Funded by the Cotton On Foundation from Australia, St. Bernard’s Secondary School’s new Multipurpose Hall is a combined assembly and dining hall providing room for 650 students. On a footprint of 680m² it accommodates a covered auditorium including a simple stage, and a school kitchen with associated servery, dish collection, stores and manager’s office.
Three curved steps create an amphitheatre embedded into the gentle slope of the site, both suitable for stage performances and more communal uses in which everyone relates to everyone. With a depth of 2.7m the bench-height steps are also wide enough to accommodate dining tables and benches, arranged perpendicularly to the step edges.
A potpourri of locally available materials are stacked up in layers to clad the tilted reinforced concrete columns. Hovering above is a 21m spanning steel roof; with its wedge-shaped roof planes installed at two different angles, natural daylight ingresses through narrow triangular strips of vertical translucent roofing sheets creating a playful composition of sunlight. To improve acoustics and as an affordable way of softening the industrial nature of the metallic roof, baffles made of locally available hemp fabric were suspended from the roof.
The Multipurpose Hall at St. Bernard's Senior Secondary School in Mannya, Rakai received the 'Best Building of the Year 2016' award by the Uganda Society of Architects.