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Library spaces that transform development

Project Type - Library

Client - Afrika Tikkun

Architect/Project Manager - Hoven

Quantity Surveyors - 

Contractor -  

Joinery - Krafted

Year - Completed 2021

Location - Mfuleni, Cape Town

Project Size  <500 m²

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We were tasked to design and refurbish an existing small library for a Non-Profit called Afrika Tikkun.  The brief was to simply replace the carpet and paint the walls.  We challenged this by using the little resources available to reimagine the library as a sanctuary for learners across all age groups within a space that is relevant to the digital age.  This process quickly evolved into refreshing five libraries across their five centres.  Afrika Tikkun’s mission is to develop young people from cradle to career and their five locations throughout the country help to support learners in typically vulnerable areas.


Located in township suburbs, the new library projects were designed to transform learning and development in underprivileged township communities.


An engaging participation workshop was held with learners to identify opportunities in the project design, and to familiarise the team with the site context. As part of our design process, and in order to develop common ground, we started with a learner participation workshop within the existing library to establish a space for dialogue using the content and outcomes of the workshop as a catalyst for continued learning.  Since the libraries were small and resources were limited, we wanted to focus on two main design interventions – a hand drawn mural to form a bold feature connecting the library zones, and a floor pattern that could be adapted to suit other library locations based on the information we received from learners.

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Digital Commons


The notion of ‘the common’ in architecture implies space as a collective and non-exclusive resource with shared and equal benefits rather than individual or private ownership.  A digital commons talks to the process of knowledge gathering, capturing, archiving and sharing across a digital platform.  Equal access to content is critical in order to establish engagement and continued learning.

Contained in the interactive mural, the content of the ‘nature wall’ was to be determined by the natural landscape in and around the library.  QR codes embedded in the mural enhance the immersive and digital learning experience.  Using Ipads, learners can engage with the wall using an AR app that brings to life the local plant and animal diversity as well as books, music and other themes that emerged from the workshop. 


The content that learners engage with via the app can be refreshed every few months to demonstrate seasonal diversity and the shifts in nature over time.

Each of the engagement workshops collected stories and experiences - prompting themes around; Food, landscape, language, culture and icons

- Nisha van der Hoven, Architect
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