Soweto Careers Centre

Name Soweto Careers Centre
Client Anglo-American and de Beers Chairmains Fund
Location Baragwanath, Soweto
Status Built 1990

The careers centre was opened in the late 1980s, at a time of great change and optimism in South Africa.

The purpose of the city was to start preparing a new generation of young people to meet the challenges of the future. At that time there was no form of career counseling for Black school kids anywhere in South Africa.

The center was used not only by school children but also by their parents in order to better prepare them for the challenges faced by their children. This was particularly important since many of the parents had received almost no formal education.

The new center was built adjacent to a set of prefabricated site huts, which were in turn converted into offices for the center.

The language of the new buildings is clear and unambiguous and the form of detailing is didactic. This was important for the architect since he ran a construction careers week at the center and was able to use the buildings and their design to show potential entrants to the industry how buildings are designed, how they are constructed and why different materials are used to achieve different effects.

All the buildings were naturally ventilated and lit. The hall section was designed to encourage the flow of low level cool air, which would be circulated through the hall and removed through a roof cowl at the apex of the roof.

This process is very clear in the section and was used to great effect  to explain how buildings work to groups of young students, several of whom went on to study and become architects.

The exterior of the buildings, particularly with regard to the hall, reveals in the elevational treatment the use of different materials to not only satisfy different purposes but also to give a clear and unambiguous reading and understanding of the spatial strategy of the building.

This building was given an Award of Excellence in 1993 and also received the Ruth and Ralph Esrskine Prize for Architecture from the Nordic Association of Architects in 1995.