Engineering Campus Renewal project well underway

At the Faculty of Engineering, the civil engineers are smiling. The reason is that the Engineering building complex resembles a construction site and they feel at home. In fact, it has been a construction site for quite some time and will remain one for several years to come.

The Department of Industrial Engineering is also smiling – albeit for a different reason. They are happy that the Department of Industrial Engineering has its own building at last after sharing a building with Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering for 34 years. Industrial Engineering moved into the former Information Technology building mid-2018 following an extensive renovation. The Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering is smiling as their building is being refurbished at the moment. And the remaining Engineering departments, Electrical and Electronic, Process and Civil (again) are smiling in anticipation as their buildings are next in line for renewal.

These renovations are all part of the larger Engineering Campus Renewal (ECR) project spanning from 2016 until 2026. It has become essential for the 50-year-old Engineering buildings to be renewed, modernised and densified in order to accommodate greater student and personnel numbers and to comply with modern safety standards.

“The environment of such an extensive building project is very complex. Our clients are knowledgeable and well-informed people as they are engineers themselves,” says Riaan du Preez. He is appointed as the ECR Programme Manager reporting to the Director: Project Management, Japie Engelbrecht, who is overall responsible for all projects on the Stellenbosch Campus.

“The SU Facilities Management Project Management Office (PMO) must facilitate high-level coordination between all parties and identify and manage all related project risks. Furthermore, I must ensure that the building contractor works within the rules and that academic and other activities can continue unhindered,” notes Mr Du Preez.

The contractor for the new Mechanical and Mechatronic (M&M) building is GVK-SIYA ZAMA. This contractor is currently also building the new Pavement Laboratory for the Department of Civil Engineering, as well as doing the construction phase for the Machine Laboratory for the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

After completion of the refurbishment, the new M&M building will have the following facilities:

Eastern side:

Level 1: A brand-new FIRGA (Faculty of Engineering computer use area) with 311 new seats/computers that will be accessible to students 24 hours a day.

Levels 2 and 3: The electronic classroom capacity of the Faculty will be extended greatly with two new electronic classrooms on level 2 containing 118 and 115 seats/computers respectively, and a third electronic classroom on level 3 with 243 seats/computers.

Western side:

Level 1 and 2: Remains the workshop area.

Level 3: A brand-new Mechatronic laboratory with space for 108 students.

The whole of levels 4 to 6 will house departmental offices for personnel and open-plan office space for postgraduate students.

Level 4: 17 Offices and open-plan spaces for 58 postgraduate students.

Level 5: 19 Offices, one large open-plan space, and the office of the Chair of the Department.

Level 6: 17 Offices, and open-plan space for 75 postgraduate students.

Mr Du Preez elaborates: “The front façade of the new M&M building will have an accessible shaft that will house the services such as central air-conditioning and data cables. Security in the new entrance lobby will be upgraded.

“Construction of the M&M building started in November 2018. FIRGA and the three electronic classrooms must be ready for commissioning in February 2020 when the first semester commences. The rest of the building must be ready for occupation at the start of the second semester of 2020.

“A renewal project cannot happen without disruption or pain. A great part of my work is to manage the disruption,” explains Mr Du Preez. “We have to vacate offices and move the end-users so that the contractor is able to do the job. Before construction started on the M&M building, personnel and postgraduate students had to be “decanted” into other surrounding buildings. This resulted in the Department being spread out and not in one central place. Fortunately, in the next phase of the ECR project, which involves the refurbishment of the Civil and Electrical and Electronic Engineering buildings, personnel will be decanted into a brand-new building being constructed at the moment across the road on the same site where Facilities Management and Information Technology are housed. This new Decanting Building will serve the entire Stellenbosch Campus and will accommodate staff while their permanent office space is refurbished to improve the disruption during construction projects.”

Mr Du Preez concludes: “The next ECR work packages will include the refurbishment projects of the Civil Engineering and Electrical and Electronic Engineering buildings that will be tackled concurrently. The Civil Engineering building will house a whole block of large classrooms which will be utilised by all departments. After that, refurbishment of the Process Engineering and the General Engineering buildings will complete this decade-long Engineering Campus Renewal project to the value of almost 729 Million Rands.


The graphic on the left depicts the concept of the Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering building. The photograph on the right shows construction as seen on 2019.07.08.