A commitment to live learning continues at the Cofimvaba Science Centre
Generations of learners in the Eastern Cape will benefit from one of the most innovative science centres in the country. The CSIR-developed Cofimvaba Science Centre not only demonstrates technology, but also incorporates the latest sustainable technologies throughout the design process. The CSIR developed and constructed the centre and continues its involvement through a multiyear post-construction building performance assessment, as well as a further ecology education teaching infrastructure project.
The centre showcases innovative construction methods and how to achieve near net zero energy (producing more energy on site annually than it consumes) and near net water. To create this live learning exhibition, the CSIR drew on its multidisciplinary skills base. Energy experts developed a microgrid in which solar panels, small-scale wind turbines and hydrogen fuel cells supplied by the North-West University (NWU) are used, along with a backup to the Eskom grid. Computational fluid dynamics experts helped model the air flow and pressure so that architects could design an optimal natural ventilation building. The centre is built with a light steel frame and insulated polystyrene infill panels covered with spray-on concrete plaster walls.
The building is in part exposed so that students can see the technology and understand and learn from the structure. Other innovations relate to vertical airflow chimneys and grey water recycling, while the centre also features a planetarium with a telescope dome supplied by NWU, and an onsite South Africa Weather Bureau weather station. The Cofimvaba Science Centre is funded by the Department of Science and Innovation and the Eastern Cape Department of Education, and supported by the Development Bank of Southern Africa.