The small kindergarten Emanuel Day Care is situated in the township Orange Farm on the southern outskirts of Johannesburg. In a corrugated iron shack 50 children up to the age of 6 were taken care of in a very confined space. On the suggestion of the Department of Social Development of Johannesburg the Austrian NGO Sarch in cooperation with the South African NGO Education Africa initiated the rebuilding of the kindergarten Emanuel Day Care on the existing site.
A team of 19 students of Vienna University of Technology developed and constructed the new building for the kindergarten, which provides separated spaces for babies and preschool kids, a kitchen, an office and sanitary facilities. A big roof-structure covers and connects all these functions and makes up sheltered areas in between. To foster the kids` spatial experience the students introduced climbing walls, stairs and slides to make different levels of the building accessible.
The construction site in Orange Farm – far away from the environment the students are used to, not only in geographical, but also in social terms – became their place of work and learning for six intense weeks.
Workshops at Vienna University of Technology
Since the year 2000, various projects have been implemented by students on a 1:1 scale as part of the design classes under the direction of Peter Fattinger at the Department of Housing and Design at the Vienna University of Technology: mobile kiosks, temporary accomodation for asylum seekers , accessible and usable installations in public urban space, community buildings in south african townships as well as rebuilding projects on the indonesian island Nias.
From the initial design sketch to the development of models and detailed drawings, and all the way to hands-on involvement in the entire construction process, teams of students work through all the stages of a realistic construction project themselves, with all the related responsibilities and consequences.
learming by doing
On the strength of such collective action, projects can be implemented in a very short period of intense work. Responsible and results-oriented work on an actual project, which fosters learning in a very immediate way, is a personal experience that will leave a lasting impression on the students involved.
The practical, applied use of the most diverse construction materials, their specific application and handling as well as the experience of the relevant production processes also play a key role in these projects.