Rebuilding Process Gathering Momentum After 2021 UCT Fire

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In 2021 a fire engulfed parts of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) upper campus. The devastating blaze destroyed one of the university’s libraries which housed irreplaceable collections of published materials, artworks and archival collections.

 


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When the devastating fire tore through the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) upper campus, the biggest casualty was the Jagger Library. Priceless collections were destroyed as the building was gutted.

While the blaze was tragic, it presented UCT with an opportunity to broaden the horizon of the Jagger Library rebuilding project. They decided to reimagine the iconic Jagger Library together with members of the UCT community and members of the public.

The Futures Think Tank under the leadership of Professor Alison Lewis, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment is central to this re-imagination.

Over the past six months workshops took place with more than 300 stakeholders, including primary school learners, university students, academics and members of the Cape Town community.

However, the fire did not only impact the Jagger Library. UCT has received more than R100 million as part of the interim insurance payments to cover costs related to the fire.

The university said that staff and students who lost personal items in the fire have been compensated. The student residences that were affected by the fire have been repaired and the reinstatement reports for the Cadbol and La Grotta buildings have been delivered to the insurers.

All temporary worksites on the UCT’s main plaza on the upper campus have been removed, including all containers used by UCT Libraries to archive salvage work. A temporary roof has also been installed over the Jagger Library reading room to protect the heritage structure against further damage.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said as the institution recover from the blaze, they will draw from each other’s strengths and ideas for a new chapter in the life of UCT.

Phakeng said the university remains grateful for the support and commitment offered by all involved including government, students, staff, donors and the community in the wake of the blaze.

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