The Architectural concept required a continuous vertical regular screen element, suspended up to 3.5 metres from the external façade, about an irregular 3 storey building. Considering all options, galvanised expanded metal cladding was chosen, made up in the order of 2.1 meters by 1.2-metres panels fixed to a supporting peripheral framework.

Supporting frames, comprising braced tubular and hot rolled sections were fixed at convenient structural locations about the perimeter, to the columns and floors slabs, at up to 9.0-metre centres.

Sheeting rails comprising “T” sections fabricated from hot rolled H and I sections, span between the frames, with the mesh angle edged panels connected to the rails.  All sections were hot dipped galvanised and connections site bolted.

All steel elements being viewed from within the building were carefully detailed to achieve an aesthetic industrial appearance of featured steelwork sections.

it is considered that the design and detailing efforts, in conjunction with the input from the fabricator and erector, under the Architect’s directive, achieved a unique and noteworthy building steel cladding system.


A few decades ago the construction of the new N3 freeway cut off and isolated the site from its residential context. With freeways on two sides and a suburban access road on the third, the site was now characterised by both second-to-none visibility from the main vehicular accesses into and out of the city, and the related 24/7 freeway noise.

Initially, a single storey free-standing house was built on the site. With the irreconcilable conflict between domesticity and the freeways, it took a few years for residential use to be abandoned. The house was demolished and a compact two-storey office building was constructed above one level of parking.

Although typologically a courtyard layout, the void was filled with meeting rooms, effectively reducing it to a fragmented light-well. The plan arrangement, exterior form and decoratively expressed structure were typical of post-modern geometric and iconographic complexity popular at the time.

In the site’s third iteration to accommodate a UNi4 Institute, our approach was to strip the building to its bare bones, first to enable the development of a  generous, acoustically protected interior patio around which all programmed education and support activities are arranged. And second to shade the building at the same time as radically transforming the exterior in response to the 120km/hr freeway context.

Full of natural light, covered but not enclosed, central to all movement, part garden and part ‘piazza’, the patio is the primary social setting for both incidental and planned interaction at the core of contemporary learning thinking and practice.

Both ground and first levels are conceived as verandahs opening into and overlooking the patio. Very few activities require visual and acoustic privacy. Apart from a raked auditorium, these are located in freestanding enclosures on the ‘verandah’ floors like objects on a terrain.

An industrial version of a trellised verandah, a primary purpose of the free-floating expanded-metal screen is, with one solution, to shade existing highly solar-exposed glazing on all orientations while retaining optimal internal light levels. At the same time, the screen transforms the undefined geometric complexity of the pre-existing external envelope into a smooth, blind, homogenous surface that mediates between the technological and the human, generating an imageable and memorable landmark at the confluence of the freeways. And between these two geometries, a range of open shaded perimeter office and student break-out terraces became possible as more privately accessible versions of the interior courtyard.

Although accommodating parking, the unbuilt area of the site will develop into an endemic sub-tropical landscape, the screen and vegetation together integrating the building and site into its accidental context.

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.

Completion date of steelwork July 2018
Completion date of full project July 2018
Tons of structural steel used Support Frames, 24 Tonnes
Structural profiles used Tubes/Hot Rolled Sections
SA content – if this is an export project 100%
Completion date of cladding July 2018
Cladding profile/ type used Mentis Expanded Metal – Ref 38
Cladding area/ coverage and tonnage 3 000 Sq Metres/16 Tonnes
Nominator Young + Satharia (Pty) Ltd
Client/ Developer Educor Property Holdings
Architect Design Workshop
Structural Engineer Young + Satharia (Pty) Ltd
Engineer – Civil Young + Satharia (Pty) Ltd
Main Contractor Linear Construction (Pty) Ltd
Steelwork Contractor STS Steel Projects
Cladding Manufacturer Danjay Fabrication
Cladding Supplier Andrew Mentis (Pty) Ltd Trading As Mentis Sales
Cladding Contractor STS Steel Projects
Corrosion Protection
Pinetown Galvanising

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.