The new Engineering 4.0 facility was established and beacons the collaborative effort between SANRAL, University of Pretoria and CSIR. The facility is prominently positioned on University of Pretoria grounds next to the N2 and N4 intersection.
The brief was to accommodate the SANRAL National Road materials Reference Laboratory, SANRAL Training laboratory, and Accelerated Pavement Testing facility, an Active traffic track and an upgraded Concrete research laboratory. Together with the laboratories, the brief required a foyer reception with social and collaborative teaching spaces. The facility was designed with future phases and a masterplan in mind, securing an expandable and adaptable facility to accommodate future Civil Engineering disciplines and related partnerships.

Structural Framing

The new Engineering 4.0 facility required a simplified structure to house a complex programme. The concrete and steel shell of the structure was used to create large expanses of open workspace. These spans allow the options for adaptable internal spaces to safeguard the ever-changing nature of technology and methods in the transportation engineering industry.
Steel columns were used on the ends of the elongated structure with appropriate cladding selections. The east of the facility is made up of steel columns and metal sheeting, which allows easy removal in the event of future expansion. This option was an essential to unlocking the expansion of the laboratory facility and together with the extension of the overhead crane. The 20m spanning overhead crane will continue along the entire length of the laboratories.

The dividing fire wall between the Concrete research facility and the SANRAL National Road materials Reference Laboratory is constructed from steel columns supporting 4x 7850x4800mm size concrete Tilt-up panels.

The foyer area of the facility is made up of a linear grid that intersects a radial grid, determined through a dense existing forest area. The H sections emphasise the rotation of each column along the radial walkway. I-beams were used as the horizontal elements create a continuity in the vertical and horizontal elements and the connections between the two. The H and I elements create a frame for a glass foyer which creates a tectonic environment with a relationship between the interior spaces and the surrounding environment. 

Impressive technical aspects

The project overall had several technical innovative elements.

The soil conditions of the site had its own challenges. Every column footing had to be over excavated by +-2,5m and filled with soil Crete to stabilise the soil.

The laboratory and storage walls and roofs are constructed with concrete Tilt-up system. This is a system where concrete panels are cast flat onsite and lift into positions with a crane. Position of stack casting and crane positions are all planned. The biggest wall panel onsite is an 11 350(h) x 7 490(w) x 150mm thick panel.

Specialised laser floor for the laboratory that was designed by a specialist sub-contractor with high tolerances and hardness. A 900mm thick “strong floor” with M30 x 100 long rebar couplers on a 500×500 grid is installed, with a detail to demonstrate the construction build-up as a teaching tool.

Water harvesting methods have been implemented. Rainwater catchment through roof areas and stormwater design assist in filling the retention pond. Irrigation water is stored in 3x 10 000l JoJo tanks, filled from the retention pond with a borehole top-up.

Solar PV panels have been earmarked to be installed soon, and at the start of the project, the areas had to be identified that the structural loads could we designed accordingly.

How does this project demonstrate the benefits of steel as a material?

Steel is often used as a tectonic element due to its slender appearance compared other structural materials. The project uses exposed structural steel elements in expressing architectural design lines and enhances the visual effect through using colour harmoniously with its adjacent materials and surroundings.

What is special/ unusual/ innovative/ aesthetic about the steelwork in this project?

The building as an educational facility was considered as a training and teaching product. The workmanship of this project was essential due to its visibility to public visitors, students and professionals in the field that would visit the facility and experience the building daily.

The aim was to deliver a “product”/project of good quality, that it can be used as a training and teaching tool. There are many instances where exposed structural elements and fixings were considered and made visible

How did the project team work together?

The architect and the consulting engineer worked on a regular basis in the design process of the project. The sub-contractor was responsible for connection detailing and the ideal would have been to have them onboard at an earlier stage to iron out minor detailing of connections. None the less, the team managed to work together in short period of time. Splicing details, cross bracing, column, and beam connections were all specially looked at.

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
University of Pretoria Private Bag x 20
Hatfield 0028
Google Maps link

Completion date of steelwork January 2020
Completion date of full project March 2020
Tonnage and steel profiles used 230 Tonnes – standard HR sections

Project Team Role Company
Nominator Central Welding Works
Client/ Developer University of Pretoria
Architect ARC Architects
Structural Engineer Aurecon
Engineer Aurecon
Quantity Surveyor Gro2 Consulting
Project Manager University of Pretoria
Main Contractor WBHO
Steelwork Contractor Central Welding Works
Steel Erector Central Welding Works
Cladding Manufacturer Global Roofing Solutions – A division of Consolidated Steel Industries (Pty) Ltd
Cladding Supplier Global Roofing Solutions – A division of Consolidated Steel Industries (Pty) Ltd
Cladding Contractor Global Roofing Solutions – A division of Consolidated Steel Industries (Pty) Ltd
Paintwork Contractor Dram Industrial Painters
Structural Steel Detailer KRU Detailing
Nomination Document Submission KRU Detailing

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.