Buildings: Creating Spaces That Are Both Accessible And Sustainable

by Clive Alfino
GWC’s various buildings in Muizenberg are the spaces where our students live and learn together. They’re indispensable to the residential theological community. But they’re also not cheap, and things tend to break down over time. So I want to tell you about two building-related projects that are presently underway: the Hope solar panel system and the Morris House elevator.

Firstly, Hope’s solar panels:

This student residence consists of four floors, each approximately 400m2. The ground floor has parking facilities for 15 vehicles, a reception, and a student lounge. Floors one through three have 39 sharing rooms and four single room flats. The fourth floor is the dining and lounge area and a commercial kitchen. We can seat 120 people for a meal here. The Hope Centre is a lively space. This brings me to the matter of our solar panels.

We currently have 102 PV panels installed on Hope’s roof. These provide the electrical requirements for the building during the day. However, because we don’t yet have a lithium battery system linked to it, our solar system cannot serve the building at night or in bad weather. The estimated cost to install this system is in the region of R1 million.

The cost seems high. However, because the Hope centre already has an entire borehole filtration system in place, once this battery system is installed, we will be awarded a ‘green house’ certificate. This certificate is not insignificant. In addition to saving costs in the long run, it demonstrates our commitment to renewable energies and future generations of South Africans.

Secondly, we come to the Morris House elevator:

This building consists of three floors. The lecture rooms are on the ground floor; reception, offices, and the kitchen area on the first; and meeting rooms, offices, and our auditorium are on the second.

Morris House contains an old hoist type elevator (1200mm x 900mm), primarily to provide access for those who are physically disabled. It consists of an enclosed shaft, but the car itself has bars rather than doors. This makes use of the lift somewhat terrifying. Not only does it creek, malfunctions are not uncommon and more than a few students can trade stories about being stuck in it.

The estimated cost to upgrade the elevator is in the region of R 500 000. Again, this seems like a lot of money. But in addition to ensuring the safety of our students, this upgrade will be evidence of GWC’s concern to make our spaces accessible for everyone.

Click here to donate towards these projects now.