One does not build buildings if you do not have hope.”
This was the words of Mr. Chris Munnik, Chief Director: Facilities Management, at the opening of the new three-storey, sustainable Facilities Management Building in Hammandshand Road in Stellenbosch on Wednesday, 16 May. This building is a symbol of the 21st century living, learning and working places that Stellenbosch University is working towards.
The building brings together the subdivisions of the University’s Facilities Management Division namely Property Services, Risk and Protection Services, Planning and Development and Facilities Services.
Prof Russel Botman, Rector and Vice Chancellor, explained the various innovative green and smart features that contributes to the building being sustainable. A thorough shadow-analysis was done to keep the heat-load to a minimum, yet let enough light into the building. The large eaves and the strategic use of wood panels on the outside also help keep the building cool in summer and warm during winter. Wood panels are also used on the outside of the building to eliminate as much as 50% of the heat-load. Another innovative aspect of the building is its air-conditioning. Cold water is extracted from the Eerste River and used in the air-conditioning system and then pumped back to the adjacent Lentelus sports fields as irrigation water.
“Where the lights are concerned, the use of electric light is limited as natural light is utilized as far as possible. When lights are used, the building makes use of another smart feature: Light sensors measure the amount of sunlight that enters the building and automatically dims the lights to adjust. And motion sensors switches lights off automatically when people leave the room,” said Prof. Botman.
He further explained that in accordance with the University’s Campus Master Plan it was decided to move the service departments to the periphery of the campus. “Thus we are making space available for the academic and research divisions which need to be at the centre of campus. The ‘Old Conserve’ where some of the Facilities Management departments were housed, is now available for the Bureau of Economic Research which will be moving to campus from Technopark. This will lead to a significant saving in rental costs.”
The building also houses the University’s World Class Facilities Operations Centre which among others monitors the street cameras and those at the buildings. The Centre monitors fire, smoke and burglar alarms and the University’s emergency generators, and controls the central air-conditioning and energy management systems. Facilities Management’s 24-hour helpdesk for all facilities is also operated from the Centre.
Mr Munnik says that the 1 412m2 building is using space much more effective and that they are now using 7m2 per person as opposed to 11m2 per in the past. “And yet it feels more spacious. We are also working better, because we do not have to schedule a meeting to discuss something with a colleague in another building.
“We are very proud of this first world working place and it is an indication of where we are heading with the rest of the campus.” Botman added: “This building is a showcase of where the University is heading in terms of office design. “Most of our existing buildings come from an era of one or two people working in their own large offices. This building is the opposite. It mostly features open-plan work spaces, which represents a more efficient use of space. But it also changes the way people work and relate to each other. Like all things new, it will take some time getting used to, but this is the way the world is moving, and Maties will not be left behind.
“However, this building is about more than just bricks and mortar, it is actually about flesh and blood and the welfare and success of the people of not just this university, but eventually this town, province, country and continent. Through the HOPE Project, the University is well-positioned to change the world, but in order for us to fulfil this ambitious task, we need the proper facilities. The new Facilities Management building is an excellent example of how we want to learn, live and work in future.”
The building was designed by TV3 architects and costs nearly R24 million. Construction started in May 2011 and was completed at the end of February this year.
Caption: Prof Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of SU, and Mr Chris Munnik, Chief Director: Facilities Management, unveils the plaque at the opening of the new Facilities Management building. Photo: Justin Alberts