Stellenbosch University:
Faculty of Engineering:
Department of Civil Engineering Pavement, Geotechnics and Roads Laboratory

Project: Faculty of Engineering: Department of Civil Engineering Pavement, Geotechnics and Roads Laboratory.

Client: Stellenbosch University 

Professional Team:

Elements Architecture & Design: Development Planning & Design Project Management

Project Manager & Principle Agent: AL& A Project Management

Architect & Principle Consultant: KMH Architects 

Quantity Surveyor: ARQS

Landscape Architect: Planning Partners

Fire Engineer: STAC Consulting Engineer

Electrical Engineer: Gibb Consulting Engineers

Civil Engineer: SMEC Consulting Engineers

Mechanical Engineer: BVI Consulting Engineers

Structural Engineer: Edifice Consulting Engineers

Electronic Engineer: TTA Consulting Engineers

Occupational Health & Safety: Safe Working Practice Consulting Engineers

Project Description:

The origin of the SU Engineering Campus Renewal project (ECR) goes back to 2013 when SU Faculty of Engineering and SU Facilities Management commissioned an architectural investigation into the status of the ageing Engineering Faculty buildings. The conclusion of this investigation led to the compilation of a report on possible building refurbishment options that are consistent with the University’s vision and obligations in terms of statutory compliance, functional improvement, spatial optimisation and growth. The report became known as the “Master Plan” or to inform the “Engineering Campus Renewal Project” (ECR).

The ECR Projects will upon approval consist of the following buildings:

  • General Engineering Building
  • Old IT Building – New Industrial Engineering Building (NIEB)
  • Mechanical and Mechatronic and Industrial Engineering Building
  • Process Engineering Building
  • Civil Engineering Building: PGRL Building
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering Building


The new 2400 m² NPRL Pavement, Geotechnics and Roads Laboratory (PGRL)  building serves the constantly changing and growing needs of the Faculty of Engineering and the Department of Civil Engineering. It also serve the construction industry providing research opportunities, and it forms part of the Engineering Campus Renewal  Masterplan.

The PGRL building provides a selection of modern civil engineering laboratories that upon completion will be a catalyst for unlocking future growth areas within the existing Civil Engineering Department.

The PGRL is situated on the Northern side of the existing Water Laboratory and provides 2nd level circulation routes to other existing laboratories within the existing Civil Department Building.

The PGRL building has been designed to make efficient but creative use of standard building methods and materials. The building is a two-storey structure with cavity brick exterior walls, supported on a concrete slab with pad footings to columns and strip foundation to perimeter. The roof structure is an innovative imagining of a standard metal south light structure in the way that slopes in two directions, effectively removing the need for complicated box gutters, whilst still providing an excess of ambient soft south light prized in galleries and ideal for the laboratory setting. This orientation was also designed for optimum PV panel installation in the future.

Finishes are kept to a minimum – bagged brick; polished and off-shutter concrete and metal cladding – and have been chosen to deal with the harsh interior environment of crushing, vibrating and large-scale concrete, bitumen, and asphalt testing. Whilst the materials are robust, they have been used in a way that elevates the space from what can be a sterile industrial aesthetic to a more artful and considered end-product. The colour palette is another considered element, with very few colours used in large format areas. a Selected pallet of primary colour was used to identify and decorate the surface mounted service runs, for ease of identification and maintenance as well as creating an interesting interior in a large laboratory space.

The building will form part of the engineering faculty of Stellenbosch both as a much-needed extension but also as a signature piece of statement architecture right at the entrance to the rest of the campus, which should hopefully set the standard for engineering buildings and what they can be.

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