Full circle for UCT’s School of Education

The lecture hall at UCT’s Neville Alexander building has been fitted with the unobtrusive bladeless Samsung 360 Cassettes, the world’s first round air conditioner.

In 2022, the University of Cape Town (UCT) embarked on an ambitious project to construct the Neville Alexander building for its School of Education department. As a renowned educational institution, UCT’s primary goal was to create a conducive learning environment that fosters optimal teaching and learning experiences. This involved ensuring a comfortable air temperature and allergen-free air for all occupants, while also incorporating energy-efficient systems to reduce their carbon footprint and align with their green initiatives.

The task of designing the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system for the Neville Alexander building fell to UCT’s Project Electrical Engineer, Avinesh Dhevdath. He was determined to strike a balance between aesthetics and functionality. To achieve this, he collaborated closely with the appointed architects, mechanical engineers, HVAC installers and the HVAC supplier, Fourways Group, to find the perfect solution.

The Samsung 360 Cassette commercial ceiling air conditioner emerged as the ideal choice for indoor climate control. Not only did it stand out as the best-looking air conditioner on the market, but it also boasted the most effective air distribution for the lecture hall. The innovative system allowed fresh air connections directly to the units, ensuring that students in the classrooms received fresh, filtered and air-conditioned air, contributing to better concentration and increased productivity during long lectures and tutorials.

Andries Steyn (Pr Eng), the Regional Director: HOD Mechanical regional director of WSP, played a crucial role in translating UCT’s vision into reality. The client brief demanded a high-efficiency building, and the WSP engineering consultants successfully executed it. The variable refrigerant flow (VRF) air-conditioning system offered efficiency across various combinations and enabled multiple indoor units to be connected to a single outdoor unit. The incorporation of heat-recovery systems further optimised energy usage, allowing simultaneous heating and cooling operations within different areas of the building. In the main auditorium, the architects had to work around the existing lighting features to seamlessly integrate the Samsung 360 Cassettes. This aesthetically pleasing solution complemented the auditorium’s design, impressing all stakeholders involved.

Throughout the project, Airvent, a key player in the installation process, demonstrated its commitment to excellence. Mark Rogers, the group Group CEO of Airvent Airconditioning & Ventilation, expressed his delight in working with the talented team at WSP. The efficiency and thoughtfulness in WSP’s designs made Airvent’s job smoother, ensuring the installations were long-lasting and successful. The strong partnership between Airvent and Fourways Group played a pivotal role in achieving these exceptional results, with Fourways consistently providing outstanding service, remarkable technical support, and a sales department that exceeded expectations.

Air conditioning and design that fosters learning and knowledge

The precise position of indoor air conditioners is crucial in a lecture hall. The design must allow the installation of the best air-conditioning system and a suitable position of the supply and extraction of air. WSP focused on the interaction between the architectural design, AC and the assessment of CO2 concentration in the big lecture hall.

The concentration, learning and performance of students can be greatly enhanced if high levels of indoor air quality are maintained in the lecture halls. WSP and Airvent worked well together to prioritise that without compromising the building design. In the same breath, Fourways ensured to supply accurate Samsung products that would complement the architectural design and meet the environmental standards.

Fourways Group’s Head of Business Development, Leon Crause, spearheaded the product supply. The ceiling is a fundamental element that fuses functionality with aesthetic features such as shape, colour and texture. It is worth appreciating that in addition to supplying energy-efficient and eco-friendly systems, the Fourways team paid attention to the attractive ceiling of this building. The UCT lecture hall is harmonised with the unobtrusive bladeless Samsung 360 Cassettes, in a matte black colour. This is the world’s first round air conditioner, offering architects and interior designers far more creative freedom.

The collaboration and expertise between these dedicated professionals and the innovative Samsung products set new standards for sustainable infrastructure in the education sector in South Africa. The successful collaboration ensured a comfortable and healthy learning environment, contributing to enhanced productivity and wellbeing for students and faculty members alike. Moreover, the incorporation of energy-efficient technology aligns with UCT’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and promoting sustainability.

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