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Project: New Engineering Building: University of Cape Town

Online since 30.01.2017 • Filed under Project • From Volume 5 - 2017
Project: New Engineering Building: University of Cape Town

In a time of changing education in South Africa the architectural updates to the engineering buildings at the University of Cape Town (UCT) signify a bold step towards upgrading and modernising the aging university facilities.

 

Designed by SAOTA, this innovative architectural design solution delivers a contemporary complex facility in an environment which is steeped in both history and tradition, as well as rapid transformation. The university is currently engaged in an extensive development and transformation programme, which given its size and rapid growth, demanded serious financial, special and implementation considerations.


The two buildings that were redesigned are the New Engineering Building (NEB) and adjacent Teaching and Learning Building (TLB) which are located on the south-western edge of UCT’s historic Upper Campus. Two of Cape Town’s prominent mountain peaks, Devil’s Peak and McClear’s Beacon, are prominent features towards the west, with the campus and city towards the east and False Bay towards the south.


Upper Campus building vocabulary and proportions underlie the architecture, but are reinterpreted and expressed in a more contemporary way. Inspired by the mountains behind, and the tectonic movement that created them, the external walls are expressed as heavy plates that delaminate towards the south. This opens the internal spaces towards the mountain views, allowing new connections to be made to the campus fabric and landscape. The prevalent UCT hipped, tiled roof is deconstructed and expressed as planes that float over the traditionally rendered walls.


The accommodation addresses the needs of office, teaching, lecturing and laboratory space, equipment and service space, as well as a dedicated level for advanced post-graduate research. Pedestrian linkages into the precinct are promoted by cascading steps along the south edge which flows into smaller landscaped terraces where students can relax or study between lectures. A new landscaped pathway along the western edge allows safe and easy access to the bus stops and the parking areas to the west. The primary student movement axis from the Chemical Engineering Building is continued through the precinct and links students to the southern parts of the campus.


Departments are arranged around this southernlit atrium and a prominent east-west break in the building which allows views to the mountain. The lower atrium and adjacent courtyard are activated by the Social Learning space on the entrance level that overlooks the activities in the new Civil Engineering Laboratories below. The exterior finishes include the obligatory university plaster and Italian clay roof tiles. The perforated aluminium screens introduce colour to the facades that relate to the ivy that is prevalent on the campus. Internally the expression of the architecture is softer and lighter. Curved off shutter concrete balustrades accentuate the atrium that enlarges towards the south-facing skylights.


Shading devices and high-performance glass limit solar heat gain and glare in the extensive east and west facades, while allowing maximum light into the spaces. Energy efficient light fittings, occupancy detection and light sensors further ensure efficiency in the lighting system.


Rainwater is collected and used for flushing the toilets while low-flow fittings and water-wise landscaping limit the use of potable water. Energy modelling and analysis show that the building will use approximately 40 to 50% less energy than a notional building designed in accordance with SANS 204.



PROJECT DETAILS

Project: New Engineering Building UCT

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Architects: SAOTA

Project team: Phillippe Fouché, Stefan Antoni and Michael Wentworth

Completion date: 2014

www.saota.com


SAOTA

T +27 (0)21 468 4400

E info@saota.com

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