The Sol Plaatje University library and student resources building project, in Kimberley, Northern Cape, has been awarded the 2017 Fulton Concrete Award in the ‘buildings greater than three storeys’ category at the 2017 biennial Fulton Awards, hosted by the Concrete Society of South Africa in June.
The project also received a commendation in the architectural concrete category at the Awards, which recognise excellence and innovation in the use of concrete.
Aurecon was responsible for the project’s structural, civil, electrical, fire and wet services design. The building project started in May 2014 and is expected to be completed by December 2017. The Sol Plaatje University opened in 2014.
The judges’ citation noted that “this bold and original project pushes the boundaries of architectural and engineering design, which required very high expectations from the concrete to perform not only as a structural but also an aesthetic material”.
The library’s design allows for the building to be draped in a continuous concrete shell, which takes on a strong angular, diamond-like shape to serve as a reminder of the diamond mining history of the city. A key structural element of the project is the library’s floating façade. The integrated external skin of the building blends the walls with an origami like roof, which is functionally, structurally and technically independent of its inner building core.
Another important structural element on the project was the use of A-frames over the auditorium. This enabled the design team to omit two columns without using bulky transfer beams in the space. This omission, in turn, provided better aesthetics and resulted in cost savings, as the floor-to-floor height of the space did not have to increase as a consequence.