Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The academy is a girls-only boarding school that officially opened in January 2007 in Henley on Klip near Meyerton, south of Johannesburg, South Africa. The academy provides opportunities for academically gifted girls from impoverished backgrounds.

Themba was part of a team with architects Mashabane Rose commissioned to bring that dream to fruition. The site had previously been identified by the education department but presented significant engineering problems being underlain by dolomite and with the near surface materials being highly collapsible. Following careful investigation these issues were addressed by careful positioning of the buildings, strict adherence to a water management regime and pre-collapse by dynamic compaction of the in-situ materials.

The school itself comprises a variety of independent buildings each with unique structural features and challenges; the main theatre with its complex array of different levels, and expansive diaphragm masonry walls, the large clear span roof of the dining hall clad in heavy tiles and an intricate composite support system, the library with its beautiful exposed bolted timber trusses.