New developments on the cards for UP campuses
Several major developments are taking place at the University of Pretoria, many of which are scheduled to be completed by 2011. The developments are all part of a plan to improve facilities and increase office, teaching and parking space for the University’s staff and students.
The biggest of these projects includes the construction of new facilities for the School of Engineering, as well as a new parking garage for approximately 1 000 cars. This project will soon be entering its second phase. New lecture halls, laboratories and offices will be built and will cover three floors, while the parking will cover four levels. The new building will be situated on the current parking area behind the Aula.
Mr Phillip Nel, Director of Facilities Management at the University of Pretoria, says the mass groundworks should be completed by mid-August. So far, around 64 000 metric tons of earth have been removed from the site. “The main contract for the construction of the parking area has been issued now and we have pre-qualified 11 contractors for the job. The tender documents should be issued within the next couple of weeks,” says Mr Nel.
The plans include improving the functionality of the Aula by extending the foyer and creating direct access to it from the new parkade. “The Aula is a public place that is well-known to everyone and we want to ensure that we maintain its history, while at the same time improving its usability, ” says Mr Nel.
To deal with the expanded volume of traffic, a new entrance will be developed in University Road opposite the new Tshwane Metro Station (just south of the building of the Carl and Emily Fuchs Institute for Microelectronics) with direct access to the parkade. Traffic modelling was done to determine peak flows prior to approval being granted for the development of this new entrance in order to ensure that there is no back-up of traffic. The existing entrance in University Road will be retained as a pedestrian entrance and a card system will ensure free flow of traffic into the parkade. A ramp structure will provide direct wheelchair access.
This entrance will also facilitate easy access for students and visitors making use of the new Gautrain. The close proximity of the Hatfield station to the University will provide convenient transportation to visitors from Johannesburg, particularly those travelling directly from the OR Tambo International Airport, and will increase the University’s popularity as a venue for events of national importance.
Other plans in the pipeline include constructing new or improving existing infrastructure on the University’s campuses. Around 40% of the new developments will be funded by the government following a decision by the Department of Education to make money available to increase teaching output.
Among the projects that will be initiated soon is a new four-storey Plant Sciences building, including a parkade on the Hatfield Campus. The design of the building is complete and a development plan will be submitted soon. “We are also looking at giving priority to older buildings to comply with occupational health and safety requirements and improve access for people with disabilities,” Mr Nel says. Another project is the improvement of the patient reception and processing areas at the Oral and Dental Hospital on the Prinshof Campus and upgrading and revamping the Anatomy Laboratory at the Basic Medical Sciences Building. A major revamp of the Zoology and Chemistry laboratories are also being considered. All these projects are currently in the tender adjudication phase.
In addition to these developments, the University is also looking for a solution to accommodate the campus company Business Enterprises at University of Pretoria (BE at UP), which has outgrown the space it currently occupies. According to Mr Nel the land east of the Hatfield Campus may be developed for this purpose.