The SAISC (South African Institute of Steel Construction), hosted its SAISC Steel Awards 2023 last week. This is the third part of a three-part series covering the event.

Steel Awards 2023 overall winner – Mpumalanga International Fresh Produce Market (interior view). Image supplied by SAISC

Steel Awards 2023 overall winner – Mpumalanga International Fresh Produce Market (interior view). Image supplied by SAISC

A praiseworthy achievement in Chad

The third project Gebremeskel highlighted is the Our Lady of Peace Cathedral in N’Djamena in Chad, which is the winner of the Light Steel Frame Building category.

Conceptual design to restore the cathedral started in March 2014, and addressed wind-load considerations through the implementation of a specialised shell structure design employing custom-made brackets to securely anchor the light-weight steel to the concrete structure.

This remote Central African project location required on-site fabrication. A number of logistical challenges had to be overcome due to the absence of nearby ports and limited road infrastructure suitable for container transport. The entire project also had to be successfully delivered during a period of political instability in the region.

“South African steel companies are not only doing incredible work in very complicated environments administratively, politically and security-wise – but are creating structures that are also very noteworthy – as demonstrated by this and other Pan-African projects this year,” advises Gebremeskel.

In summary, the Steel Awards 2023 category winners are as follows:

Mining and Industrial:

Winner: Azmet Reactors – this bold pan-African mining project entailed fabrication and transport to the DRC of 6 reactor tanks, with detailed design of complex geometry featuring FEM (finite element method) modelling and an integrated support frame and platform.

Factory and Warehouse Category / Metal Cladding

Winners: Mpumulanga International Fresh Produce Market and Pick ‘n Pay Distribution Centre East Port

Tubular Category

Winner: Mpumulanga International Fresh Produce Market

Light Steel Frame Building

Winner: Our Lady of Peace Cathedral – Chad

Architecturally Exposed Steelwork

Winner: NMU Ocean Sciences Campus Extensions – this project’s innovative use of steel succeeds in showcasing the university as a world-class tertiary education institution of choice

Innovation and Sustainability

Winner: Pick ‘n Pay Distribution Centre East Port

Best Export Project

Winner: Azmet Reactors

Regional Awards

  • Best Project Gauteng – Pick ‘n Pay Distribution Centre East Port.
  • Best Project Western Cape – Hasso Plattner d-school Afrika – this innovative use of space expresses and celebrates the building’s unusual geometry, overcoming the challenges of a highly congested site and construction during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Best Project Eastern Cape – NMU Ocean Sciences Campus Extensions.
  • Best Project Mpumalanga – Mpumulanga International Fresh Produce Market.
  • Best Project KwaZulu-Natal – Pepkor Warehouse, Hammarsdale – this retailer warehouse was completed against a background of severe socio-political unrest and also extreme weather. The cost-effective design and interactive project co-ordination and implementation are key highlights of this project.

Steel trends

Although the SAISC does not judge project nominations according to budget and size, Gebremeskel acknowledged that many nominated this year were far greater in size and financial value than previously. Although mining projects – and especially those in remote locations – are inevitably the largest, he observes that large retail distribution centres have also grown tremendously in size, and also aesthetically.

“Projects such as the Pick and Pay distribution centre – winner in several categories – and the KwaZulu-Natal category winner, the Pepkor Warehouse, Hammarsdale – both point to this. Our retailers are looking for greater efficiency, so these buildings are getting larger every year. South Africa is becoming the vanguard for the construction of distribution centres throughout the region. These are the kinds of buildings that many other countries in Africa require moving forward, so we need to develop local steel sector expertise to deliver similar projects cross-border in the future,” he says.

He adds that there were also a lot of architecturally-driven projects this year. Winner of the Architecturally Exposed Steelwork and Best Project Eastern Cape categories, the Ocean Sciences Campus at Nelson Mandela University, showed how a large educational institution project could utilise steel to echo the client’s image as a world-class tertiary education facility.

Diverse judging panel and generous sponsors

“The SAISC is very grateful to the Steel Awards judges, who have given of their own time to contribute to the industry that they love.

This year, the judging panel was more diverse than ever when it came to age, gender and professional specialisation. With the greater emphasis on Pan-African projects, we look forward to growing and diversifying the judging panel even further. This includes featuring judges from other African countries, which will provide insight into the challenges faced by project teams in countries such as the DRC, Chad and Namibia,” Gebremeskel remarks.

The SAISC also thanks all stakeholders who worked to make the Awards a success – and the generous sponsors. These include the main sponsor, Unica Iron and Steel, Macsteel (Pan-African Trailblazer sponsor), Bolt and Engineering Distributors Group (table decor sponsor), BSi Steel (factory and warehouse category sponsor), Stewarts & Lloyds (light steel frame buildings category sponsor) NJR Steel (innovation and sustainability category sponsor), The Association of Steel Tube and Pipe Manufacturers (tubular steel category sponsor) and Isilo Steel (photo booth sponsor).

“The 2023 Steel Awards provide significant insight into our sector, and just how notable and impressive the projects are. The Awards form an essential platform for showcasing – and celebrating – what the South African steel sector can do, not only locally but across the continent. For this reason, we are encouraging all our members to continue to focus on innovation and quality, setting their sights beyond South Africa and throughout Africa,” he concludes.