Change the world


A novel building method and a forward-thinking funding model are being used to speed up construction of much-needed student accommodation at Nelson Mandela University.

Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, building has been ongoing with three major residence projects – one in George and two on campuses in Port Elizabeth – to increase the University’s present on-campus accommodation from 3870 beds to 5868 over the next eighteen months. 

In addition, with demand for reasonably-priced student accommodation far outstripping supply, the University has also intensified its efforts to accredit accommodation in private residences. By January of this year, more than 12 000 beds, mainly in Summerstrand, Humewood, Korsten and Central, had met the University’s accreditation criteria.  This is up from 6000 in 2019.

Novel building method
Both the new residences on Sanlam Student Village, where work is well underway, and on North Campus, are turnkey projects (from design concept through to furniture and finishes) and are being built using a novel building method (see adjacent photograph).

It is the first time the Peri Uno method, in which walls and slabs are cast in concrete in one continuous pour into the pre-erected Peri Uno formwork system (see YouTube clip), has been used in South Africa. It has been successfully used on a large scale in Saudi Arabia, Chile, Brazil and Ghana, especially since it is a much faster form of building than the traditional brick-and-mortar method.

In addition, once the aluminum formwork has been removed, there is no need for plaster work, only minimal preparation work, thus saving costs .  All conduits for electrical and IT service routes are cast into the structure. The same applies to plumbing services; and door and window openings. The aluminum formwork system can be reused, ultimately making them a cheaper building alternative.

The new residences will see students live in separate pods, each of which contains four bedrooms, an open area with a kitchenette, two toilets and two showers. Each pod will have its own entrance and will be connected to the next three-storey pod by a walkway (see illustration above). 

Borehole water, already available on site, will be used for the toilets, while provision has been made for the possible introduction of solar energy at a later stage.  

Timelines for residences

  • George Campus

A triple-storey residence overlooking the forestry pine plantations was completed in November 2020. The additional 198 beds are aimed at alleviating the growing demand for on-campus accommodation and will supplement the present 430 beds.

  • Sanlam Student Village

Phase one of new accommodation for Port Elizabeth campuses well underway behind the Sanlam Student Village (see photographs) and will comprise two residences of 300 and 500 beds, each using the new building method described above. The completion of these residences is expected to be completed early in 2022.

  • North Campus

Phase two of the new on-campus accommodation began last year after the bulk water diversion was relocated. The new 1000-bed residence project is being on the vacant land opposite the main North Campus car park and is also scheduled for completion early in 2022.   

Funding model
In order to expedite the high demand for accommodation and to speed up building processes, the University used an innovative funding model to ensure the best return on investment. It combined its government grants, received once every three years, and supplemented it with loan funding to fast track the student residences.

The forward-thinking approach and new funding model have allowed for the expanded number of 2000 beds and is presently being considered as a blueprint for sharing with other institutions.  

In line with its value of social justice and equality, the University is committed to enabling and empowering others. In this instance, SMMEs are an integral part of the project, working in teams in learning new skills associated with the new Peri-Uno building method.

Communication and Marketing


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