Located in Park Street, Hatfield, Pretoria this project offers affordable student accommodation, aimed for the NSFAS students, within close proximity to the University of Pretoria and the Hatfield Gautrain Station. The architects’ approach and design philosophy with student accommodation consist of a framework with a definite balance between social and academic spaces that focusses on the well-being of students through striking architecture.

Being situated in a context with an influx of buildings associated with student accommodation the building had to be unique and therefore focus was placed upon bringing colour to an urban environment.

Architectural brief

The brief of the architect was to design the footprint of this building as a reaction to the somewhat complicated site. Due to the Gautrain being adjacent to the building, the footprint was designed and precisely located in such a manner to react to the vast expropriated area of the Gautrain.


The concept of the floorplan is to find the perfect balance of importance between the accommodation and the social spaces. The two ‘wings’ are connected in such a way to define and articulate courtyard spaces and encourage students to experience and utilise these social spaces.

Furthermore, the originality of the building can be seen from any of the surrounding streets. The colourful sea of balconies, on both facades, brightens the harsh urban fabric of the surrounding context. These balconies not only serve as the face of the building but also offer a washing line space for students who could not necessarily afford laundry services.   

The important ‘element of youthfulness’ was one of the main drives when looking at the overall design of the building. Not only can this be experienced from the outside of the building but also within each social space and courtyard.

Why steel was used

The balconies were the most important design principle from the initial concept development of this building. The balconies were expected to consist of a material allowing a shiny, bright and colourful appearance. A wide range of design options were used in order to explore different materials and different construction details. This resulted in meaningless efforts due to a higher cost than budget allowance. The quantity surveyor suggested the balconies to be constructed of brick and plaster which would result in a more affordable option. It was at that point that the architects investigated laser cut mild steel that enabled the balconies to not only have the desired appearance but also fit within the presented budget. 

These boxes were designed and drawn as a flat surface laser cut panel cut from 2mm mild steel, bent and welded to the final design.

The balconies as steel component were carefully considered with regards to the design specifics, strength and as aesthetic component.  Therefore, the final decision was that the balconies were designed as a laser cut ‘folded’ box latching on to the concrete slabs provided, keeping exposed fixings to a minimum.

A sandbag test was carried out in order to ensure the strength of these balconies.

These steel boxes were fabricated off site and erected on site from the top level down. A base colour was applied as these boxes arrived on site and the final coat was only applied when the boxes were in place on the façade. This was done in order to ensure that 33 colours were applied correctly to 546 balconies.

How this project demonstrates the benefits of steel as a material

Steel can easily be classified as an extremely bold structural material and finish used to envelope vast floor areas. This project is a complete virtual presentation that steel can be used as an excellent aesthetic material especially applied in separate quantities. The only way the architects were able to accomplish the desired design was through the use of steel.

Not only was steel an important element on the exterior of the building it was also used as important design principle in the interior of the building. All sanitary fittings were custom designed in mild steel and supplied by KINK Design and all furniture were designed by KDS Architects and supplied by Dokter and Misses in mild steel and Birch Ply Wood. This provided steel ‘accessories’ for 552 units.

How the project team worked together

Due to the size of the project it was imperative that the entire project team was involved from the inception of the building. Communication between the entire professional team was important in order to ensure that the final design reflects what was intended at the concept phase of the building.


This project is a representation that steel is an extremely flexible material that enables all designers to express themselves freely, in this case from façade design elements to finer interior design. Although the primary mass of this building is constructed of a concrete framework the aesthetic key component was only possible through the use of steel. The steel boxes provided the identity of the building through enabling colour, shadows and overall articulation.

Project motivation editorials are provided by the project nominator. If any technical details, company names or product names are incorrect, please notify the SAISC so that the error can be corrected.

Physical address of the project
Street Address
1118 Park Street,
Hatfield, Pretoria,
Google Maps link https://goo.gl/maps/4ybvayzVjE9eLZPX6
Completion date of steelwork Safe to say with PC date as below
Completion date of full project Practical Completion date: 31 October 2019
Tonnage and steel profiles used 32.76 tonne; Laser cut flat sheet
Project Team Role Company
Nominator Krige Design Studio Architecs
Client/ Developer Eris Property Group & WBHO
Architect Krige Design Studio Architects
Structural Engineer Aurecon
Quantity Surveyor IBP Central Quantity Surveyors
Project Manager IBP Central Construction Project Managers
Main Contractor Rhodes
Steelwork Contractor LaserFab
Steel Erector Bailton Steel
Paintwork Contractor Pivot Group
Photographer, Photo competition Papercut Photography
Photographer, Drone footage 255 Architects

If you were a part of this project, and your company details are incorrect or missing – please notify the SAISC so that the error can be corrected.

CLADDING (If applicable)
Completion date of cladding November 2019
Cladding profile/ type used Prospan 762 and IBR Pro 686
Cladding area coverage 18 672 m²
Cladding tonnage 93.5 Tons