LOURIERPARK COMMUNITY CENTRE
ROODT* ARCHITECTS has been commissioned to investigate and design a new community centre for Lourierpark, after due consultation with the local and interested public. In order to have a meaningful discussion with the local inhabitants, preliminary discussions were held with various people, and research was carried out to establish what precedents could be found elsewhere in South Africa.
The aim of this study and report is twofold:
1. To establish exactly what the needs of the local community are, and what the centre should comprise of.
2. To test the preliminary proposals against the budget that was provided.
The following design criteria are posited as starting points:
1. Sense of place: The local population should be able to identify with the physical spaces, and how these spaces relate to each other, to the street and to the larger community.
2. Integration into the community: The centre should be designed in such a way and provide facilities that will allow the centre to become part of the day-to-day activities of the community.
3. A functional social facility: The community centre should take into account and accommodate the various social activities of the community. The hall for example should be able to accommodate indoor sports activities, weddings and meetings, and as many other activities as is possible.
4. Future growth: Extending the centre to allow other facilities to become part of it should be borne in mind. The centre is also located next to a large vacant site, zoned for business purposes, and the centre should be able to interact with future a development such as this, so that the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.
Design precedents included: Bopitikelo Molatedi Community & Cultural Centre,
Leeufontein Community Centre and the Unobuntu Multi-purpose Centre, Worcester
A number of other similar facilities in South Africa have been studied, and in terms of accommodation, the following was revealed:
• Community hall
• Ablution facilities
• Craft shop/studios for artists
• Tyrefix / petrol depot
• Info centre
• Internet Café
• Homework container
• Children’s play area
• Small meeting rooms
• Courtyard, lapa, shaded waiting area
• Change rooms for sport
• Outside gathering space/sports field
• Memory wall (to contain ashes)
• Flat for caretaker
• Post boxes
• Nursery school
Not all these facilities could be included in the Lourierpark Community Centre, as some are not relevant, whilst other may not be feasible. In general, however, it should be endeavoured to allow the various spaces that are provided, to be used in a multi-functional way. The meeting rooms for instance should not be for the exclusive use of any one group, but rather should be put at the disposal of various social and cultural groups that may exist or come into existence in the suburb. The library for example could also be a place where children in the immediate vicinity could come and do their homework. An additional function that the centre might perform, would be to allow the local inhabitants to pay for services or make enquiries regarding services provided by the Local Authority.
PRELIMINARY DESIGN PROPOSAL
A preliminary design proposal has been prepared to allow the consultants to pro-actively discuss the development with the liaison committee of Lourierpark’s community. The design proposal, conceptually suggests that a number of functions are spaced around a courtyard. This courtyard offers protection from the elements, as well as to the exposure to the open landscape, especially to the west. The courtyard idea furthermore suggests a gathering place that would ideally also serve as an overflow area for large gatherings in the hall. Once the pergolas have been overgrown and trees have matured, the gathering space would offer an ideal meeting venue. The courtyard becomes also the waiting area to people who are conducting business with the various components of the project.
The proposed centre is positioned on the site so that future extension may be possible, and also so that it offers the most immediate and ready access to pedestrians. The proposal also takes into account a possible future development on the adjacent site.
The general components making up this proposal include the following:
• A clinic.
• Offices, that would also accommodate officials of the Local Authority to assist people with services.
• Meeting rooms.
• Community hall.
• General ablution facilities, including change rooms for the hall.
• Outside playing area for children.
• Landscaping with special emphasis to the planting of trees around the edges of the site so that the erf boundaries are visually strengthened, and also to render the area attractive to the local community.
Finishes that are envisaged, include brick paving, face-brick, combined with painted plaster finishes. Steel pergolas, as well as Zinkalume roof sheeting. Emphasis is placed on low cost, long life solutions that would not make the building appear institutional, but on the other hand will also ensure that maintenance is kept to a minimum. It is also strongly advised that an irrigation system for example is provided so that the green structure of the development does not become unsustainable.
The mayor should be lauded for providing a facility such as this. A community centre provides a centre for the creative and constructive outlet of the community’s efforts. It becomes a place of empowerment, personal growth and civic pride.