31 October 2008

First truss lifted!

The iconic first roof truss has now been lifted into place. After weeks of frustration and waiting, today the deed was finally done. It was a perfect day, a very light breeze blowing from the south west. The sun was out to greet this momentous occasion. A crowd of about 200 people gathered to witness probably the finest ever construction feat in the history of Port Elizabeth. It started with two cranes, the large Kobelco, with 4 cables attached near the back, and the Castle Crane Hire auxiliary crane attached near the front. Firstly, the nose of the truss was lifted. It pivoted on the base connection point on the template. This meant that the centre of gravity moved backwards, giving the Kobelco more control over the truss. It also meant that the truss was in the correct position for it to be attached onto the stadium skeletal structure. Once the correct position and centre of gravity were obtained, the truss was raised out of the template, seemingly effortlessly despite its 60 ton weight. When it was around 30 meters off the ground it was turned to the angle needed for positioning and final attachment. Then came the arduous task of getting the base attachment point (A-point) and the two side connection points (pendulums sticking off the top of the top tier) in line so that attachment at these important points could take place. This was done without hiccup but created a lot of stress for those watching. So that’s it… 1 down, 35 to go. Trusses should be going up at more regular intervals now (preferably one every three days) and, with the second truss already nearing completion and the third now also under way with the two familiar ‘tusks’ in place, this is by all means do-able. So congrats to the main contractor, workers, engineers, sub-contractors and everyone else on site. You have overseen the beginning of the construction of the most technically challenging and iconic aspect of our stadium. You have overseen the beginning of the end.

Here follows a photo sequence and cellphone video of the lifting.

30 October 2008


A number of times I have mentioned the ETFE membrane that will be used on the roof of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. It is in fact called PTFE. PTFE is a similar membrane to the ETFE membrane, just slightly less expensive. It has been described to me as a canvas-like material, obviously a waterproof canvas. Apologies for my error.

25 October 2008

Daring exploits

Yet again, the trusses are on the ground. I've given up predicting when they're going to be lifted because I now officially have no idea. Everytime I think, it must be this week, something new comes up. So let's say that when either one of them is lifted I will be as surprised as everyone else. In the meantime more cabling is being added and bolts are being tightened. The cabling, I assume, has to do with the ETFE membrane that will be attached on the underside of the truss. But this is a guess and all will be revealed in the near future. While on the subject of attaching cabling, I am astounded at the courage of the workers that carry out this perilous task. They literally climb all over the truss, sometimes without harnessing, to attach the cables to their respective places. These are the true heroes of 2010 and a hearty congratulations to them. The second truss is also progressing well, as can be seen in the pictures.

Back of the first and front of the second, the two trusses stand nonchalantly, unaware of their importance.

A closer view. Note the piece being inserted into place in the foreground, and our heroic truss-climber on the top of the truss in the background.

Blood, sweat, tears and human power have gone into assembling these trusses.

A piece being levelled for attachment. The pieces attached above the two 'tusks' are pre-fabricated as can be seen here.

Men standing on elevated platforms, the massive Kobelco and two Castle Crane Hire cranes all going at it to complete the truss.

The whale-like back end of the superb new roof truss.

22 October 2008

And then there were two.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that work on the second truss has gone well since our last visit, with the first few major components secured on the template. Next to it, most of the "ribs" have now been attached to the first truss, though there are still a few to go. The aluminium cladding, will apparently be added once the truss is in place on the stadium structure, meaning things are just about ready for (and maybe it's stupid of me to pre-empt this) the truss to be lifted. This weekend?

Note the far truss with most of the 'ribs' attached. In the foreground, the new truss taking shape.

A behind angle of the 'rib' bearing truss.

The two trusses stand side by side.

A close up shot of the new truss.

