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The 26’10 South Architects and Corobrik (Pty) Ltd said on Wednesday that the construction of additional accommodation at the University of Witwatersrand’s Barnato Hall of Residence would provide about 150 students with new rooms by the end of 2019. 

The Department of Higher Education said there was a shortfall of 250,000 beds. The project demonstrates an innovative approach for universities to provide quality yet cost-effective accommodation by extending their existing residences.

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“We are testing the approach of ‘adding on’ to a number of existing residences. The extensions benefit from the infrastructure, circulation, services and social spaces of the existing residence, whilst adding value to the original,” said Thorsten Deckler, principal at 26’10 south Architects.

“Our extension to Barnato does not even have new stairs but provides the existing residence with a new lease on life by adding a much needed second lift, adding new communal spaces and improving existing ones.”

Deckler said the brief from the university was to accommodate as many students as possible using readily-available, low-maintenance materials.

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The shortage of quality student accommodation is a global challenge felt with particular intensity in South Africa, where education was seen as one of the chief means to overcome poverty. 

The project might just show a way to develop affordable and durable student accommodation, using brick to create joyful buildings.

“Extending an existing building designed in the late 1980s to resemble a Roman fort and named after a colonial Randlord presented us with an interesting opportunity to test our approach at a large scale,” said Deckler.

– African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Catherine Rice