The University of Mpumalanga is one of the two new universities founded in South ­Africa since the ending of apartheid. It is ­located on the grounds of the former tech­nical high-school, somewhat outside Mbom­bela, in the moist and warm eastern region of the country. In summer the highest day-time temperatures are generally around 30 °C, in winter the thermometer can drop occasionally to below 5 °C. However, due to the town’s high altitude extreme heat is rare as is frost.

The existing buildings of the technical high-school dating from the 1980s were converted to serve as the university and new buildings, all in red brick, were designed by four South African architecture offices. The student residence by Cohen and Garson consists of six individual buildings that are accessed by a network of narrow lanes and ­external flights of steps. At the centre of the complex they expand to form a small public square that is shaded by trees. In each of the four corner buildings an open stairs leads to two nine-person residential communities per floor. The two central buildings accommodate ­communal and seminar rooms on the lower floors.