Situated conveniently on Main Road in Claremont, the new Roscommon House development is designed specifically as a student residence, with all the facilities for a conducive and safe learning and social environment for young people. Less than three kilometres from the University of Cape Town, it is on the route of the well-used Jammie shuttle and other public bus transport, as well as being close to the Claremont station. It is also just 200 metres from the popular Cavendish Square retail centre.
Built to accommodate over 580 beds in about 400 rooms, the project comprises a seven floor building with two parking basements. There are about 60 rooms per floor, most of these being single rooms with a shower, basin and toilet. To cater for a range of needs and affordability, however, other options include a shared room – with two beds and a bathroom – or just a bedroom where the student uses communal bathrooms. There is also an option where four students can share a communal lounge area and kitchen, with their bedrooms – each with its own bathroom – leading off the shared area; each floor has four of these units.
Overseeing the project has been Concor Western Cape contracts manager Jacobus Malan, working closely with site agent Bruce May who manages daily operations, including a foreman on each floor to oversee the wet works after each slab has been thrown, and a complement of almost 50 subcontractors. Concor Western Cape will be taking the building to final finish, including extensive IT infrastructure to give students fast, uncapped Wi-Fi internet access, along with biometric access control CCTV surveillance to prioritise safety.
“Demolition of the old Shoprite building overlapped the piling operations which commenced during the first week in November 2017 and were completed before the builders’ break last year. This allowed construction work to commence in earnest in January 2018 and we completed the floor slabs by early September 2018,” says Malan. “Building was severely disrupted during Cape Town’s rainy season, which began in April and cost about 22 days of rain delays. After the extended drought, however, no-one was complaining!”
He says the key challenge towards the end of the contract is to manage the coordination and performance of the subcontractors as so many concurrent activities are conducted on all the floors. May agrees, saying it is critical to devote sufficient resources to manage the schedule and keep everyone to plan, especially with about 380 workers active on site, which will peak at about 500 before the project ends.
“We do programme monitoring on a daily basis to make sure that everything we plan gets actioned,” says May. “Safety officers and safety assistants are also on site to keep all areas well controlled.”
He notes that strong winds in Cape Town pose a constant challenge, sometimes limiting the lifting time that the tower cranes can offer; lift-time was especially critical in the latter stages, lifting formwork and a range of requirements for the wet trades from street level.
Among the many items being lifted are Concor Western Cape’s specially designed trolleys containing the cement-sand premix, which make use of the 2,5 tonne capacity loading platforms on the outside of the building. From there, they can be conveniently moved around the floor. After the cement-sand premix is dispensed through a flap in the rear of the trolley, refuse from that floor is then loaded into the trolleys for removal from the building before they are lifted back down.
According to Malan, the subcontractors for the project include many local companies, while there is also a healthy contribution from the client’s suppliers from Gauteng, together contributing to the tiling, plumbing, joinery, balustrades, ironmongery, data and IT infrastructure. One of the first areas to be completed was the marketing suite on the ground floor, so that the client could demonstrate to prospective tenants what the rooms and facilities will look like.
Enhancing the student-friendly design of the building is a laundry, a gym, braai areas, study and computer centres, as well as recreation and ‘chill’ rooms. The building is scheduled for completion in December, and will officially open its doors to students in January 2019.