Vulamasango Proposed Youth & Child Care Facility: Rezoning and Site Development Plan and Architectural Services

Vulamasango Proposed Youth & Child Care Facility: Rezoning and Site Development Plan and Architectural Services



Start Year



Cape Town


The Project Challenge

The site is located along Weltevreden Road and forms part of the Philippi Horticultural Area. Vulamasango (Open Gates) is a NPO who appointed NMA to accommodate an orphanage for AIDS orphans and abandoned children while simultaneously facilitating rehabilitation of the horticultural function of the farm. This parallel aim is to establish a qualitative place for children to be raised in a supportive family environment and secondly, to rehabilitate the agricultural land to sustain the development, to connect the children with a therapeutic and learning environment, as well as possible skill development provision for future employment of adult residents. 
The design of building typologies required to respond to the farming environment and the long term sustainable servicing of the site. The development comprises three components:  
  • An organic agricultural productive component;
  • A residential component to house orphans and vulnerable children; 
  • An administration component including office and support buildings for both the nursery and the orphanage.


The required facilities are accommodated in the following precincts:
  1. An Administration Precinct (approximately 3 240m²) which acts as the administrative heart and provides a public interface to the orphanage and agricultural activities. The precinct includes the existing hall, proposed administration offices, first aid offices, central kitchen and laundry facility and a volunteers’ building. 
  2. The Junior Precinct (approximately 980m²) which includes a house for children new to the facility, with two houses for babies and toddlers and a crèche to support the children of Vulamasango.
  3. The Family Clusters Precinct (approximately 2 370m²) consisting of 9 typical family houses, in which older children of varying ages live with the house parents. 
Phase 1 has been undertaken which includes the first cluster of homes, the administrative offices and crèche.

Principles and Approach

Vulamasango’s philosophy is to integrate a people - centred approach with practical education and community and cultural identity. These are important values considered in the approach to the site layout, building typologies and detail development of buildings and landscaping. The architectural approach is to establish:
  • The sense of shared community: The precincts are established as a set of buildings around a centralized court and borrow from the notion of the ‘werf’ with references to local vernacular built form and elements. A sense of unity is achieved by the relationship of each building to the courts, edged by generous covered walkways. These spaces accommodate general play, gathering and peripheral spaces for discussion and informal breaks. The more public court at the administration precinct can absorb the pageant of dance gatherings and celebrations as well as creating sheltered spaces as release areas for communal and recreation activities. 
  • Social spaces: The courts are framed by covered walkways which identify entry to buildings and orientate activity to these focal soft landscaped spaces. The court edges provide shelter, shade and seating areas to allow for informal socializing as an extension to the indoor living areas. 
  • Identity of spaces and homes: The different precincts have a common architectural language but with different identities, scale and grades of public and private and work areas.
  • Security and surveillance: In clustering buildings, each precinct has surveillance over the sheltered courts. Openings within perimeter built edges are securitised by robust fixed screens for reasons of privacy and security and form part of the aesthetics.
  • Sustainability: Provision of sustainable services includes the provision of rainwater collection; black and grey water treatment for irrigation; heat pumps for hot water supply and provision of solar PV panels to augment the electrical supply from Eskom.