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Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), South Africa

Completed in just 24 months from the start of construction in May 2007, the DIRCO project involved bringing an unusually eclectic, asymmetrical design to reality. The importance of the building’s aesthetic appearance meant that innovative engineering solutions had to be developed for even simple structures.

The design of numerous complex spiral staircases was pivotal to ease access and traffic within the building. This required the resolution of out-of-plane forces to produce a stable structure.

In addition, the design features “spider” column throughout the building. This was achieved by fixing structural steel onto the cast-in-situ standard concrete columns with precast concrete finishing to achieve unusual vertical and horizontal curved shapes. This eliminated the need to use costly and time-consuming off-shutter concrete. The design and manufacturing teams worked closely to resolve several problems associated with the manufacture, transport and erection of these structural elements.

Another unusual aspect of the building design is the blockwork which had to be done in stack bond instead of a stretcher bond.  This meant that alternative methods had to be used to connect the external stack bonded blockwork with the standard brick modules on the inside

The DIRCO project was a flagship Public-Private Partnership contract which showcased Aurecon’s engineering capabilities. The outcome is a landmark building that is a fitting emblem of South Africa’s new democracy and successfully provided the Department of International Relations and Cooperation with a ‘home’ in which to enact its vision.