The gargantuan building site (of 6 000m2) opposite McDonalds in Main Road, Observatory will soon be a new UCT self-catering residence, which is being built for UCT by developers Cape Living Development at a total cost of R485 million, and is due for occupation by UCT on 1 January 2012. It will be the largest UCT residence (more than double the size of the 389-bed GraÃ§a Machel residence), boasting 900 en-suite bedrooms with shared kitchenettes. Residents will also benefit from the ground floor retail space (retailers still to be decided).
But with its impressive size also comes an increase in traffic. John Critien, the executive director of UCT's Properties and Services Department, says the university is working to minimise Obz Square's impact on traffic flow.
For instance, Main Road is to be widened and realigned at the location - a section of the road that has been constrained until now, causing many accidents. Parking space for Obz Square residents and the customers of the new businesses will be available in the basement.
In addition, security issues are being addressed as part of UCT's involvement in the new Groote Schuur Community Improvement District. The building will be under 24-hour security camera surveillance, fully access-controlled and CPS-patrolled.
Its speedy construction (with the main structure on schedule for completion by the end of 2010) is largely thanks to the use of prefabricated concrete structures; even the staircases are prefab. Large concrete structural members are manufactured off-site and inserted - Lego-style - into the building's framework: the same goes for the bathrooms. The bathroom pods are assembled off-site and come fully-fitted, tiled and plumbed, ready to be lifted and plastered into rooms, some of which are already complete.
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