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Reasons to be Proud #R2bP: Nelson Mandela University has won five national and international infrastructure awards for the new extensions to its Ocean Sciences Campus, in Summerstrand, Gqeberha.
Nelson Mandela University’s award-winning Ocean Science’s E Block Building. Photo credit: Ray Truter Photography
As the only higher education institution in South Africa with a dedicated Ocean Sciences campus, the University is home to a range of ocean sciences education and training, research, innovation, and engagement programmes to support the blue economy nationally and on the African continent.
The campus’s new triple-storey E Block with its aesthetically appealing entrance, dedicated research spaces, specialised laboratories, offices, multi-layered foyer space and signature dive tank, won high praise from judges in four different competitions.
“These awards speak to our commitment to advance our scientific contribution to ocean sciences globally by developing fit-for-purpose spaces that meet this need,” said Nelson Mandela University Infrastructure Services and Space Optimisation Deputy Director Graham Gouws.
The new R54-million wing built from Department of Education funding is part of the University’s commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals relating to the sea. In keeping with a modern Ocean Sciences look and feel, architects SVA International, introduced a façade that is both practical and eye-catching for the campus’s new entrance.
Made from composite aluminium and punctuated with a geometric pattern, the western façade acts as a sunscreen while also offering ever-changing shadow patterns throughout the day.
This, and the impressive internal steel and concrete structure, garnered two awards at the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC) Awards, held in in Johannesburg for the best Eastern Cape design and as the overall “architecturally exposed steel” winner.
On the same day, 19 October, the Ocean Sciences extensions also won an award for Public Service Architecture in South Africa at the International Property Awards held in Dubai.
It also received a merit award at the recent South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) Convention in Sun City. Closer to home, it also won a Regional Award for Architecture at the annual SAIA-Eastern Cape Awards.
The E-Block extension followed the partial refurbishment of the former two-storey ‘70s government buildings and the subsequent launch of the Ocean Sciences Campus in September 2017.
As interest in the blue economy grew so did the need to expand the campus’s facilities for increasing transdisciplinary research, engagement, and learning and teaching.
“We worked closely with staff and the Ocean Science strategy to ensure that we developed the campus in line with specific research and academic needs,” explained Graham.
Prior to the addition of the 8m by 5m dive tank, for example, diving training took place in a pool or the sea, neither of which was ideal.
Likewise, the Coastal Marine Research Institute staff and researchers had been working in pockets across neighbouring campuses but are now housed in one space with facilities that are specific to their needs. 

Contact information
Mrs Debbie Derry
Deputy Director: Communication
Tel: 041 504 3057