cape Blend Travertine face brick has been used to build the Constantia Waldorf School’s dance and primary school hall, designed with undulating brick lines and meandering surfaces.

The elegant creation of the Constantia Waldorf School’s dance and primary school hall illustrates the diverse nature of Corobrik’s clay face brick – where a simple solid building block can be artfully constructed into a seemingly flowing structure, cleverly mirroring form with function and mood, says Christie van Niekerk, Corobrik’s Western Cape manager.

“For the development of this hall 60 000 Cape Blend Travertine were selected for a seamless transition with the surrounding buildings, as well to soften the overall feeling of the structure. This gentle appearance was further enhanced by the use of white cement in between bricks.”

“The clever use of clay face brick in this intricately designed school hall is a great visual representation of the versatility of brick,,” says van Niekerk.

“Aesthetically, it depicts the dance movement which the hall will be used for, but the choice of clay face brick goes even further than that. Acoustically, the noise insulation properties of clay will work with the building’s design to create a remarkable music venue, and the insulated foundations and sub-walls with the thermal insulation properties of the bricks will keep these young performers warm in the Cape winters and cool during summer.”

The 250m2 building took nine months to construct and was designed by Cape Town-based firm, Natural Architecture, with a view to create a school hall that eloquently expresses the Waldorf School’s ethos of nurturing creativity, individuality and originality.

“It was important that the dynamic forms of dance hall embody the same sense of movement as that of the dancers, like a flowing sculptural garment,” says architect Keith Struthers of Natural Architecture. “The undulating brick lines and meandering surfaces are ideal for expressing this sense of lively movement. The back wall, for example, changes from being a single curved surface into a doubly curved surface while the brick coursing gradually moves from horizontal to arching as the wall becomes more sculptural.”

He says the bricks are used in an unconventional way and are a first, leading to sculptural brick work never before seen in SA. The brick coursing consistently deviates from the horizontal, waving up and down and simultaneously off vertical in places to match the curving roof profiles and elsewhere to match the helix beam carrying the floating roof.

Here each brick course is in the pattern of a helix, allowing for the warping of surfaces in certain places, with single and double curves in other areas.

“This particular design required specific templates and unconventional bricklaying techniques to achieve this elevated level of brick craftsmanship. The twisting wooden door is, itself, a warped surface built into the plane of undulating walls,” says Struthers.

Every aspect of this intricate brickwork was generated from numerous 3D computer drawings with each inch of the hall carefully calculated. On-site workers had to meticulously cut hundreds of bricks individually – positioning the brick in place, marking it, cutting it and then building it in. This required accurate cutting of every brick, with some being feathered into wedge shapes to work around horizontal plinths or columns.

To complete the school hall, 16 000 of Corobrik’s Meadow pavers were used on the building’s exterior, breaking up the vertical proportion of the walls while adding a decorative line. This visually supports the eye, allowing identification of the flow of surfaces above and below the corbel. The pavers’ slightly deeper shade also added variation to the wall surfaces.

“The clay paving works really well against the face brick, enhancing the aesthetics while also bringing a number of associated benefits,” concluded van Niekerk. “The visual aspect will remain for years because of the colourfastness and there is improved safety for children walking along the pavement because of the skid-resistant quality, even in wet weather.”