Despite the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown regulations, Stellenbosch University (SU) students can look forward to returning to a campus that will not only look better than ever, but have outstanding new features too.
SU will be welcoming students to campus for higher education in hybrid mode, with a mixture of both face-to-face and online components – in the coming academic year, which is set to commence on 15 March 2021.
In line with SU's Vision 2040 and Strategic Framework 2019–2024, the University has successfully been able to continue work on its campus renewal project and other infrastructure projects, which aimed to raise the standard of the University's physical facilities to those of a world-class research-intensive university.
According to Prof Stan du Plessis, Chief Operating Officer at SU, despite the challenges during 2020, campus operations did not “lock down". “Our facilities management team pulled out all the stops to ensure that our many capital projects proceeded without any major delays. Thanks to the dedication of this team, we can look forward to officially open the impressive Jan Mouton Learning Centre in a couple of months, which is one of a number of completed projects on our campuses."
Nicolette van den Eijkel, Chief Director of Facilities Management, said the division played a crucial role in keeping the operations of the University going through all the levels of lockdown to ensure the safe return of students and staff to our campuses.
“There were several highlights such as staff moving into the new Biomedical Research Institute on the Tygerberg campus in November last year, to completing thirteen projects in the last two months of 2020 – as well as starting construction on a further thirteen projects before the year ended," said Van den Eijkel.
Among the more than thirty campus renewal, projects in progress that are overseen by SU's Facilities Management, students and staff can look forward to the following exciting and completed developments.
Victoria Non-Motorised Transport (NMT)
In a first-of-its-kind initiative on Stellenbosch campus, the Victoria Street non-motorised transport (NMT) project will provide pedestrian pathways, tactile paving for persons with impaired vision, and bicycle lanes – all in one.
The NMT project, which commenced with the construction phase on 3 June 2020, also entails new potable water mains, new IT sleeves, manholes and detailed paving.
The new potable water mains will replace the older pipes as per the SU Water Masterplan. It caters for a bigger pipe diameter to bring a greater and more reliable hydraulic capacity to areas of the central campus.
Jan Mouton Learning Centre
The new Jan Mouton Learning Centre, a cutting-edge building located in the centre of the Stellenbosch campus and available to all faculties, will be open to all SU students when they return to campus on 15 March 2021.
Its two 260-seat multipurpose lecture halls, two 135-seat workstation electronic classrooms and two 350-seat conference auditoriums make the centre ideally suited to the expansion of hybrid learning at SU.
The centre also has a low carbon footprint, which includes a greywater system that serves the ablutions. Group-work classrooms respectively seating 350, 270 and 150 will provide flexibility for lecturers and students to adapt their environment to facilitate discussion and teamwork.
Another huge advantage is that the Jan Mouton Centre was designed according to the principles of universal access, ensuring that people with disabilities can use the whole facility, its restrooms, auditorium and classrooms with ease.
Huis ten Bosch
Huis ten Bosch (HtB), which was extensively damaged by a fire in 2019, has been transformed into a modern, fit-for-purpose residence. The residence will be open again to students returning in March 2021.
The repair and construction work began at the beginning of September 2019. Huis ten Bosch will not only comply with the most recent municipal and fire regulations, but also be equipped with modern kitchenettes for students on every floor and upgraded electrical and electronic equipment. A new IT fibre route and its own water connection are some of the many improvements.
Mechanical and Mechatronic Building
The Mechanical and Mechatronic Building renovation project reached practical completion on 9 September 2020 and the department moved into the newly renovated building on 5 October 2020.
The building is set to be a catalyst for forthcoming Engineering campus renewal project phases. The new Mechanical and Mechatronic Building comprises of six levels and include a new 311-seater student computer-use facility situated on the ground level, three new electronic classrooms on level two and level three will provide 469 seats.
The new Mechatronic laboratory will also provide 51 new workstations and there have been upgrades and densification of offices and post-grad open plan areas on levels 4, 5 and 6.
Ou Hoofgebou (Old Main Building)
SU recently unveiled a new artwork in front of the 134-year-old Ou Hoofgebou (Old Main Building) which houses the Faculty of Law in Ryneveld Street.
Christened The Preamble Art Installation, the artwork comprises three separate metal plates depicting the preamble to the Constitution of South Africa in three languages (Afrikaans, English and Xhosa).
Well-known landscape artist Strijdom van der Merwe, who used water-cutting technology to excise the words of the preamble on the plates, designed the artwork.
The installation depicts the SU community's commitment to unity and nation building and is part of a range of visual redress projects currently underway on SU's campuses.
Staff and students from the Engineering faculty has already settled into the new decanting building in Hammanshand Road. This uniquely designed building consists of two identical buildings, which offer fully functional working spaces for staff and students while their original spaces are being upgraded.
For more information on SU's other ongoing campus renewal projects, visit www.sun.ac.za.