High School (former National High School Almirante Lopes Alves/ School of 3rd level Comandant Saydi Mingas)
Lobito [Lubito, Olupitu], Benguela, Angola
Equipment and Infrastructures
During the 60s, following the extinction of the Colonial Urbanization Office (GUC) and the consequent and progressive autonomy of overseas institutions for the metropolis, a new phase in the development and construction of public works in Angola occurs A formal expression and structural design based on freedom of Modern Movement architecture are recreated to answer to the culture and tropical climate, which can be exemplified by the School of Lobito, and the Lyceum of Sumbe (Novo Redondo) both designed by Francisco Castro Rodrigues (1920 -2015).
Designed by Francisco Castro Rodrigues in the early 60s, and opened in 1967, the Commander Saydi Mingas High School (1960-1967), (former National High School Almirante Lopes Alves), located in Lobito in one of the plots of Compão neighborhood next to railway terminal between the railway line and Sá da Bandeira Avenue.
The initial plan envisaged a school infrastructure constructed in a phased method and consisted of 14 buildings (blocks of classrooms, amphitheater for music and choral singing, rectory and administration, two gyms, library, housing for the dean and a ballroom) and only the 1st phase has been developed and built: 2 classroom blocks, the rectory and administration building and one of the gyms.
The administrative building is a box volume with 2 floors situated at the entrance, next to Sá da Bandeira Avenue, which houses the rectory and the secretariat. The main facade is partially coated with a modular grid of concrete, where the entrance is marked by a slab. The volume combines plans lined with brick, openings, protruding balconies and brise soleil on the West facade. The gym, deployed to the northeast and away from the set, is a portico structure in concrete, open but enclosed by a coated brick wall, where are located the spas. The coverage in fiber cement is marked by the rhythm of the beams whose design contains the drainage of rainwater gutters.
The blocks containing classrooms are two long volumes of 3 floors arranged in parallel and mismatched between each other. The Northwest block, less extensive, with 60 meters long, corresponds to the 1st grade, while the block to the south, with approximately 100m in length corresponds to the 2nd and 3rd grades. The 2nd and 3rd grades block is deployed closer to the Sá da Bandeira Avenue, and both are positioned in the northwest-southeast direction thus promoting cross ventilation, and the reception from the prevailing winds in the southwest façade. Both feature an empty ground floor on pillars originating recreational areas in shade and airy atmosphere, in both the classrooms are organized according to a modular structure of 6 classrooms in the block for the 1st grade, and 8 classrooms on the 2nd and 3rd grades block, being located on the southwest façade, where ventilation is ensured by concrete grids, together with frames with adjustable slats of glass (beta-windows) for air flow control.
The horizontal circulation galleries are covered outdoor spaces exposed to Northeast. On the 1st grade classroom block the vertical circulation core is internal to the total volume, breaking, together with the toilets area, the modular sequence of classrooms. In the 2nd and 3rd classroom block the vertical circulation is also composed of an inner volume, and also by two vertical volumes of protruding stairs that break the continuity of the gallery. On the ground floor there are two open amphitheaters on patios confined by walls built through concrete grids.
The response to climate conditions is made using the lexicon of modern, translated in concrete grids, the suspension of the blocks lifted on pillars releasing the ground space, in the concrete structure, which contribute to promoting permanent cross ventilation, shading and the protection of tropical rain, and the affirmation of Commander Saydi Mingas High School as a work of reference of the modern heritage built in Africa.
The High School is up with maintenance needs and conservation of buildings, public spaces and playgrounds.
Original by Ana Magalhães
Adaptation by Ana Tostões e Daniela Arnaut.