Designed by SALT Architects, a new extension to the Calling Academy (NPO) campus in the Western Cape offers multi-functional spaces that support high-quality learning, recreation and staff facilities. Nominated for Arch Daily’s Building of the Year 2023, a perforated concrete screen on the eastern facade blurs the boundaries between indoors and outdoors. 

Calling Academy Stellenbosch 

Calling Education is an NPO that was established out of identifying the need for affordable top-quality education as an imperative to South Africa’s restoration. Its first campus, rolling out its unique funding model, is Calling Academy Stellenbosch, which is located on a bucolic plot bordering Polkadraai Road between Stellenbosch and Kuils River. The site was identified and set aside by the previous generation of surrounding landowners to serve the local farming community, and consisted originally of six existing classrooms, a reception area and a sports field. 

Internal spaces overflow and create a variety of thresholds.

Thresholds between interior and exterior 

The institute’s distinct feature is the perforated concrete screen on the eastern facade, with two large openings that usher pupils into the school buildings. The use of concrete-block screen walls and extended roof overhangs allows internal spaces to overflow and create a variety of thresholds between interior and exterior, the users and nature. The floors step down with the natural slope of the terrain, creating the required variation in volumes while the roofs remain on the same level. 

The design of this campus was an ongoing organic process aimed at maximising the quality of the learning environment – connected to the natural beauty of the site, at the lowest possible cost, resonating with their priority of high-quality education over the cost of facilities. 

Creating space and function 

The project is an addition of a new section to the original farm school and consists of many flexible functions unified under a continuous tiled roof and applied to create a renewed image of the place without making any changes to the original school. The functions are a laboratory, staff room, staff offices and amenities, an additional classroom and a counselling room. 

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to for the information in this editorial. 

Project details
Arch Daily award category: Educational architecture.
Architects: SALT Architects.
Area: 760 m².
Photographs: Nudge Studio.
Location: Stellenbosch, South Africa.

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