DESCRIPTION OF PROJECT A BRIEF HISTORY During October 2004 we were appointed by the National Department of Public Works to provide a new facility for the Phuthaditjhaba Stock Theft Unit horses. My wife and I own and breed Arabian horses and having grown up with horses we were excited at the prospect of designing, what we regard, as ideal stables. We studied the brief and proposed changes which we felt would better the facility. These proposals were accepted and the design process got underway. DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS Stock Theft Unit horses work extremely hard in the rugged, mountainous terrain in and around QwaQwa and up into Lesotho. The facility would serve as their home and would need to be comfortable. Considerations: • Use of spaces • High clay content of site • Agricultural nature • Formal facility (nature of the SAPS) • Hard-wearing surfaces • General health of horses • High ammonia levels • Corrosive effect of ammonia on steel • Social life of horses • Safety of horses • Water and feed requirements • Cleanliness • Training facility • Vehicle accommodation THE DESIGN SOLUTION Our design approach was to address the design considerations from a very practical perspective as will be discussed below. The buildings wrap around a welcoming, north facing stable yard with drinking fountain as focal point. Raft foundations with adequate ground beams were used atop imported gravel filling. Gently sloping, green, sheet metal roofs on exposed steel trusses are used along with earthy materials and clean architectural lines. Sandstone chunks contrast plastered panels and the darker hue of “Corobrick” Country Classic Travertine; while the courtyard drinking fountain gurgles away the time. The planning approach has been formal with stable stalls placed on either side of a broad corridor. The corridor is dropped lower to accommodate drainage from the stalls. Any liquid finding its way to the corridor drains through floor grids into a piped underground disposal system. Internal walls were plastered, stained and sealed to form a hard-wearing washable surface. Adequately ventilated stables promote equine health. Sliding louvered shutters are used over winblocks. These can be kept opened or shut to accommodate changing weather conditions. Dung and urine emit high concentrations of ammonia which are dealt with through the provision of good natural ventilation. A louvered winblock placed at floor level allows cool air to enter at low level while warm ammonia laden air can rise through the exposed trusses to below the roof sheeting and up through the ventilation louvers. All steel in the facility has been hot-dipped galvanized to combat the effects of corrosion. Horses are very social creatures and require interaction both from a contact and visual point of view. Steel barred windows and doors ensure visual contact across the corridor, while ensuring both physical and visual contact between stalls. Safety considerations were sliding gates (instead of hinged doors), rounded (instead of sharp) wall edges at stall entrance, cone-shaped feed and water containers (to prevent a horse from injuring its foot as many horses paw the ground ahead of them while eating out of a trough), non-slip molded cobblestone floors. Each stable stall has a water trough, hay rack and feed trough. Horses are messy eaters so the water trough was placed in the corner opposite the feed trough. Horses play with and eventually break any water float. All trough water levels are controlled centrally by a float system located in the stable manager’s office. Sweaty horses transported in horse-boxes, on dirt roads, arrive covered in dust. A stall sized wash-bay has been placed opposite the medical store. This area can be used for both the shoeing and washing of horses. The lunging ring is filled with river sand and has sub-soil drainage. The steel ring tapers to the inside to keep a running horse’s feet well away from colliding with perimeter walls. 2 Official vehicles are catered for along with a horse-box. Due to the abnormal height of a horse-box; we opted to lower the floor rather than heighten the ring-beam. This necessitated the access being from the opposite direction.
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