The perfect fit
Universal Plywoods used at Future Africa Campus

Since 2007, Universal Plywoods has nurtured relationships with their suppliers and project partners, allowing them to become the region’s specialist distributor of engineered timbers of the highest grades and quality. Sustainable technology is at the heart of the Universal Plywoods’ product range and there is a continual strive to supply trades with sustainably grown, and sourced, timber.

Partnered with frontrunners of the new forest industry and architectural design such as UPM Plywoods, Lunawood, Raw Studios and Earthworld Architects, Universal Plywoods was ecstatic to be an integral part of the Future Africa Campus, Pretoria. As described by Earthworld Architects, this dynamic living, learning and research environment “required a holistic approach to the subsequent urban design and architecture of the campus, with a specific focus on how architecture can play a role in fostering critical thinking and research”.

It was what could only be described as an exhilarating conglomeration of like-minded environmentalists in their industries – this motivated and energetic team produced the iconic timber marvel that is the Future Africa Campus. Featuring sustainably grown timber from all parts of the globe, Universal Plywoods was representing the suppliers that believe in the same sustainable goals.

The Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) beams and Birch Plywood structures were the ideal products for roofing due to their composite nature; multiple layers of thin wood assembled with adhesives results in a much lower chance of the timber warping, bowing or shrinking.

Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) was used for the doors, mid-walls and room dividers and Birch Plywood was used for the structural beams, furniture and acoustic panels. Both these products stood out for their strength, sustainability, appearance and versatility.

Lunawood Thermowood provided an incredibly stylish and dimensionally stable design and functional element to the decking and pergolas. Thermally modified using natural methods (heat and steam), Lunawood’s product is known for being resistant to decay, non-toxic and resin-free and can be used inside or outdoors in any climate. It is perfect for all seasons in Pretoria.

The Future Africa Campus was a mammoth project, one that required a multitude of cleverly and economically designed plans and structures by Earthworld Architects and the Future Africa Campus management team. Earthworld Architects made note on their blog, 2018, of one of the many innovative ways in which they had carefully planned the use of timber:

“Traditionally, a construction process changes many hands, going from sourcing, to manufacturing, to retail, eventually reaching site through contractors. Shortening this value chain would drastically reduce cost and time; dealing directly with manufacturers also allows for greater understanding of construction materials and improves quality control.
Through inter-disciplinary partnerships with designers and manufacturers, flat-pack, structural timber portal frames were developed to carry the envelope of the (Future Africa Campus) dining hall. Designed in segments, the portals would be transported to site and assembled in a matter of hours, reducing the need for water, shuttering, heavy machinery, etc.”

It was an astonishing team of industry experts that created the Future Africa Campus: superseding expectations, illuminating timber within the architecture and design industry and unifying the ultimate goal of sustainability. A project that Universal Plywoods was proud to be a part of.

Universal Plywoods are committed to responsible business practices and sustainable products. Their suppliers have the highest ratings for responsibly sourced and manufactured timber, confirmed by a transparent and accessible certification process. Visit the website to find out more.