The South East Football for Hope Centre in Ramotswa is one of 20 centres across Africa that were funded by Fifa as part of the 2010 World Cup legacy. The centre was designed and project managed by us for Architecture for Humanity. It was built for a local organisation, SEDYEA, that uses football to support young people in the fight against HIV/Aids. Alongside their football related activities, SEDYEA offers a variety of activities aimed at empowering young people, particularly young girls. Their homework club encourages teenagers to stay in education, while their catering program, supported by their own vegetable garden, raises funds for the centre while teaching key business and nutrition skills. SEDYEA’s theatre group performs plays tackling social issues at local primary schools.

During the design and construction phase, Elisa lived in Ramotswa and worked closely with the future users of the centre; the design is very much a result of this collaboration. Because SEDYEA’s imagination and potential for delivering programs greatly exceeded the limited project budget, maximising usable floor area was imperative. In order to achieve this, we provided generous covered outdoor areas. Our brief from SEDYEA was to deliver a building that was ‘simple but smart’.

Botswana’s south-eastern region has an extreme climate: summers are hot with short, heavy bursts of rain, winters are warm during the day but cold at night. The design aims to show how buildings can be adapted to the local climate by making a few key design decisions, while using local building practices and materials. Teaching spaces are orientated to face north-south, shade screens and roof overhangs minimise heat gain in the summer and maximise it in the winter, rooms have generous floor to ceiling heights and good cross ventilation. Locally made clay bricks are used alongside stone sourced from the site itself. Woven reed mats are used as a ceiling finish, the ceiling void is insulated using recycled paper. The usable floor area is increased by creating a covered and shaded outdoor seminar space that doubles as a stage and spectator seating during match days.

Many design aspects are directly translated from Tswana building traditions. For example, low stone walls designate outdoor living spaces and provide informal seating. These informal external spaces create a permeable threshold that invites young people to linger and get involved.

The building won a number of awards:

Autodesk Award for Sustainable Building 2012: Winner

Architecture for Humanity Annual Awards: Exterior Detail: Winner

Project of the Year: Finalist

Video of the construction of the South East Football for Hope Centre and the amazing dancing skills of the South East Youth Empowerment Associationg  - Ramotswa at Work and at Play