Structural Engineering and Civil Input at The Diocesan School for Girls new Mathematics Education Centre: Grahamstown

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A TIGHT FIT

Construction Challenge Accepted

MBB Consulting Engineers (EC) and the Diocesan School for Girls in Grahamstown go back a long way. We made sure they could play hockey and swim year-round, with a new Astro Turf field and indoor Aquatic Centre. Their new Dance Studio gave them the space to bust their moves. The MBB-built Hostels allows them to wind down in their home-away-from-home when the day is done. Next up, a Mathematical Education Centre.

Since construction on the new Centre commenced in November 2018, MBB has been supplying the necessary structural and civil input to make the numbers of the numbers building make sense. Following the destruction of the Josie Woods Cottage, housing the original IT and printing house, the real challenge began. A double-storey, 8-classroom brick and mortar building with a “snoepie” in the courtyard didn’t sound like a challenge – not to us. The challenge for us was the same as for a kid trying to find a comfortable seat on a school bus – the “leg space” is non-existent.

With no room for error (“room” is used literally here) the work is completed with staggering attention to detail. The platform was cut just 3m away from an existing building and offered 850m2 on which to erect an 825m2 structure. With the safety of the structures on one side, we have to keep in mind that we are building this structure in the middle of a fully functioning school. There is no room for accidents. Up to a thousand scholars pass by the construction daily, changing classes between the surrounding buildings. Our storage space, a driveway, is still being used for House Masters to gain access to their houses. And yes, we brought in a motorised concrete pump down the same driveway and pumped 160m3 of concrete in 10 hours, without incident.

Just like you do on a cramped bus ride, though, creative solutions and a bit of acrobatics proved to be the way. Instead of focusing on the challenge, we put all our attention on the solution and proved to ourselves and the Diocesan School for Girls that there’s always a way where there’s a will.

The current completion date is October 2019, a week behind the original schedule. We deserve a little wiggle room somewhere.