The upgrading and refurbishment of two studios in the Centlivres building will ensure architecture students are now better equipped for the working world.
At a cost of R850 000, the sanding down of timber floors, painting and routine maintenance work, together with the reconstruction of a smaller seminar room and new computer laboratories, have produced a more favourable and pleasant workspace for the students.
The project entailed the creation of 40 new computer stations in two laboratories and the provision of infrastructure for an additional 40 laptops in the studios, ensuring students have access to the Internet while at their drafting boards.
According to Professor Jo Noero, director of the School of Architecture and Planning, with no improvements or adjustments to the school for the past 25 years, the renovations have been welcomed with much enthusiasm by both staff and students.
Noero explained: "There was a dire need for equipment, especially digital equipment. Besides improved traditional drawing boards, our students now have access to computerised drafting packages, which provide an integrated and efficient work environment."
Sporting funky coloured couches, the studios also include a "chill-out" area where students can relax, have a cup of coffee and chat to fellow, soon-to-be architects about the finer aspects of the discipline.
"We wanted to create an environment which would encourage the students to spend more time here," explained Gloria Robinson, project manager from Properties and Services. "The students have a choice to work in the studios or at home, and previously the dark and unpleasant surroundings meant many chose to work at home.
"By generally cheering up the whole place, many students now prefer to stay in the building," she added.
Robinson is pleased with the outcome of the project, which was started in September 2002 and involved three months of construction.
"It's a challenge to deliver a project on time and within a specific budget," she said. "But it is always rewarding to see the end result and the impact it has on other people."