Inspiration for Curro Holdings’ new 9 800m² campus for Curro Durbanville’s High School in Durbanville, just outside Cape Town, was acquired by benchmarking the best schools in Europe, Brazil and India, while several features were inspired by the Southern African continent.

“The new school building, which has the capacity to house 1 000 pupils and has room for further expansion, features elements that reduce the new high school’s energy footprint, such as a rainwater harvesting system,” Curro said.

The original Curro Durbanville, located about 5km from the new campus, was the first school in the group’s stable, with the new “mega” high school campus reflecting the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed company’s growth in recent years, and semi-grating trends.

Challenging convention and growth demand

The new campus challenges the conventional arrangement of space within a school, where the classroom is usually private, the hall and passages semi-private, and the playground the school’s public space.

“For example, an art classroom opens into an atrium that can be turned into a gallery or exhibitions area, which also shares space with a cafeteria. The cafeteria’s practical and workable kitchen will be used by the hospitality pupils, who will be taught in the consumer studies classroom – which also links to the cafeteria,” it said.

Photo credit: Burger Engelbrecht

“After 24 years, Curro has grown to become a mature and established brand. Yet our approach to education constantly evolves, keeping us at the forefront of educational developments,” said Riaan Stroebel, head of the high school at Curro Durbanville.

“In an effort to keep Curro Durbanville at the forefront of educational developments, we asked pupils and teachers what their vision of an ideal school was before approaching the architects, and then shared that feedback with the architect team. This approach has ensured that our pupils were truly at the centre of the new campus design.”

Architectural design and materiality

Architect Louis Khan once told his students: “If you are ever stuck for inspiration, ask your materials for advice”. 

This philosophy was considered throughout the design process, resulting in a rich and robust material palette with innovative applications. Patterned brickwork acts as a wayfinding method at entrances while contributing to the aesthetics of the building. The auditorium is clad in sheet metal, forming a central node at the main entrance.

Off-shutter concrete roofs link the programme components (auditorium, classroom spaces and hall). This finish is pulled through to the interiors and complemented with the warmth of natural wood elements. 

In its most recent trading update, Curro had 70 408 new learners enrolled for the 2022 academic year which is an increase of 6% on a like-for-like basis from 2021. This excludes the acquisition of HeronBridge College with an additional 1 169 learners.

Curro statistics:
Number of pupils: 70 408.
Number of campuses: 76.
Number of schools: 178.
Number of teachers: 3 651.
Pupil/teacher ratio: 18.
Number of employees: 6 245.

For more information, visit

bpas architects
Tel: +27 21 914 5960

Polyflor SA
Tel: +27 11 609 3500

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