WSP Africa, one of the largest multi-disciplinary engineering consultancies in Africa, has received a commendation award in the Tubular category for its work on the Aquatic Centre of the American International School of Johannesburg (AISJ) at the recent Steel Awards hosted by the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC). 

Additionally, the Aquatics Centre won first prize in the Photographic category.

The Aquatics Centre is a purposely designed, all-weather swimming pool facility that caters for pre-kindergarten through grade 12. It features a six lane, 25m pool with an additional shallow teaching pool, enclosed changing and ablution facility with a terraced roof public viewing area, office areas, storage space, a mechanical room, and purpose made bleachers.

Adhering to the Project Architect, Briget Grosskopff’s directive to the design team; “…we do not want to see any exposed bolted connections…” it was essential that WSP get it right not only in terms of design and engineering, but from an aesthetic point of view as well. As a result, "all the innovative designs and fabrication approach we utilised were to achieve a continuous smooth flowing structure, emulating the water’s endless wave action," says Miguel Tavares, Regional Director for WSP, Structures, Africa.

WSP was appointed as the civil, structural and wet services engineers of the aquatic centre, the dining commons, the fine arts building, and the amphitheatre. Additionally, WSP was also integrally involved in the project management and design for the entire campus storm water management system.

"This was an exciting and challenging project to be part of. With all our partners, we managed to implement several special design features that take environmental as well as operational and economical concerns into account," says Tavares.

These included the design assistance of the tensile structures support system, mechanical louvers on the facade, solar panels on the roofing structure, and a hybrid solar and gas heating system for the change rooms.

Speaking at the awards evening, Franco Mordini, representing the Association of Steel Tube and Pipe Manufacturers of South Africa on the judging panel, said: “The interaction between the curved tubular and straight members, the blend of colours and the various textures of the products used is simply delightful. Not only is the structure beautiful it is also structurally functional."