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TUKS MINING STUDY CENTRE

Blog | Date: August 25, 2016

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ARC Architectural
Consultants (PTA)


Project Architects:

Anton de Jongh &
Madi van Wyk
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TUKS MINING STUDY CENTRE

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Pretoria Institute for Architecture
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The University of Pretoria had identified the need to facilitate the improvement of graduate study outcomes on all levels. Due to the logistics of balancing travel time, demands on timetables and remote accommodation, the need for an on-campus study and information centre had come to the fore.

Centrally located to the engineering precinct lay the barren and defunct square, west of the engineering tower, that was ideally situated to build the Study centre. As the existing structure could not be demolished and wasn’t structurally adequate to support the envisaged development, the new structure needed to span the existing space and the new build needed to be effectively suspended from such.

This facility is a high-quality and cutting-edge development that complies with international standards in terms of finishes and fittings, all of which were thoroughly investigated and implemented by the Architects. Inspired by the symmetrical 43m free span vertebrae structure that needed to hover lightly over the existing non-supportive infrastructure, the building shape reflects that of an armadillo that not only exposes the structure but also steps down towards the West to address the low sun angles.

From an environmental and sustainability perspective the concept worked well and an existing problem was turned into an opportunity as the storm water run-off was re-engineered into a wetland.

The remnant of the original historical axis is respected by sloped glass facades to facilitate views through the entire structure onto the Old Arts building. The structure was placed into a wetland that not only addresses the storm water run-off in an environmentally responsible way for recycling, but also forms part of the Botanical educational meander. The further environmental gain is the creation of the wetland, the botanical gardens and the amphibian breeding ground.

Due to the fact that the new build needed to be almost entirely suspended from the 43 m free-span flat arched structural members, it had to be from light weight structure. The mezzanine structure consists of light weight steel members, fire protected with sheet metal, timber decking, screed and carpet.  The lower level floor consists of carpet on screed on the existing slab. The original water-feature serves as access to the server room below.

“Best practice” had been implemented ito SANS 10400 part XA and SANS 204: A Building management system; insulation and isolation; Low-e glasing; VRV air conditioning with a passive balance via actuated windows for fresh- and conditioned air; no parking provision other than public transport; recycling of demolished materials; no land had been used for the development; rain and storm water used as wetland for recycling; extensive use of timber as permanent shuttering and innovative integration into existing infrastructure as saving on new build and resources. Recycling was a priority with all paving being recycled in some form or another. Handmade grooved clay bricks that originally cladded the walls, were retained during demolitions and used for edging and funnelling water into the landscape whilst contributing to the heritage of the site.
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