Students have moved into the stylish rooms at The Campus student accommodation in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, as Concor Buildings fast tracks the project. The project has been developed by Century Property Development.
The 850-bed development, conveniently located close to both the University of Johannesburg and Wits University, is a welcome addition to the country’s limited stock of high quality housing for the growing student population. It comprises four main blocks – or towers – with the two south towers at six floors high and the two north towers with four floors. The two basement levels make space for 166 vehicles.
The high-end project includes a roof-top recreation area with swimming pool and built-in braais, study rooms, Wi-Fi throughout and a 25-seater cinema room. Starting on site in December 2017, Concor Buildings took the project to full fit-out of rooms with furniture including beds, fridges, TVs and curtain rails. The project was completed in the third quarter of 2019.
According to Concor Buildings’ site agent Justin de Villiers, challenges on the site included tight space constraints. Built between the Campus Square retail centre and Streatley Avenue, there was little laydown space for building materials and components, which included more than 7,500 m3 of readymix concrete and about three million bricks, as well as numerous precast items.
“An important innovation applied in the interests of saving time was the use of precast slabs and staircases, with structural load bearing brickwork,” de Villiers says. “The logistics of receiving, lifting and placing the precast elements – especially in the limited space – required careful planning and close supervision.”
Adopting the load bearing brickwork approach allowed Concor Buildings to start more quickly with the finishing trades as it eliminated the wait for the in-situ concrete frame to cure and for propping to be stripped off. The project utilised precast slabs over an area of some 20,000 m2, on all levels above the in-situ transfer slabs in the basement.
Building with structural brickwork does require special bricklaying skills, he highlights, and this is not a skill set in plentiful supply in South Africa. An important part of the value that Concor Buildings brought to this project is its experience in a range of building methodologies, and its network of reliable sub-contractors.
“Ensuring the right quality of bricklaying expertise, especially for a project like this, means knowing your supplier base well and monitoring their performance closely, even providing training to fine-tune skills where this is necessary,” de Villiers says.
The technique also required Class 1 mortar with a 15 MPa strength – compared to the normal strength of just 7 MPa – to provide sufficient compressive strength for the wall structures. A specialised mix was designed for the purpose and was regularly delivered by a service provider. This addressed the lack of space on site to mix mortar, and also allowed more effective quality control.
“The mortar and readymix supplier was able to conduct the necessary quality control tests at their facilities, while we also sent samples for independent testing,” he says.
The limited space also meant close supervision of the more than 40 sub-contractors, who often needed to occupy the same spaces simultaneously. At times there were as many as 800 workers on site, in addition to Concor Buildings’ 24-strong management team.
This made safety a key factor, says Margaret Dube, safety manager at Concor Buildings, especially with two tower cranes lifting and placing materials and the narrow access roadway requiring flagmen on constant duty. Working in a suburban area also meant special efforts to reduce noise, while observing restricted working hours.
The Campus student accommodation is close to both UJ and Wits.
The roof-top recreation area with swimming pool.
Rooms at the western end of The Campus were completed early to allow students to start moving in as the academic year got underway.
The narrow space between The Campus’s north and south towers are connected at every level by walkways.
The view eastwards over construction work at The Campus, with Johannesburg city in the distance.
Precast slabs being placed on the structural brickwork and grouting being applied.
Limited laydown space on the tightly defined work site meant careful planning of material movement to ensure high levels of safety and productivity.
The swimming pool and recreation area during construction.
Finishing touches to The Campus student accommodation.