Omega Consulting Africa (OCA) was recently appointed as the civil and structural engineers for the new LEAP 4 Science and Math School on the Methodist Church site in Diepsloot, Johannesburg.
“It is a very special project for our company, as we are not only associated with a school that will be delivering the engineers and technicians of the future, but which is also at the cutting edge of sustainable construction technology by using the stabilised rammed earth (SRE) method to build most of the external walls of the school,” says Kent Georgala, OCA’s MD.
The building was designed by architect Roger Davies of Roger Davies Architects, is being project managed by Peter Taylor of Beyond The Line and constructed by Michael Beukes of Rammteck, a leading expert in SRE wall construction. The new school will add to LEAP Science and Math Schools’ stable of six no-fee secondary schools, whose main aim is to increase the number of learners studying English, Math and Science in South Africa’s poor and disadvantaged communities. LEAP 4 is being constructed in corporate partnership with the Aveng Group and will replace the rented accommodation that had housed the school since 2011.
Amongst others the school will feature 20 classrooms, a school hall and an administration building.
According to OCA’s Kent Georgala, SRE construction is gaining popularity in South Africa, in particular for sustainable community projects. Rammed earth is already an established construction method in many African countries such as Malawi and Zimbabwe, as well as in Europe, the USA and Australia.
Georgala says that other than the durability of this construction method, rammed earth walls also have intrinsic environmental qualities such as high thermal mass, strength, and the ability to modify humidity which makes it ideal for creating a healthy school environment. Furthermore, rammed earth has endless creative possibilities and provides a very attractive alternative to carbon-heavy bricks and cement with a natural and plentiful resource. “Another important benefit of the rammed earth construction method is the number of jobs that can be created during the construction process as well as the building skills that can be passed on to members of the local community,” Georgala adds. “It is intriguing that new applications are constantly being found for such an ancient building method.”
LEAP 4 is due for completion in 2018.
Issued by OCA on 12 April 2018.