Innovation and Resilience – Trademarks of Garden Cities’ Archway Foundation

Feature in Master Builders Western Cape Directory

When, 18 years ago, Garden Cities (NPC) (RF) established the Archway Foundation, its objective was to redress inequalities for learners in the Western Cape, where historic disparities still exist in the provision of facilities to many hundreds of under-resourced schools.

There has been progress, and through the efforts of the Archway, many of those schools have acquired some of the infrastructure that other more privileged schools consider their due.  

However, two of the most prominent needs still remain, the existence of a hall in the schoolyard, and science centers to supplement the classroom infrastructure.

Through the financial and practical efforts of the Archway Foundation, the shortfall in halls has been reduced by 118, with financial input from the Western Cape Education Department.  The presence of science centers has increased as the Archway collaborates with Advancing Knowledge NPC Director, Prof Shaheed Hartley. 

Benex building system introduced

The Archway is committed to delivering the halls as effectively and efficiently as possible.  Conventionally they have been built with clay brick and mortar, but more recently the Benex Building System has been used. The system employs a lightweight building block that enables faster building times.

Walls built using the Benex System are waterproof without having to be plastered, thus reducing costs and building time, particularly in the Western Cape where plastering is often delayed by rain in winter, and it takes time to dry for painting to commence. The system also has good insulation properties making for cooler buildings in summer and warmer in winter. So far, three Benex halls have been built.

The Benex material can be accurately cut with a saw and the waste from the cuttings is returned to the factory for recycling. The disposal of building waste is expensive, so this is a significant saving to the contractor.

Benex, an Agrément Certified product, comprises a modular interlocking building system, laid with a thin bed of mortar and the finished wall is indistinguishable from standard walls. 

Nearly one million schoolchildren in the Western Cape still don’t have a school hall and many of their teachers have largely taught in schools without a hall for their entire careers. All of them believe that a child’s completely rounded education cannot be achieved without access to their own school hall. 

Garden Cities has a long record of corporate responsibility both to the residents of its suburbs and the wider community. Education is one of the cornerstones of its vision and school sites are an important component of the suburban mix of facilities planned into its developments. The company also retains its interest in the welfare and progress of the suburbs it creates, assisting and participating in community initiatives.

Principals and teachers, children and their parents, and entire communities have benefited from the halls that have become the pride of every school where they have been built.  To date, more than 110 255 children have new Archway halls on their school grounds. They love the opportunities that the halls offer them.  Indoor sports, dance, theatrical productions and musical events have all become possible, along with the fundamental pleasures of school assemblies in the shelter of the hall that protects them against the cold, wet Cape winter and the searing summer heat.  The halls are used as exam venues and offer space for large-scale teaching programs.

Archway Halls linked to academic improvement, equal opportunity

Group CEO of Garden Cities, John Matthews says that from the beginning, an improvement had been noticed in the academic performance and morale of the children attending schools where Archway Halls have been built.  ‘Garden Cities’ objective is to help towards eventually, in this  way, to create more equal opportunities for all Western Cape schoolchildren,’ he says. 

The Archway Foundation welcomes the participation of other Cape companies in the funding of the halls.  ‘Education is the key to stability and financial security for everyone in South Africa, and as corporate citizens it’s our responsibility to help redress the inequalities of the past and give all the children we possibly can, the opportunity to reach their full potential,’ said Matthews. He can be contacted on (021) 558 7781