University of Pretoria: UP’s Engineering 4.0 building awarded for innovative excellence by the SA Property Owners Association

The University of Pretoria’s state-of-the-art Engineering 4.0 building in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, which was launched on the Innovation Africa@UP Campus in Hillcrest on 30 November 2020, has been recognised for its innovative excellence by the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) in its property development awards for 2020.

These awards recognise the efforts of architects, engineers, project managers, construction specialists and other property development professionals whose work is an inspiration for reimagining a world where property development activity continues to inspire creativity and encourage productivity.

Professor Wynand Steyn, Head of the University’s Department of Civil Engineering, said he was very pleased that the development has been recognised in the category of Innovative Developments by the highly respected SAPOA judging committee. “Given that the purpose of the building is to develop innovative solutions to industry challenges, and that it is located on the University’s Innovation Africa@UP Campus, it is most appropriate that it should be recognised as SAPOA’s most innovative design for 2020.”

The Engineering 4.0 building, which was designed by ARC Architects, received the Association’s Innovative Development Award at a virtual event held on 27 May 2021. The building is described as an engineering, built environment and information technology precinct with a learning facility, as well as a developmental, research and large-scale testing laboratory. An indigenous forest and grassland form an integral part of the design, and support the area’s biodiversity.

The main laboratory is flanked by corridors on either side for the movement of services and pedestrians. Ancillary reception and social interaction spaces, an auditorium and office areas connect with the main spine. Outwards from the public interface, the design allows for storage, manufacturing and sub-laboratories. Large concrete tilt-up panels were used in combination with a steel structure and full-height glazed façades to enhance the interaction with the natural environment and promote biophilia. The sustainability measures that were applied transcend to wellness principles, with the aim of creating the ideal interactive learning, research and testing facilities in an open-architecture, fully immersive, world-class institution.

ARC Architects, with Anton de Jongh at the helm and Marié Smit as lead architect on the project, were given the design brief to develop a facility that could operate as both a learning and a testing facility in an all-inclusive design. “The result was a facility that makes a significant impact,” said Prof Steyn. The creativity of the design lies in its functionality, with an impressive external envelope and meticulously designed flow patterns, reminiscent of a machine. “The University of Pretoria, together with the South African Roads Agency Limited, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and York Timbers, as the stakeholders in this facility, are more than satisfied with the innovative end result,” Prof Steyn concluded.

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