The Durban University of Technology is currently embarking on three major construction projects on campus, the biggest one being two blocks of student residences which will accommodate 800 students. The Drama Studies building roof replacement, which has affected the Department’s lecture halls, offices and Courtyard Theatre, as well as the S Block extension are the two other construction projects that the University is currently embarking on.
New Student Residence
The shortage of student accommodation near campus is the main reason behind the construction of the Winterton and Steve Biko residences which will be located on the Steve Biko Campus. One of the blocks will face Stve Biko Road and the other will face Warwick Junction. The project, costing R120 million, will be funded by DUT and the Department of Higher Education and Training.
Speaking about the project, Len Rosenberg, DUT Campus Planner, said both residences will be four stories high, feature double and single rooms and also accommodate paraplegic students. The ground floor of both residences will feature commercial shops which will also service the public. Rosenberg said the decision to include commercial shops in the design of the residences was taken to help the University generate income to repay amounts loaned.
“We anticipate that both residences will be ready (for occupation) by January or February 2015, but it depends on a lot of factors such as rain, ground conditions, etc” he said. Access to Printing, Maintenance, Facilities Management and Transport departments has been affected by the student residence construction. The Student Village residence, which is also extremely close to the construction, has also been affected and will be vacant for the rest of the year as a result.
“Access to the Scala dining hall is also affected. A separate entrance to the dining hall has been created to give students access,” said Rosenberg. The netball and basketball courts will also be affected. “They (netball and basketball courts) will be rebuilt. The soccer ground will be re-orientated somewhat because of the construction of the student residences,” said Rosenberg.
S Block Extension
This project serves to replace temporary lecture venues currently located at the Alan Pittendrigh Library basement through the construction of six lecture venues and seven computer laboratories, to be accommodated on a four storey building for the faculties of Engineering and Applied Science. The extension will also make space for the Co-operative Education Department on the ground floor. The car park west of the S Block is also currently off use as a result. It is envisaged that this project will be completed in November next year (2014). DUT is funding 20 percent of this project. The rest of the funding will be provided by the Department of Higher Education and Training.
Drama Studies Building Roof Replacement
“The roof was in a poor state,” said Rosenberg. “The timber is rotten because of borer infestation. The entire roof has to be replaced,” he said, adding that the roof replacement will expose the ceiling and floor, among others, to the elements which means that the entire building will need refurbishing, including ceilings, the theatre, light fittings and ablutions. “This project costs R20 million and is funded by DUT completely. The roof replacement project is expected to finish in April next year (2014),” said Rosenberg. In the meantime, the Drama Studies Department is being housed below the University’s Conference Centre, Ritson Campus.
Rosenberg urged students and staff to be patient and careful while the three construction projects continue. “Please be careful around the construction sites, especially students when going past the Scala dining hall and Stratford residence. That area will be hectic for the next few months,” he said.
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