Jürgen Almhofer-Amering, Janina Biskamp, Johannes Derntl, Rafael Hintersteiner, Urs Kaps, Corinna König, Katrharina Peball, Gerald Pilz, Patricia Porsch, Johannes Wolfsteiner
Prof. Roland Gnaiger, Richard Steger
Barbara Bacher (landscape design), Oskar Pankratz (building physics), Elias Rubin (earthworks)
SARCH - social sustainable architecture
The township Magagula Heights lies around 30 km to the south of Johannesburg and is one of the smallest and poorest of the townships in the surroundings of the metropolis.
Somewhat outside this township the Austrian NGO SARCH built up the Ithuba Skills College, a centre for the further education of young people designed and built by various European architecture faculties. This educational campus is augmented by the erection of a primary school for 6 to 13-year-old children.
SARCH commissioned a master plan for this school, which was created in 2010 in the framework of a semester project at the Kunstuniversität in Linz.
The aim was school buildings positioned so that it makes optimum use of solar energy, with individual
building parts that generate outdoor spaces of high quality, and an organism with an
IPHIKO means “wing”. It is the first construction phase of the ITHUBA Primary School and consists of two primary school classes, a kitchen, a workshop, toilets and a sheltered garden courtyard for the youngest of the schoolchildren. Large roofed
outdoor areas offer shelter against the heavy rainfall and intensive sunshine in this region and can be used for outdoor lessons and during school breaks.
Designed and built by students of the Kunstuniversität Linz, a main concern in this
building was to use construction methods appropriate to the climate, i.e.to build spaces whose climate can be regulated without the need for outside energy (heating and cooling).
The outside walls consist of a 30-cm-thick straw and earth mix that is rammed and condensed between formwork walls and, after it has dried out, rendered.
On account of negative experiences with regard to quality and origin of wood in South
Africa the roof in IPHIKO is carried by slender steel trusses that make economic use of
The trusses, which were welded by the students themselves, allow the roofs to project widely so that they protect the straw and earth elements from rainfall and give the complex a light, hovering appearance – like an IPHIKO or wing.
South Africa is an important producer of steel sections.
Large amounts of straw, grasses and earth are available in the extensive steppe landscape
of South Africa.
We are confident that this method of building will be further developed locally and thus allow the inhabitants to become less dependent on (questionable) western models.