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Corobrik drives affordable sustainable housing solution for students at Onderstepoort campus

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Established in 1920, the University of Pretoria's Faculty of Veterinary Science is the second-oldest in Africa, and is still the only faculty of its kind in South Africa. Situated in Onderstepoort projections show that student numbers are expected to increase in the future due to the higher intake of new undergraduate students, thus creating the need for more on-campus residence space.

In 2011 MEG Architects successfully completed the first phase of the Onderstepoort Student Housing development at the University of Pretoria. When approached to deliver the second phase, architect Tienie van Rooyen notes that he believed that the second phase would be an identical duplication of what the firm successfully handed over in 2011.

The core design principles remained the same with a few tweaks made from lessons learnt during the first phase. Three new four storey residence blocks for undergraduate students, with a total of 96 were designed.

The initial phase of the Onderstepoort Student Housing development stands boasting the exquisite Corobrik Country Classic Satin face brick. The red brick with a hint of blue is complimented by the lush green environment of the Veterinarian Campus grounds during the summer months, while still responding positively to the dryer, pale winters.

Apart from the University of Pretoria's mandate for low maintenance student housing the same Corobrik Country Classic Satin face brick was specified as the majority facade finish to strengthen the ties with the first phase. Vertical plaster bands running through the windows are painted with a neutral earthen colour, further amplifying the use of the face brick.

The layouts of the residence blocks followed the same accommodation requirements as the previous development phase; a communal kitchen and lounge area, two respective communal bathroom and ablution areas and eight private rooms per floor.

The SANS 10400 Building Regulations requires that building envelopes perform with a minimum thermal resistance of that of an un-plastered 230mm thick clay brick wall. The thermal benefits of such cavity wall construction have been known for many years and used extensively in construction along the coast to mitigate the impact of wind driven rain on the inner leaf of walls. The necessity to follow good design principles and to design buildings that perform more effectively when it comes to thermal comfort and energy efficiency is of great importance leading into the future. With this in mind, the northern cavity walls of the residences are built with a 230mm wide cavity and filled with fly ash for further insulation the large cavity creating a passive sunshade during the summer providing further lag and extending the time in the thermal comfort zone. The other exterior walls are built with a 50mm wide cavity with a 50mm thick high density polystyrene for further insulation, explains van Rooyen. The combination of thermal capacity [from the bricks] and thermal resistance [from the bricks, the air in the cavity and insulation materials] provides a wall CR Product that contributes to a comfortable temperature within the respective blocks both during the hot summer months and the cold winter months.