In the SADC region, Light Steel Frame Building (LSFB) is increasingly becoming the preferred building method for those interested in energy-efficient buildings that can be built fast and with minimum waste – and Swaziland is no exception.
The first notable LSFB project in Mbabane, Swaziland, is an out-patient clinic for the Ministry of Health, built by Razorbill Properties under instruction from the principal agent (PA) Ramashka Architects Swaziland. Razorbill is a Large Manufacturer Member of SASFA, and also undertakes turnkey LSF building projects.
The main purpose of the facility is to serve as a day clinic, which will alleviate the patient load from the neighbouring main hospital. Provision was made for a link bridge between the clinic and the main hospital to facilitate a free flow of pedestrian traffic between the two facilities.
Initially Razorbill presented two different LSF building solutions to the client: one was Agrément-certified while the other was a rational design to SANS 517 light steel frame building.
“The benefits of opting for the rational design route was highlighted to the PA and the client,” says Chris Smith Razorbill CEO. “These included the speed of construction, an imperative for this project; thermal insulation complying fully with SANS 10400XA ensuring energy efficiency over the lifetime of the building; site neatness and a building process that would minimise interference with patients and ongoing main hospital operations, and more.”
Smith says that the project site had some challenges in terms of the topography, site access roads, sewage lines, storm water systems and available space on site for the offloading and storage of building materials. Also, the construction tasks were split between different companies with the re-routing of sewer lines, installation of storm water systems and foundation and slab installation being awarded to a local Swaziland contractor.
“The fact is that LSFB minimises the volume of building materials required on site so we were able to overcome the site constraints,” says Smith. “Based on our experience on several other project sites where foundations were outsourced to civil contractors with little or no experience in LSFB, Razorbill decided to employ a fulltime Quality Control officer on the site to help ensure that the foundation was compliant with the standards and tolerances as required by the SANS 517 building code. This decision proved a very worthwhile one indeed,” Smith says.
The scope of works included the rolling of about 100 tons of 0.8mm and 1.2mm LSF sections in Vereeniging and transporting it to Mbabane – ArcelorMittal’s ISQ 550 high strength galvanised steel sheet was used for the LSF sections; the assembly and erection of all the LSF panels including 16.5t of heavy structural steel; the erection of 3700 m2 of fibre cement board external cladding supplied by Everite, and 14200 m2 of internal lining comprising 15mm thick fire stop and moisture resistant Saint-Gobain gypsum board and gypsum ceiling board; and the erection of the roof consisting of ArcelorMittal’s Chromadek roofing, profiled by Safintra.
The hot-rolled steel sections were used in the project to achieve the heights and spans required in the building. “This was designed by South African engineers and the manufacturing was outsourced to local Swaziland engineering firms,” Smith says.
He adds that a significant amount of materials were also procured in Swaziland, including paint, cement, boards and tiles. “And furthermore,” Smith says. “Razorbill trained and employed more than 110 local Swaziland people for the project. This job creation for locals is consistent with Razorbill’s strategy of maximizing sustainable benefits for the local communities in which the projects take place.”
The news of the energy efficient LSFB method has travelled fast in Swaziland. “The Ministry and Ramashka Architects are delighted with the project and the obvious advantages of LSFB. We have already been approached for another important construction project in Swaziland where the developers are very interested in LSFB,” says Smith. John Barnard, Southern African Light Steel Frame Building Association (SASFA) director, adds that SASFA has had two senior building inspectors from Swaziland attend its 6-day training course for building contractors, which was presented in March in Gauteng.
“This project is yet another excellent example of the benefits of LSFB,” says Barnard. “Even if you take only the advantage of being able to construct a substantial building right next to a hospital without interrupting the daily operation of that hospital, it would be reason enough to choose LSF instead of dusty, noisy, heavy, labour intensive masonry construction. LSF allows for a neat, organised and clean building site with low traffic density. If you add the other benefits such as speed of construction and long-term energy efficiency, one can understand why this method has grown so quickly in popularity in Southern Africa and why the PICC (Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission) has decided to encourage the use of IBT’s (Innovative Building Technologies) for all new hospitals, clinics, schools and student accommodation.
“The ability to achieve complex and aesthetically pleasing designs with LSFB is no longer in doubt and, given LSFB’s significant contribution to a growing movement of sustainable and cost-effective building, the advantages of LSFB to developers and the environment at large, can no longer be discounted,” Barnard concluded.