An urban learning space that prioritises relationship building and connection to the outdoors for pre-school children up to Grade 12 students.
The Vertical School concept is activated perpendicularly, maximising precious city space and allowing students to experience a campus-type environment. Sports and extramural activities take place on shared, or public sports grounds located close to the schools proposed location in the Sandton Gate precinct, Johannesburg.

The 16 300sqm eleven storey school campus is conceptually driven by the following design principles,

The school classroom's future is hinged on the idea of the 'flipped classroom', where students work in groups, often educating each other and working with online learning tools. As a result, the need to create flexible classroom spaces are imperative. All classes are interconnected and separated by foldable doors, creating adaptable spaces. This flexibility is also applied to the multipurpose hall and all communal areas per floor, allowing for learning activities within every corner of the dynamic building.


Balancing the need for safety while still maintaining an aesthetic of freedom is managed in several ways. The school is placed on a central podium with a central admin block. Safe drop off points in the basement or via the street entrance all filter through the central admin block with access control. A large atrium punctures through the building pulling light into the basement levels and providing visual connectivity for all floors while creating a sense of scale and volume. Each floor can be reached by the feature circular ramp or the core and is entered via an accessed-controlled lobby per floor – ensuring a safe and controlled environment.

Relationship Building

With the rise of technology, schools need to provide students with the one element that home-schooling cannot – the opportunity to build relationships. This applies to friendship as well as for future opportunities, which often stem from school networks. As a result, the building has been designed with many pause-spaces in mind, allowing conversation and meeting opportunities. In addition, the pre-school, primary school, and high school share common facilities, respectively, which enables age-appropriate relationships to develop.

Connection to nature

The Sandton Gate precinct is one of the first GBCSA green-rated precincts in South Africa. The building is located on the site to overlook the Braamfontein Spruit, a natural green corridor within Johannesburg. The building's orientation and viewports have been developed to maximise the students' relationship to nature, and an urban park connecting the school with the Spruit forms part of the proposal. The ground floor is the heart of the building and boasts a large outdoor amphitheatre – with access to a state of the art multi-media centre, and access down to the auditorium below. This floor becomes an extension of the public urban park and creates an outdoor foyer that includes access to an auditorium that dips into the basement and provides a multi-functional gathering space.

Developers Abland Properties & Tiber Construction
Concept proposal 2019