Stortemelk hydro

The minimalist rustic design blends well with its environment

Power plants aren’t usually top of mind when it comes to architectural awards however the Stortemelk Hydropower Project recently received the 2017 Award for Architecture from the South African Institute of Architects for the Free State Region.

The hydropower project is one of the three projects included in the Botterkloof and Merino II feasibility study by global engineering and infrastructure advisory company Aurecon with Renewable Energy Holdings (REH).  Earthworld Architects was subcontracted by Aurecon for the architectural design of the upper part of the power station.

Blending seamlessly with the landscape

According to Aurecon the brief from the client was to create a building that blended seamlessly with the landscape while also celebrating the responsible production of electricity.

It comprises a number of building skins, including corten weathering steel and polycarbonate sheeting, to create different experiences of the plant from the exterior and from within the interior.

Slotted window openings in the façade create the perception that the production of electricity is spilling out into the environment, creating a beacon in the landscape.

Upon completion, the project team managed to create a space that showcases spectacular light quality and successfully blends into the landscape, while celebrating the plant’s functions.

The 4.4 MW hydropower plant near Clarens was constructed between two existing dams without affecting their operations and stability, which is also a notable achievement for the project team.


Earthworld Architects and Inside Earthworld Interiors were appointed to assist with the design of the Stortemelk Hydropower Project

A great example of a renewable energy project in Africa

“We are honoured to receive this award. There is considerable potential for hydropower development in Africa and the Stortemelk Hydropower Project is a great example of a renewable energy project that will benefit thousands of people in the community for years to come,” says Bertrand Rochecouste Collet, Aurecon Project Director.

The construction commenced in October 2014 and, 22 months later, reached commercial operations date in July 2016, on time and within the project budget, without using any of the project contingencies.

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