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Steel Award 2011 Entries Reflect Aesthetic Genius of Industry

The character of the Steel Award 2011 entries, although the judges are still processing the 57 entries at the time of writing, reflects a shift in the activity of the steel construction industry since the frantic period leading up to the World Cup.

“Overall the projects are smaller. As opposed to the large stadiums and airports of recent years, together with the usual industrial and mining projects, we are seeing more housing-type developments, pedestrian bridges, malls and community centres but their expression of both the practical and aesthetic genius of their creators is no less impressive,” says Spencer Erling, Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC) education director.

One of these projects is the Waterkant pedestrian bridge, which showcases how structural steel can be used to develop a unique and very aesthetic bridge at an affordable price.  The use of standard steel tubular sections and the development of efficient construction techniques played an important part in minimising the cost of the structure.The bridge was designed for the City of Cape Town and is located in the heart of a vibrant urban setting.

Another is the Lynwood Glen pipe and pedestrian bridge, spans 72.5m over 12 lanes of the N1 highway east of Pretoria. Central to the brief was that the bridge be an ‘aesthetic’ structure in line with its pleasant residential and commercial surrounds.  Being a hybrid of a warren truss girder and a bowstring arch, one of the advantages was quick erection over the busy freeway. Construction phases, which included the demolition of the old bridge, were planned in detail in order to keep disruption of the freeway traffic and the network water supply to an absolute minimum. The pre-assembled 142-ton steel structure was lifted from the side of the freeway into its final position with an 800 ton crawler crane.

The bridge was enhanced aesthetically by the inclusion of a few special features including oblong-shaped diagonal members, hidden bolted connections and coloured feature night lighting. The bridge has already become a landmark structure to both motorists and pedestrians and is unique in that there is no other bridge like it across a national highway in South Africa.

Erling says that he is pleased with the number of foreign entries. One of these is the remarkable
All-Africa Athletes village in Maputo, Mozambique, which is also one of the bigger projects entered.  

The Athletes Village comprises 27 apartment buildings with a total living space of more than 97 000 m². After the Games the buildings, which will accommodate 6,500 athletes will be converted into residential housing.

The biggest challenge of this project was the extremely tight time frame –Mozambique had only two years to prepare - to complete the 27 structures. A well-known light steel frame building (LSFB) system was chosen because it could be erected fast while also having greater strength-to-weight ratio versus traditional methods of construction such as poured-in-place concrete.  

Erling says that the number of LSFB entries definitely confirm that it is a method that has finally gained acceptance in the southern African region. “It’s pleasing to see that this method, relatively new to this part of the world has finally taken off,” he says.

Another LSFB entry is ‘House Kahler’ a beautiful, rustic 510m2 residence on a game estate near Pietermaritzburg. One of the important considerations for using LSFB was its energy efficiency with the home being built with numerous energy and water-conserving features including: solar water heating, a 500-litre Greywater system that irrigates the garden twice a day; 15 000-litre rainwater storage with distribution options to either service the garden, laundry or the entire house; 10 skylights and solar efficient glass on the east and the west sides maximises natural lighting and air flow. In addition, LSFB enabled minimal material waste and transport requirements were considerably less than in a conventional building.  

Aesthetically this structure is a masterpiece, blending in perfectly with its natural, rustic surroundings. The interior is modern and minimalistic with clean lines and large open plan areas. Nine folding/stacking glass doors contribute to the fresh, open and unrestricted feel of this unique structure.

Erling says that the judging is currently in full-swing with judges visiting projects all over the country and beyond. “It’s an exciting time and we look forward to the judges’ final decision.”

In an innovative move the public will be able to vote for which they think are the best entries. Go to for more info on this.   

The Aveng Group is the main sponsor of Steel Awards 2011. Other sponsors are: Cadex SA, Association of Steel Tube and Pipe Manufacturers of South Africa,  Stewarts & Lloyds, Macsteel, ArcelorMittal SA, B&T Steel, Cosira Group, First Cut/ Kaltenbach, Group Five, NJR Steel Holdings, Tubular Holdings and Vital Engineering.

Steel Awards 2011, the 30th Steel Awards, will be held simultaneously in Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Cape on September 15th 2011.

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