Situated in a severely poverty-stricken area, where social services, such as clinics and schools, have largely remained unavailable to citizens, the African School for Excellence (ASE) is one of the first township-based private schools. The school addresses the needs and challenges of African secondary school scholars by offering an education that prepares them for university entrance at the highest level. ASE Tsakane consists of 24 classrooms, a multipurpose hall, a reception and a staff room. It was built under a strictly limited budget (R2500/sq.m), utilising innovations typical of factory construction. Light weight and structural steel were used in the building's construction, resulting in a correspondence with the area's industrial vernacular.
The design is governed by the school's education model, designating spaces for self-study, partner-learning and instructional learning. It houses the capacity for six learning communities under a single roof, or alternatively, a vast 2000sq.m hall space for community members to rent on weekends. The roof form, the structural engineering of which proved to be highly challenging, was decided by a need to create a landmark and symbol of hope for the community of Tsakane.
The commission arose through Local Studio's contact with the client over several years, during which, numerous alternative construction methodologies were pitched. A design and build contract was eventually appointed to E4 Construction, who designated the design of the school to Local Studio. The project ran on a very tight construction timeline and experienced a change in structural engineer during the process. Had this not been the case, Local Studio believes that detailing choices would have been achieved more elegantly. Challenges of the project were specifically budget-related and numerous initial designs were cut from the contract. Fortunately, the flexible design of the building allows for modularity and the addition of complimentary elements, such as sound and thermal insulation, which have been added as budget became available.