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Old School | True Sport

The historic 1907 school will become the high performance gym and overlook a landscaped courtyard.

There has, for some time now, been a sense in the village that something is afoot at Franschhoek High School. This is indeed the case and the Franschhoek Tatler is delighted to be able to officially share the inside story of Train Camp – Franschhoek.

Train Camp has partnered with Franschhoek High School to renovate, upgrade and transform the school campus into an elite training destination and recreational facility for athletes, visitors and the community of Franschhoek.  The vision is to create an international programme and training centre around key Olympic sports codes, and deliver a coaching, development and lifestyle experience that is world class.

Over the next few years, and for many years thereafter, the campus will play host to resident young athletes recruited locally and internationally and elite sports stars and teams on training camps.  The learners of Franschhoek High School will also reap the benefits of the coaching expertise and programme and occasionally train alongside some of the world’s top talent.

A Sustainable Future

The primary goal of the sports training centre and campus is to deliver champions and medallists for decades to come – and the sports tuition programmes have been meticulously developed and modelled to be sustainable into the future.  The facilities and broader environment will also be opened up to the community and tourists to Franschhoek, through a cost-effective membership programme that grants access to all the sports, recreation and hospitality facilities on campus – to train, or simply enjoy with their families.

Old School | True Sport

Train Camp was founded to create training environments for people at all levels of sport – from the weekend warriors to the global superstars – but also to give recognition to everyone in sport, most of whom may never be great or remembered.  The brand that has grown out of this inclusive spirit is one that rewards honest effort and hard work.  Its values are old fashioned, focusing on respect, accountability and good sportsmanship – and the athletes and coaches involved with the organisation are people who identify with those ideals.

This approach has influenced the interior design concepts and sports programmes – literally “old school” values and aesthetics at an old school – as well as the tone and style of Train Camp’s social media platforms.  The Instagram account (instagram.com/train.camp) is a great place to learn more about Train Camp and some of the people involved.

Olympic Inspiration

Train Camp has drawn inspiration from the modern Olympic Games, where the motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger” is set against the official creed coined by founder Baron de Coubertin – “The most important thing … is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”  These principles have motivated efforts to make the centre inclusive and accessible for everyone.

The history of the Games has also provided cues for concepts, interior design, building facades and environmental installations.  The best example perhaps is naming the sports accommodation centre “1936”, in honour of Jesse Owens’ dominance of the track as a man of colour at Hitler’s showcase event in Berlin.

Aquatics Centre

At the heart of the project is the Aquatics Centre, as Train Camp’s history began with swimming.  The idea and impetus for this development were sparked by discussions with Graham Hill, the national head coach for Swimming SA – the South African swimming federation.  Graham’s record in international competition is impressive, winning 162 medals to date – and when the facilities open he will be relocating his elite training squad to Franschhoek.

The goal for the Aquatics Centre is to create a national training centre for South African swimming, and a training destination for international teams and clubs.  To achieve that goal, the Centre will feature a heated 50m pool that is compliant with FINA training specifications and standards – and able to host training camps, regional events and water polo matches.  The existing 25m pool at the school is being refurbished and enclosed to create an indoor facility for warm-ups, winter training, and access by the public through Train Camp’s membership programme.

Academic Excellence

The standards and integrity of the education programme offered to athletes joining the sports programmes from around South Africa and abroad are critical to the success of the facilities and these young athletes’ prospects for the future.  Many months have been spent developing the sports programme-specific academic model, with a key criterion of delivery being the transfer of skills, expertise and resources to Franschhoek High School itself.

The goal is to invest in the academic environment and offering for learners at FHS, and bring it in line with the best schools in South Africa – without raising the fees for learners from the local community.  Supported by a three-year programme to repair and renovate the school’s academic facilities, this investment in education will return Franschhoek High School to the illustrious status it enjoyed a century ago.

A Historic Location

The heritage of Franschhoek High School, as the oldest remaining government school in South Africa, has been a key factor in the creative brief since the planning of the facilities began.  The existing infrastructure has history and context within the local community, and so Train Camp has elected to restore and repurpose historic buildings wherever possible.  To that end, the exterior facades of these buildings are being preserved and renovated within the bounds of practical daily use.  Internally, the services, planning and décor are being reconfigured to meet the needs of young athletes and students in the 21st century.

The boys’ hostel built in 1899 on the corner of Akademie St and Reservoir Rd is returning to its original role, and will house resident athletes in elite sports programmes and learners from Franschhoek High School.  The old school hall from 1907 is being converted into a performance gym – with facilities for athletes and residents of the town, as well as visiting tourists. The La Rochelle building that has served as the school’s hostel since the early 1980s is something of a local secret, designed by Revel Fox – one of South Africa’s most iconic and influential architects.  This building is registered with the DoCoMoMo Modernist architecture preservation organisation in the Netherlands – and has been repurposed to accommodate some of the national and international athletes and officials who will visit and train at the facilities.

The Creative Team

Maintaining the design integrity of buildings from different eras whilst creating a 21st century elite performance training centre is a challenging brief, and Paul van der Spuy has been brought in as Concept and Interior Designer for the project.

Paul is a national treasure – one of the country’s true fashion innovators since the ‘70s and ‘80s, and a 5-time SA Fashion Award winner.  As a concept designer, he has created stores that consistently redefined retail trends and raised the bar time and again.  His passion project – The House of Machines bike workshop, retail store and cocktail bar – has grown from its Cape Town roots to locations in Japan, China and the USA.

A Community Asset

Maintaining and expanding the campus’ place and role in the community is vitally important to Train Camp.  To strengthen the connection between the town of Franschhoek and the facilities, local businesses and expertise will be invited to participate, contribute and operate in partnership with the centre.

This involvement is not limited to sports- and performance-related practitioners and service providers.  The campus is envisaged as a sports and fitness lifestyle destination – welcoming the valley’s cyclists, trail runners and other lifestyle sports enthusiasts, and connecting all of this daily activity through Train Camp Franschhoek’s infrastructure.  Opportunities exist for operators to provide services and maintain equipment, offer advice and expertise to visitors, and use the campus facilities in their own activities. Requests for proposals will be published locally in due course.