Sika’s external structural strengthening systems’ flexibilty and versatility provided a tidy solution to a tricky problem at the newly constructed Westwood Mall, near Westville on the outskirts of Durban.

The Westwood is an upmarket shopping centre that houses a wide variety of retail and leisure outlets, requiring vastly different furniture and fittings. Some tenants, particularly clothing boutiques, use very little equipment, while others, like restaurants, have to install heavy metal fridges, ovens, and other specialist catering equipment.

The mall stands on concrete pillars in a basement parking lot with a concrete waffle-look soffit ceiling forming the slab for the floor above it. The concrete base beneath the outlets, housing heavy shopfittings, such as Nando’s, was not strong enough to support the load above it, necessitating extra reinforcing in these areas.

The situation was difficult because the client, Grinaker Construction, had only the protruding spines on the soffit ceiling, which were of a limited width, to work on. This meant that only specific lengths and widths of reinforcing could be used. The client was also under severe time constraints, making it necessary for the product to be cut at the factory in Europe, and flown in as a matter of urgency.

Sika Carbodur 914/1214 and Sikadur 30 were the external structural strengthening products specified for the project. Sika Carbodur plates are pultruded carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) laminates designed for strengthening masonry structures.  They were bonded onto the spines of the soffit ceiling as external reinforcement using Sikadur-30, to increase the capacity of the floor slabs in the sections where heavier equipment was installed.

The high strength and excellent durability of the Sika products made them an obvious choice for this application. In addition, the unlimited length and light weight of the Sika Carbodur plates made it possible to cut them to the required lengths in Europe and transport them to Durban in time to meet construction deadlines. The simple plate intersections made installation very easy, especially when working overhead, and the clean edges without exposed fibres were perfectly suitable for use in a public area.

Sika has proven once again that it has a product for every application and a solution to every problem, ensuring that the more complex and challenging a situation is, the probability is that Sika products will be specified for the project.