The R13-million air-conditioning project was awarded in September last year and construction started in February.
The project is drawing to a close, with the shopping mall being scheduled to open later this month.
“Everything has thus far gone according to schedule and, to date, we are on track,” says WSP Consulting Engineers director Graeme Page.
The 28 000 m2 mall is situated in a low- to medium-income residential area, but will service a variety of shoppers, from high-income earners from the medium- to high- income residential areas, to low-income earners from the informal settlements, which all fall in a 2 km radius of the mall. The single-storey mall will combine local businesses and traders and big retailer tenants, creating a unique shopping environment.
The heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) contract was awarded to the Johannesburg offi-ces of WSP Consulting Engineers, as the company already has a solid relationship with the project manager of Vangate Mall, WT McClatchey Associates. “In order to keep costs down for the client we are, however, using our Cape Town office extensively on-site,” explains Page.
The company has had to employ contractors and staff in line with the client’s black economic-empowerment (BEE) requirements and Improvair Environmental Solutions was chosen as the successful contractor to serve this purpose.
“We have taken the new Con-struction Charter for Economic Empowerment very seriously and are committed to employing BEE contractors,” says Page.
The company is also working in association with Ubunye Engin-eering Services, its empowerment partner.
Page has been working in conjunction with Gerhard Bothma and Yaseen Parker from WSP and Lindsay Lund and Shaun Peterson from Ubunye – together the companies are sharing the responsibilities for the project.
Ubunye has been responsible for draughting, site supervision and qual- ity control while WSP Consulting Engineers has been responsible for the design due to its extensive experience in shopping centres.
“In terms of designing the shopping mall’s air-conditioning system we have adopted the tried-and-tested route,” says Page.
The main tenants will each have their own air-conditioning equipment, which will comprise dedicated evaporative condenser-cooled rooftop air-conditioning units with individual controls, while the line shops will be served by shared evaporative condenser-cooled rooftop air-conditioning units.
“Filtered fresh air to the mall will be drawn through the air-conditioning units, it will then be mixed with the return air, passed through cooling coils and finally be circulated to shops through air-diffusion equipment,” explains Page.
“Air is ducted back to the air-con- ditioning units by means of return air grilles located in the mall,” he adds.
Part of the mall has been designed to accommodate a market area for local traders, and WSP Consulting Engineers had to come up with a way to ventilate the entire area.
“We decided to treat the market as one large department store and have thus installed air-conditioning units as we would in a normal store of this size,” says Page.
“In designing and installing the air-conditioning systems throughout the mall we have had to work very closely with the architect and interior designer and careful consideration has had to be given to supply and return air grilles,” he adds.
The company says that one of the main challenges encountered on this project was coordinating all of the air-conditioning ducts with other services within the confined ceiling void spaces of the mall.
A height limitation was imposed which made it difficult routing the air- conditioning ducts into the building from the air-conditioning plant slab.
However, the company adds that, through careful planning in conjunction with the structural engineer and architect, the problem was resolved. So far, major milestones have been achieved and the project is on track for its completion date at the end of the month.
WSP Consulting Engineers has been involved in projects for numerous shopping centres and has worked on a number of Woolworths stores countrywide.
Currently, the company is involved in a new-look Woolworths Design Quarter, which is under construction at the new Nicol Grove Shopping Centre, in Bryanston. The company has been appointed to carry out the HVAC consultancy contract for Woolworths.
“This follows our longstanding relationship with Woolworths over a number of years,” says Page.
The Woolworths store will be the first of a new design, which will include no ceilings and double-volume spaces.
The ducting service will be exposed and the company says that it is using spiral painted ducting and swirl diffusers to enhance the space.
“This design will not affect the tried-and-tested use of stand-alone packaged equipment which is being used for the store.
“The equipment is in no way lin-ked to the rest of the shopping centre and thus enables Woolworths to have full control of the plant in terms of temperature and day-to-day operation,” explains Page.
The Woolworths Design Quarter is scheduled to open in November.
“We are delighted to be involved in this Woolworths store, which adds to the impressive list of Woolworths stores that we have consulted on over the years,” says Page.
He explains to Engineering News that, at present, the industry is flourishing. However, he expresses his concern at the lack of young engineers coming into the industry.
“Over the next five years we expect to see the industry grow even more with the run-up to the 2010 soccer World Cup.
“There will be an increase in the leisure industry, which will require HVAC services; this will also have spin-offs for our telecommunication, electrical and IT divisions, which is good news for the company as a whole,” says Page.
Having extensive experience in the design and supervision of electrical and mechanical services, the company has been involved in projects from corporate office environments to retail centres, hospitals, sport and leisure facilities, and refurbishment projects. With more than 50 years of experience, the company is working on a number of strategies, including its BEE commitments, in order to ensure that it remains at the forefront of consulting services.