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Aurecon appointed for Two Oceans Aquarium extension and refurbishment

Artist illustration of new predator exhibit at Two Oceans Aquarium

Image courtesy mlh architects & planners

11 April 2014 - Aurecon has been appointed as structural, civil and wet services engineer on a new large-scale exhibit as well as the complete refurbishment of the two main exhibits at the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa.

The aquarium opened its doors in 1995 and prides itself on being open 365 days a year. It is one of the top tourist attractions in Cape Town and houses over 3 000 living sea animals, including sharks, fishes, turtles and penguins.

Major refurbishment required

The walls of the existing I&J Predator Exhibit and the Ocean Basket Kelp Forest Exhibit were built with a waterproof lining intended to provide defence against water ingress. Soon after opening, this waterproof lining started coming away from the concrete in certain areas and, in 1999, aquarium staff started monitoring the ingress of chlorides into the concrete. By 2013, contamination in some areas was found to be beyond acceptable levels.  

“Aurecon was contracted to develop a strategy that rendered the tanks structurally safe for the short term (3-5 years). This involved reinforcing critical areas by attaching custom shaped steel plates. This strategy was implemented in 2013 in order to ensure that the aquarium remained operational and open to the public. To extend the tanks’ life for at least a further 30 years, however, a complete refurbishment of the tanks is necessary,” says Henry Herring, Aurecon Project Manager.

Aurecon will be utilising design experience gained working on the Ushaka Marine World Aquarium in Durban and extensive experience in designing water retaining structures to ensure that the material specification and design of the new tanks is water-tight in the aggressive aerated marine environment.

“The highly complex refurbishment programme of the older tanks minimises the need for major demolition. It involves remedial work to the existing concrete, the rebuilding of the concrete rebates for the acrylic viewing panels, the installation of a galvanic protection system and, finally, a full concrete re-lining of the inside of the tanks. This programme will commence in 2015,” comments Herring.

Exciting extension project called for

In order to house many of the animals in the current two main exhibits, an extension project in the form of a new large scale exhibit is underway. “The exhibit will have a capacity of 1.2 million litres and will feature a 9 m x 4.5 m viewing panel, and an acrylic walk-through tunnel,” says Herring.  

It will house large ocean predators and will aid in drawing crowds while the existing tanks undergo refurbishment.

Construction of the new exhibit officially commenced in January 2014 and is slated for completion by December 2014.

“Aurecon is proud to be working on a project that showcases the best of the continent’s sea life. The Two Oceans Aquarium is a key tourist attraction in Cape Town and we look forward to helping ensure it continues to operate as a beacon of excellence,” concludes Herring.


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