19 October 2008

Ribs added to truss

Almost three weeks ago, work began on assembling the first of 36 roof trusses for the stadium. And they're still at it! This raises the question: are they going to complete the covering of the truss with its perforated aluminium membrane before lifting it into position? Already this week, cabling has been added as well as the first of the rib-like components between the main beams. Check it out bru!:

One of the "ribs" hangs suspended from a crane as workers attach another.

The new "ribs" give the truss a whale-like appearance.

Sure some are done but check all those on the ground!

This oke digs ribs!

18 October 2008

A view from the top.

Trusswork is still slowly commencing. It's astonishing the amount of stuff that has to be added before the truss can be deemed ready for lift-off. It's also somewhat irritating, after expecting some movement towards the stadium structure, to see the truss still securely fastened to the template. Currently, steel cabling is being added I assume for the perforated aluminium cladding. Otherwise, seats are being installed on the top tier and our 'View from the top' shows this, as well as the general stadium bowl, very clearly.

Our view from the top. Note the red seats in place and the imposing superstructure.
Fastening cabling to the truss.
A worker completing the modifications on the template. 2 new 'arms' are being added to each template, as well as attachment points for the trusses.
While we were at it, we thought we'd update everyone on the progress down at the Newton Park swimming pool. It's due to get a roof and a transparent facade. It will be a heated, Olympic sized swimming pool and will be used in 2010 by players and tourists. It will be a great asset to the city.
Preparations for the roof installation at the pool.

15 October 2008

Tricky trusses, tricky weather

While there is little obvious evidence of progress since last we visited on Saturday, it is clear that many smaller jobs are being carried out in readiness for the great lift-off - that is, the day when this, the first of the 36 trusses, is lifted into place. What has changed is that scores of housings, which will take the many narrow gently curved components, have been added. There are also now five horizontal support beams fixed to the outside of the top tier. Also, we noticed far more activity on the construction of the next three trusses on the other templates. The word at the site was that the first truss could be lifted into place this weekend, weather permitting. Wind, and occasional rain, continue to plague progress. We'll keep you posted . . .

The housings for the narrow, curved white components, bottom right, have been added, and look like perched birds. Similar work seems to have been done on the narrow beams themselves. What did surprise us is that they're taking so long to finish this work.

Two horizonal support beams - five are now in place - can be seen in the background. Two of these will help hold each of the massive 500-ton trusses in place.
Work on assembling the next trusses seems to have got under way with a vengeance at all four of the templates. One gets the feeling they'll put a lot more effort into this part of the project once the first truss has been successfully mounted on the superstructure.

12 October 2008

Truss nearing completion

The front section of the truss has now been added. Note its immense size and span.
Rear view. The components in the foreground will be added to smooth out the truss to allow cladding to be added.
The first of the support beams attached to the super structure. We've concluded that the bottom point of the trusses will sit directly above the double thick columns with the sides attaching onto these support beams. The double thick column being the column in previous pictures that has a 'T' groove in it.
At the very centre of this picture, at the point where two visible white components converge, the attachment groove for the support beam on the super structure can be seen.
Finally, like a giant boat upside down in the dry dock, the first truss cuts a majestic sight.

11 October 2008

Roofs are being lifted...

Throughout the country, new stadia are being built. These stadia are now reaching advanced stages in construction. Roofs are being lifted at most new stadia and upgraded stadia across the country. Source: Skyscrapercity.

Green Point Stadium

Third tier progressing well and nearing completion. Note the beginning of the compression ring for the roof in the second picture.

Moses Mabhida Stadium

The inner bowl
Back of the arch.

Mbombela Stadium

The roof structure
Side on view of the roof structure.
The giraffe neck lit up.

Soccer City Stadium

The calabash mesh.
The calabash shell, ready for the facade cladding to be added. Since this picture, cladding is now being added to give the stadium its calabash appearance.Note the size comparison of the stadium compared to the circled man.

Peter Mokaba Stadium

An outside view of the stadium under construction.

Royal Bafokeng Stadium

The outer facade coming together on Royal BafokengAnother view of the new stands and outer facade.
The finished product - diamond of the Pilanesburg.