The Science Stadium Project forms the focal point of redeveloping the former Skeen Stadium on the West Campus of the University of the Witwatersrand. The Stadium formed part of the original Rand Showground infrastructure inherited by the University. It had potential for adaptive re-use of the stadium structure with the former track as a supporting public space forming a new precinct within the campus.
The stadium was repurposed into Auditoria and Tutorial Rooms spread over three levels. Adjacent this a new building comprising undergraduate laboratories for Chemistry, Physics and Biology was added, linked to the auditoria component. The laboratory building has a north-south orientation with a large scaled colonnade onto the central public space and feeds into the new open foyer of the auditoria building.
The laboratory building catering for 400 students in laboratories, called for large clear span spaces with easy movement of students through the facilities. A key concept was the idea of ‘science on display’ with glazed facades.
The repurposing of the stadium rather than demolishing existing infrastructure was seen as a cost effective and environmentally responsible solution. The building is designed with robust finishes and with clear environmental performance in mind. Specific attention was focussed on introducing and controlling natural lighting in the laboratories and auditoria balanced against artificial lighting requirements, environmental controls and the optimization of artificial ventilation and energy efficiency. The laboratories are one of the first buildings in South Africa to use a thermally active slab (TAB) system to passively heat and cool the spaces.