Groote Schuur Estate Refurbishment

An innovative and sustainable infrastructure development

The Groote Schuur Estate in Cape Town houses a museum, a police station, and 25 houses for government employees, dignitaries, and staff. The estate covers an area of approximately 52 hectares and includes the Cape Town residence of the President of South Africa.

Zutari, appointed as civil- and electrical engineers as well as principal agent, was responsible for upgrading and refurbishing the existing civil and electrical infrastructure within the Estate. Innovative technology in design, digital and construction were used to complete the project cost-effectively and sustainably.

Zutari overcame complex engineering and bureaucratic challenges by fostering collaboration among its multidisciplinary team of experts from various engineering and management fields, including hydrology, heritage, and safety. Collaborating with hydrogeologists, freshwater specialists, heritage experts, and government-appointed parties, working closely with the South African Police Service ensured safety due to the ongoing facility operation.

One of the site’s major challenges was related to water. Ageing water and sanitation infrastructure were resulting in wastage and pollution, as well as exorbitant maintenance costs. In addition, the use of potable water for the irrigation system was unsustainable. To add further complexity, the site is situated in a heavy rainfall area, and the quantity and quality of stormwater were not being safely controlled.

The team refurbished and improved the entire fire and domestic water system using innovative construction methods. They redesigned the irrigation system and used a mix of sustainable and renewable water resources, controlled by a smart irrigation water reservoir and telemetry system. To manage stormwater, they transformed a swampy area into a constructed wetland and refurbished an extensive network of open-channel stormwater conveyance.

The Estate’s outdated electrical infrastructure and streetlights were renovated, and several municipal connections were consolidated to provide power to the entire Estate during load-shedding or power outages with the help of emergency generators.

By developing a deep understanding of the project’s unique challenges, and by effectively coordinating its many stakeholders, Zutari was able to create cost-effective, fit-for-purpose solutions.
The use of digital twins facilitated more efficient delivery by reducing the time and cost associated with design changes during construction.

Each design used in the project was crafted to cater to the unique requirements of the site, considering the facility and landscape constraints. The highly customised designs demanded innovative and technically advanced solutions, which were achieved by leveraging the expertise and collaborative efforts of seasoned professionals.

Digital solutions were a great benefit that enabled faster, more reliable delivery, better use of data, and more efficient use of resources. Zutari used Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology (AutoCAD Civil 3D) to create 3D digital representations of the project’s physical and functional design characteristics, which empowered the team to design, analyse and simulate solutions before construction began.

The stormwater management system, consisting of open channels, pipework and detention facilities, was optimized using digital simulations. The use of digital models allowed for better communication of the design to all stakeholders, resulting in a shared understanding that facilitated input from all relevant parties during the design phase.

The Groote Schuur Project stands as proof of sustainable infrastructure development’s efficacy. Zutari utilised innovative designs, construction techniques, and environmental considerations to build an infrastructure that not only offers vital services to the community but also minimises its environmental impact and maximises its social benefits.

Zutari has created infrastructure using sustainable materials and practices. This approach has made the infrastructure durable, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly. As a result, Groote Schuur’s environmental impact has been reduced, and maintenance costs have been minimised. A variety of renewable and sustainable water sources are cleverly used and optimised through a telemetry system and reservoir.

The project had a further positive impact on the local community by utilising labour-intensive construction (LIC) methods. This was achieved by partnering with the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and the National Youth Service (NYS) programme. In addition, the project provided opportunities for young EPWP learners to develop their skills through classroom and onsite training, empowering them to contribute to the project’s success.

The contractor reached the SMME development target of 40% by appointing local SMMEs to undertake most of the LIC work, empowering small black-owned companies.

*The Aurecon Africa business has been officially renamed Zutari as at 21 July 2020.  Zutari acquired Aurecon Middle East on 20 November 2020.

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