Finalist Proposal for First Public University in South Africa Since Apartheid

TC Design Architects have been announced as one of the four winners in a country-wide architectural competition to design the University of Mpumalanga in Nelspruit, the first public university in South Africa since the end of Apartheid. Of 147 architectural practices, the Department of Higher Education and Training has narrowed the pool of entries down to TC Design, Conco Bryan Architects, Cohen and Garson, and Gapp Architects & Urban Designers.

More on TC Design's proposal after the break…

Courtesy of TC Design Architects

TC Design's proposal envisions a 15,800 square meter campus consisting of a library, lecture halls, various retail locales, administration and student support spaces. A series of interlinking open spaces, ranging from public squares to private courtyards, increases the permeability of the campus whilst creating an identifiable hierarchy of spaces. 

Courtesy of TC Design Architects

The local culture, climate, agriculture and topography inspire the buildings' designs, using these as sources for materials, textures and colors. In response to the hot climate, a series of patterned screens shade against excessive solar gain while still granting views to the outside.  Each building type is assigned a different screen relating to the users and interior activities, thereby creating a diverse, yet controlled tectonic "language" that unites the identity of the university.

Courtesy of TC Design Architects

The local context is woven through the collection of academic spaces with the introduction of mini-orchards. By defining a series of precincts to break down the large scale of the university, each precinct is identified by the fruit it cultivates; citrus, avocado, mango, banana, pecan nut and the like, representing the agricultural production of the area. 

Courtesy of TC Design Architects

Learning happens organically, taking place in lecture halls as well as interstitial spaces in between buildings. "Various pockets of space link movement routes with pause spaces, providing for these chance meetings, as well as more informal study spaces," note the architects.

Courtesy of TC Design Architects

TC Design will now collaborate with the other three winners to design the university. 

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Cite: Jose Luis Gabriel Cruz. "Finalist Proposal for First Public University in South Africa Since Apartheid" 23 Dec 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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