Albert Arendse Library
South Africa
Albert Arendse Library, Bridgeville Primary School, Athlone, Cape Town.
Bridgeville Primary School is a Government School situated in a sub-economic suburb of Cape Town serving the community of Bridgetown, Athlone. The school was built in 1960 during an era when facilities for the then marginalized, were meager and very basic. The school draws its learners from households where poverty, unemployment, various forms of abuse, violence and crime are rife. A new library for the school was already requested in 1995.It is an accepted fact that reading with understanding forms the foundation for growth in all school subjects. A school library will transform the lives of children, giving them access to new worlds, exploding their imaginations and ensuring them educational tools to take up their rightful place in society. The funds from WCED were finally received in February 2014.The design process started immediately thereafter. A specific location on the premises was identified as it is protected from 3 sides by existing buildings. The position allowed for the new library to be linked to the administration/entrance building .This means that the building could also be used as an aftercare facility with easy access for parents to collect their children. It is also very central to the while school and is easily accessible from all classrooms. The site is adjacent to sport fields with trees and will offer a visual link between the building and the sports fields. A famous quote from Nelson Mandela read:”Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” The brief was to design a library that would accommodate 40 learners at a time and house approximately 7000 books. The concept was to have a “floating roof” supported by a steel structure with “Lego” like coloured blocks underneath, connected to the roof with glass. The building takes on an open plan format which makes it very flexible and lends itself to multifunctional spaces e.g. The stage area can also be used as a counseling room. The one side of the building opens up into a courtyard. The idea is to create an outside reading area which is an extension of the inside. A giant outside chess board has been introduced. It has been found that playing chess 1) Improves concentration and memory 2) Enhances reading and maths skills 3) Fosters logic, critical thinking and creativity 4) Encourages and rewards hard work A total of 9 paint colours were used in the library. The idea was to create a vibrant, fun and stimulating environment for the children. A tender process was followed and a contractor was appointed. Construction started on 26 June 2014.The building work commenced smoothly and practical completion was reached on 2 February 2015.The library was officially opened on 12 June 2015 and named after the retiring principal,naming it the “Albert Arendse Library”

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