The project was the new building for the Engineering Department of the Nelson Mandela University (NMU). It was a phase 2 of the new engineering facility comprising of a general gathering area, 160-seater auditorium, multi-purpose tutorial classrooms, a workshop area and ablutions.

The building was designed by Afriplan Architects for the NMU, with the electrical and electronic services designed and monitored by CA du Toit Eastern Cape (Pty) Ltd.


Concept for Design:

The building was designed by Afriplan for the Nelson Mandela Universities Engineering department for the additional lecture and workshop space for the extension and growth of the engineering department. The design had to keep the height of the building in-line with the existing buildings.

The interior had to facilitate the following areas:

  • Workshop area, particularity for the development of the Megatronics and Automotive sections.
  • Link to the existing buildings.
  • Main auditorium to be able to seat ±160students
  • Tutorial rooms, which could be divided up into smaller areas or linked into larger areas.
  • Office area for 4 staff.
  • Ablutions and pause areas for the students.

Nelson Mandela University (NMU)
Afriplan Architects
CA du Toit (Pty) Ltd

Specialised Installation

The lighting installation of this building was special in comparison to the normal approach and standards taken with the existing buildings. Most of the lighting was purpose made to suite the architects design and carefully selected and designed still to give the desired effect and functionality. The lighting was incorporated as part of the ceiling design as to extenuate the linear effect of the building. All the specialised light fittings were manufactured locally at Lighting Innovations Africa in Port Elizabeth.

Installation Areas

The façade lighting consisted of strip lighting been installed on the entire perimeter at the bottom and top of the specialised cladding. This was to highlight the building, as it was at the main entrance to the campus.

 The difficulty was how to install the flexible, weather proof LED lighting, that it would remain in place and that would have the effect required.

This was overcome by having a lip manufactured by the cladding company and installing weatherproof boxes on the inside to house the drivers and utilising specialised adhesive for aluminium and the linear LED lighting to bond and to remain in place. This was successfully achieved.

The lighting in the link passage was a continuous specially manufactured, surface LED linear fitting.

The fitting needed to follow the profile of the building and have the look as if it was a one-piece continuous fitting. This was achieved by utilising Lighting Innovations Africa’s Gola50 extruded profile and having specialised curved links made to follow the profile of the building and the linear LED luminaires.

The entrance pause area is high ceiling area with concrete accent wall and high shop front glassed area. The lighting to this was mostly chosen by the architect and need to be installed in a particular manner to give the effect of “floating bubbles”

This was achieved with specialised imported fittings which are suspended from the ceiling. There was also the up/down wall specially manufactured to highlight the concrete wall.  With careful planning and installation, the desired effect of the lighting and open space feel was achieved.

The main passage was a feature to link the facilities and for future link expansions on the campus.

The main feature was a continual luminaire of ±44 meters, fitted into a slot below a specially designed and curved ceiling. This fitting had recessed asymmetrical Gola60 LED as illuminate the passage from one side. In the passages off from the main passage, there were accent lighting with fitting recessed vertically into the walls which were flush with the wall finish.

The Auditorium was a very intriguing are, where the fittings were purpose made to suite the shape of the ceiling and wall as designed by the architect in conjunction with the electrical engineer. The lighting comprised of various lengths of GOLA50 linear LED luminaire which were fitted into a specially manufactured ceiling and wall structure with slots for the luminaires and ventilation louvres. The lighting can be switched to various levels and sections depending on the requirements of the lecture/venue.

These were predominately black and with all the relevant carefully designed lighting, it became an intriguing area. The ablutions consist of small linear lighting above the cubicle, which creates a shadow effect of the dividing walls onto the ceiling. There is also cove lighting for the full length of the ablution with surrounding light around the mirror. The resulting effect feels more suited to a high-end hotel than a student area.


The lighting system was designed to be both functional and to create an intriguing architectural space that mirrored the feel of the structural design of the building.