|The building of the Xenarthra Rehabilitation Centre, Colakreek
|Containers turned into the Xenarthra Rehabilitation Centre Colakreek
(design Gaatze Postma)
In October last year, METS Tours and Travels and Green Heritage Fund Suriname signed a letter of intent that framed the proposed cooperation at Colakreek. A donation of shipping containers from Wartsila for work and living space followed soon after, but that did not mean that the centre was built overnight. In fact, building with shipping containers requires thinking ‘outside the box’, even for trained construction workers. Therefore, it has been necessary to form a group of specialists as well as create action plans under the logistic guidance of Wynne Minkes. She is also in charge of the fundraising and education program for this project.
The five shipping containers need some architectural help to look like a real building. The initial design work was donated by Anil Ramnewash, but after three months he had to admit that he did not have the time to complete this job, however much he regretted it. Therefore, the design is currently being adjusted by Gaatze Postma, donated by Architectenbureau Sipma in Heerenveen (photo1). Local architect Satya Singh gives feedback on the design and joins Wynne in meetings to help with the technical issues.
|Geo Survey measuring our plot on METS’s resort: a 15 m x 100 m strip
of parking lot for the containers and a good chunk of the forest behind it.
For this contract, GHFS hired a land survey team by Geo Survey, to measure our plot (0.82 ha), which lies partly on the parking lot and partly in a strip of forest of Colakreek (May 21) (photo2).
For the foundation of our centre, it is crucial to know the bearing capacity of Colakreek’s savannah soil. Donation by Hugo Coleridge from Consulting Services N.V. (May 30) (photo3).
Clean up of the construction area at Colakreek (May 30)
The Centre will consist of four 40ft shipping containers on the parking lot next to the fringe of forest. Two containers at the bottom will be our office, animal care + kitchen and two storage rooms. The two containers on top will be the living area of the manager, researchers and volunteers (three bedrooms and a kitchen). Another 20ft container, which will house the animal intensive care and visitors terrace, will be placed next to these containers and into the forest. For the latter, an area of 10 x 10m had to be cleared of a few small trees, shrub and grass, together with the remains of former Boy Scout huts. Under the leadership of Wynne a group of volunteers, including Jane, Sara, intern Gracella, and Orlando performed the work.
|Volunteers clearing the construction site at Colakreek and
the Geotechnical team measuring the soil’s bearing capacity.
The building blocks of the Xenarthra Centre are the four 40ft and one 20ft shipping containers donated by Wartsila. They had been used for the construction of two giant new generators at SPCS. At present, the containers are still at the SPCS premises, where a team of volunteers has started grinding off the rust, and apply primer. About 1/3 of a container can be ground per half day shift of volunteers. Our Rusty Team so far consists of Errol, Kim, Kate, Brad, Jane, Sara, Roger, and Wynne (photo 4). However rainy season (June-August) makes this job difficult, and so work progress has been slow.
Heavy transportation vehicles are needed to translocate the concrete foundation blocks and five containers from the SPCS and Staatsolie premises to Colakreek, some 50 km inland. With help from some institutional friends we hope to take care of the transportation.
The architect’s design with the engineer’s calculations will have to be send to the Ministerie van Openbare Werken to obtain the building permit. This itself might take 6 to 8 weeks.
The foundation may be the trickiest part of our construction project: how to create long term bearing capacity on loose savannah sand in a climate with torrential rains, while considering a small budget. Our preference is to recycle the concrete piles (such as the cut off heads of vertical foundation piers) donated by Staatsolie. Our team of contractors, architects and general construction specialists from all over the world, have contributed their advice.
|First day of grinding, with volunteers Errol and Kim.
To make the transition from the architect’s design to a workable plan for the contractor and work crew, we need an engineer to do the calculations. Especially on the foundation, the stacking of the containers together with the required steel reinforcement, as well as the roof construction. Nardy Wong from Firm Engineering has offered to do the initial calculation for us for free and has started this job (July 9th).
Engineer Sara Fusté has donated a preliminary report on our energy needs and possible yields by solar panel.
Doors, windows, furniture
Donation in kind from SOS Handelsmij NV was suggested by Natascha Veninga. This week we have been granted with a donation of doors, windows, and washbasins for our containers (July 3). Such items are being shipped with the main cargo of office furniture from the Netherlands to Suriname. In addition, SOS Handelsmij has granted us a 50% discount on all our purchases of office furniture from this shop.