Name: Delft Day Care Centres I and II
Client: City of Cape Town
Location: Delft, Cape Town
A set of spaces mediate between the street and the more private spaces of the centres in that they are part of the street system of Delft and at the same time are private, being located within the site sub-division. Lined with seats and partially roofed, they form part of the public spaces of the community. Anyone from the neighbourhood can utilise these spaces, although they belong to the centre.
Delft is part of the low-lying area adjacent to the sea. Known as the Cape Flats, the area lies in contrast to the varied and imposing mountain ranges beyond. Since landscape is a powerful presence in Cape Town, the design seeks to connect buildings, landscape and city together in new ways. The division of the landscape into flat, low-lying areas and distant mountain ranges is mimicked in the design. Wall surfaces are plastered to a height of 1.5 metres, forming a continuous horizontal line that wraps around the buildings at eye level. Above this the wall plane is bagged. The plastered surface is painted green or blue to represent land or sea while the bagged surface is coloured white in sharp contrast to the sky – similar to the silhouette of mountains against sky.
The need for resourcefulness – to achieve the maximum ends with minimum means – has shaped the work. Linked to resourcefulness is the notion of modesty – the meaning of which lies in its derivation from the Latin word modesto. Based on the concept that the value of completing a task is in direct proportion to the amount of energy expended, it is comparable to determining, within limited means, where to invest weight in design, in other words to decide where to be forceful and where to be retiring and modest. For example, the entrance has been articulated with bull-nose tilling, used unconventionally, to define the entrance threshold, while elsewhere, construction detail is conventional.
A SPECIAL LANGUAGE
Each centre is identified by a brightly painted pylon – bearing a symbolic mark within the community and drawing people through its verticality. The pylon extends horizontally into a seat which is adjacent to the entrance path. The tension is deliberate and reflects back upon notions of landscape that have informed the design of the buildings. The entrance is marked by a shade cloth pergola, defining a safe place to protect children, while also serving as an after-school waiting area. Consequently, it has become the most architecturally elaborate aspect of the centre. The centres are painted in different colours – in both cases the importance of the toy store is represented not only by its central location but also by bright red colouring. This creates continuity in a condition of difference.