WBHS Engineering & Design Faculty Update June 2020

I trust you have all managed to enjoy something vaguely resembling a normal life during the past more than 100 days of lockdown? No sooner had the school closed early for the 1st term, than the construction work of Phase 2A of the Engineering and Design Faculty was forced to halt under the emergency measures. Couru Construction, awarded the tender, had only been on site for a few days before having to cease with immediate effect, likely to result in a delay of more than a month on the expected contract duration.

The good news is that they were able to move back on site from 11 May and immediately took up where they left off. With almost no-one on campus over the past few weeks, the builders have had unencumbered access to the site with no interruptions due to school related events. Despite a few rain delays, the builders remain confident that this phase of the project will still be completed by the end of the year.

As reported in my last newsletter, our first group of Electronics students are in Grade 12 this year and we are thrilled to have had them back at school since 1 June to complete the syllabus and their practical tasks, ready to write their final examinations.

Jan H. de Waal

Headmaster, Wynberg Boys’ High School

WBHS Engineering and Design Faculty

Project Manager’s Progress Report

With the successful completion and use of the Phase 1 “Construction”, “EGD” and “Electronics” teaching spaces we can report that there was also a substantial saving against the Phase 1 budget.  We were more than satisfied with the overall result from GB Turnkey as the main contractor. The opening of the Phase 1 scope of works on 7 February was well attended and seeing the building filled with budding brains and new equipment was a really satisfying moment for the team.
The process of getting Phase 2 to the starting point with the necessary City of Cape Town approvals in place as well as the competitive tendering, the new main contractor, Couru Construction, was able to start on site on Monday 23 March with 4 days of site establishment and initial Covid-19 protocols immediately implemented before the lock-down on Friday 27 March – frustrating but great to have put the 1st spade in the ground and started the build process.

Through April, with our Health and Safety Consultant, Safetycon, we put in place what we anticipated were going to be almost all of the now “normal” Covid-19 protocols to be ready for a restart. With the Level 4 announcement in the last week of April we pushed through with restarting the site, as we are a “public works project” although not directly under PWD control. With final approvals and authorisations in place, Couru restarted on Monday 11 May – a 45 calendar day delay but delighted that we did not have to wait for Level 3 like so much of the rest of the construction industry. We did however have to wait for Level 3 for Corobrick to reopen for delivery of the first bricks.
For winter construction, the key is to “get out of the ground”. So far we have had surprisingly little rain – a blessing for the project. The first key subcontractor was the piling operation with Fairbrothers.

Working with Fairbrothers we were able to secure a substantial cost saving for the 34 micropiles to the main lab and art loft area at the back of the hall. The piling was a noisy operation and we did get a few neighbourly enquiries – especially with the number of “working from home” neighbours. This was completed in the two week window allocated and followed by the pile caps and ground beams which are complete. The raft foundations at the bottom parking area have been a bit slower to get going and require the deviation of the school ring water main, now in progress.    
Other substantial savings and contributions coming into Phase 2, courtesy of Saul Berman, are the significant donations from Corobrick for face and stock bricks, reinforcing supply and fixing from Hulse Qhinebe Reinforcing, Viva Formwork and Ciolli Ready-mix. As all project funds being spent are from generous donors, we are very conscious of every cent spent on the project. We have further received a cash donation from H&I Construction and have secured a significantly good roofing materials supply price from Youngman Roofing (Chairman is Wynberg Old Boy, Dave Mills). We are working on securing other donations of materials as we progress through Phase 2.
Safety has also been a key priority, not just normal construction safety and Covid-19 safety, but specifically emergency safe exits from the top and middle floor that have to run through the construction site. Temporary scaffold fire escapes have been constructed and are maintained on site – hopefully never to be needed!
This week the columns to the underside of the top floor art loft will be cast, and through next week we will commence with the art loft floor slab. Brickwork preparation for the first of the “sexy perforated” face brick skin to the south side of E-Block is underway. Key steel facade support work has been installed and is now ready for brickwork that should start next week – this is going to be very impressive and striking but also requires very high quality assurance being both complex and highly visible. Couru has also started with the breakthrough for the new build connecting to the existing building and later this week will commence with chopping open on the south facade of the large portrait windows.
One of my disappointments during this period is that the 18 new Grade 10 Civil Construction pupils (and others also interested) have missed out on the work done so far. While we  have photos and videos of the works progressing, it will be great to have them back in the next few weeks to “learn as we go”. Rarely do you get such a hands-on opportunity while you are in the classroom.
While the Covid-19 lock-down has delayed the initial programme, we are working diligently with the contractor to expedite the works and ensuring maximum value is derived from the generous donations.      
Doug Gordon
Brite Projects CC

click on the images below to view doug Grodon's photos on flickr

view the construction progress on youtube

official opening ceremony

WBHS officially opened the Engineering and Design Faculty on 7 February 2020 with special guests, friends, and staff enjoying the morning with us exploring the new classrooms and chatting to teachers and students.  Wynberg has led the way in introducing technical subjects to mainstream academic schooling since 2018. National Senior Certificate subjects are included in Wynberg’s subject choices from Grades 10 – 12.

The opening of Phase 1 of the two-part R32 million project, the biggest capital development project in the school’s history, changes not only the landscape of the school’s magnificent campus, but the future opportunities and careers of Wynberg Men.

click on the images below to view the full flickr album of the opening

civil construction launched as a subject

We are really excited to have launched Civil Construction as a new subject in our Engineering & Design Faculty this year. During the first couple of months our two classes were introduced to familiar topics in this industry such as: 

  • Construction management
  • Safety and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS)
  • Introduction to concrete mixing and testing
  • Use of various hand tools
  • Foundations
  • Properties of materials
  • Calculating quantities in construction

As part of the practical sessions, aside from concrete testing, the boys refurbished donated benches they now use as their own work stations. 

An exciting new addition to the curriculum is the entrepreneurship programme, which although not an examination subject, is a compulsory for the boys.

Lockdown has not stopped our boys’ educuation as we delivered online lessons throughout, but we know that they, like ourselves, are eager to get back to learning practical skills. 

We look forward to everyone returning to campus and what the rest of the year holds in store for us.
Mr Stefan Potgieter & Mr Jason Pretorius
Civil Construction Teaching Team


The first group of Grade 12 students studying Electronics are excited to test their knowledge gained in this field over the last three years in the final examinations.  It’s been fantastic to welcome them back to the new building, with the new work stations ideal for maintaining social distancing while catching up on all practical curricular projects. 

I am especially excited to showcase our new equipment to the Grade 10 and 11 students for them to learn to use with ease and experience the fun of discovery as their theoretical knowledge merges with the physical reality.

Drone Development
The Grade 9 classes have not been at school for a while now and we are eager to get them busy coding drones. We have access to an emulator for the students to see their drone move to their coding –  an enjoyable virtual experience until we are able to physically fly them here at school!  
Our plan is to start with this in the new term and let the boys have some fun. While this is all still very new with the platform continually being worked on, this will be a surprise for the students as they have no knowledge of this new development – all they know is that sometime this term we will be spending teaching time on drones.
Mr Stephan Pretorius
Subject Head: Technology & Electronics