Innovation is the standout quality that differentiates design resolutions and helps define architecture as special and appreciated by one’s peers. Innovation in sync with context provides the delight factor permitting architectural design to compete comfortably on the world stage. Technical skill, the ability to create memorable form that draws one in while treading softly on our planet is what puts the finishing touches to sustainable architecture. South African architecture continues to take positive strides also demonstrating an extra creative dimension unique in a country where the shaping of the urban landscape requires an appreciation of the complexities of creating an inclusive built environment.
This was said by Dirk Meyer, managing director of Corobrik, ahead of the 31st Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards, which are held annually to acknowledge and reward outstanding talent in South Africa.
The competition involves the country’s eight major universities where the best architectural students are identified based on their final theses and presented with awards at regional events. The winners of each of the regional competitions then go on to compete for the national title at the 31st Corobrik Student Architect of the Year Awards in Johannesburg in April 2018
Ockert Van Heerden Corobrik Sales Director presented prizes to the winners from University of the Free State.
Su-Elna Bester won first prize of R8 000, second prize of R6 500 went to Wim Boshoff and third prize of R4 500 was presented to Jani Schreuder. An additional prize of R4 500 for the best use of clay masonry was awarded to Jacques Steyn.
Su-Elna Bester’s thesis is entitled, ‘The M.CAC / Multi-Cultural Centre of Dubai.’ She says, “The Multicultural Centre is situated next to the famous Dubai Creek. Forming part of the traditional desert like vernacular architecture creating a special vibrant pedestrian waterfront & cultural hub. The centre is home to all different cultures & communities. The MCAC waterfront forms a setting for self-expressions alongside others to affectively build a sense of cultural diversity.
The MCAC & park flowing into the existing city fabric, becomes a place for celebration and transforms according to its needs. Personal interaction is celebrated with its vibrant, fluid walkways, desert plants, water and trees, merging open Gallery & exhibition spaces. The building is sunken into the ground with planted roofs allowing for panoramic views. The restaurant creates an urban environment featuring multiple uses, forming cohesive public spaces. The theatre forms part of the heart of the creek. This encourage visitors to sit alongside the pedestrian designed park to eat together, socialize & explore the middle eastern culture & diverse ex patriate community.
Space belongs to those who can make place of dwelling for themselves within their context. Architecture can act as a tool to form a platform for dialogue between different groups; to create one supportive community that functions culturally alongside each other. This establish a sense of community and place in which both can exist to create a shared cultural experience.
Wim Boshoff’s thesis is a Cinematic Arts Centre, an urban activation through breaking the wall. He says. “This dissertation is designed around the exploration of breaking ‘walls’ or boundaries in a dormant place to reveal transformation and connectivity within a CBD urban level and how it can contribute towards a design synthesis. It proposes a film Centre in Bloemfontein’s extensive network of educational institutes. The aim is to design a meaningful place of learning, by achieving connectivity through the investigation of movement and the breaking of boundaries.
Jani Schreuder’s thesis is entitled “A Dual Education Centre for Woman and Infants.” She proposes an education centre for single mothers and an early development centre for their children. This is aimed at addressing the topical issue of education shortage within our society. It includes a housing scheme to facilitate the re-appropriation of city space into a livable community. The proposal is located within the CBD of Pretoria and was chosen as the dissertation topic because of its social relevance and possible reach.
Jacques Steyn’s Urban Recycling Centre in Bloemfontein won the award for best use of clay brick. His thesis proposed a new age of recycling process within the 21st century city. Steyn says in Bloemfontein, like in most modern South African cities, waste can become a big problem with many pedestrians that occupy the CBD. The choice in design was to create a space within the city (Hoffman Square), where people can drop of their waste but also become part of the process of recycling. He incorporated clay brick into the design to become part of the surrounding buildings, but also allowing a design that would be durable.
Van Heerden said that all the winners had shown a close affinity with their subjects and that their designs both enhanced and integrated with the communities in which they were sited.
Speaking about trends in the profession Van Heerden said that Corobrik had noticed a resurgence both internationally and locally in the appreciation of clay brick as a material with important flexibility in design and yet with intrinsic sustainable qualities so appropriate for advancing the affordability of government building projects.
“Whilst clay brick has always been well represented in high end commercial projects, we are seeing more of it being specified for public schools, hospitals, clinics and affordable housing because of the multiple benefits the material brings to a construction project,” Van Heerden said.
“Life time aesthetics, durability and thermal efficiency are just three of the attributes of clay masonry which ensure low lifecycle costs and satisfy sustainability needs, in addition to allowing flexibility for innovative and aesthetically appealing design. These are important attributes which enable architects to create memorable and relevant additions to the built environment in South Africa using clay brick.”
Van Heerden said that the winners in the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards had shown outstanding maturity, innovation and technical skill in their designs which were a credit to the profession in both local and global terms.
Caption: Su-Elna Bester from the University of the Free State is this year’s regional winner of the Corobrik Architectural Student Awards. Her thesis is entitled ‘The M.CAC / Multi-Cultural Assimilation Centre of Dubai. She is pictured with left Ockert van Heerden of Corobrik, Henry Pretorious and Jan Smit from the University
3958; Su-Elna Bester is this year’s regional winner from the University of the Free State for the regional Corobrik Architectural Student Awards. She is pictures with her thesis model.
Durban will host the 2nd annual KZN Construction Expo on 7 and 8 February, providing the only multi-disciplinary show for KwaZulu-Natal’s built environment.
Taking place at the Durban Exhibition Centre, the event features seven dedicated exhibition zones including Concrete; Construction; Digital Construction; Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing; Smart Buildings / Eco Build; Surfaces and Finishes and lastly Tools and Equipment.
The KZN Construction Expo is an unprecedented opportunity to access the province’s building and construction value chain, and focuses on buyer and seller engagements through free-to-attend content and face-to-face interactions all under one roof.
With over 2 500 attendees expected, ranging from small contractors to architects, quantity surveyors, property developers, government and industry associations, this interactive platform not only facilitates new investment into infrastructure but also builds capacity for local architects, construction professionals and small to medium sized contractors through free education and technical skills development during training workshops.
The event is proud to present KZN’s first ever Contractor’s Corner – which will provide free practical training to over 1 000 small and medium contractors.
Another highlight is the KZN Stakeholder Engagement Forum which will unite the province’s development leaders including Master Builders Association KwaZulu-Natal, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the KZN Growth Fund and others to enhance communication between public and private sector towards the realisation of delivering more local construction projects on budget and on time.
The Architectural Essentials Corner will provide continuing professional development for architectural professionals from the South African Institute for Building Design (SAIBD) and is hosted as part of the KZN Construction Expo. The Architectural Essentials Corner provides CPD points and progressive learning for architectural professionals through a collaborative forum for the transformation of the architectural profession in the pursuit of excellence.
Sponsored by Spider Mini-Cranes, Carmix, Mapei, SA Leak Detection and BBF Safety Group and supported by over 60 exhibiting companies and 20 association partners, the KZN Construction Expo provides access to KZN’s entire building and construction value chain in a unique setting allowing for prestigious visibility, interactive networking and on-site demonstrations.
Register for your free expo ticket here.
Practitioners passionate about contributing to a better future for all are invited to enter the 2017/18 AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture + Innovation
This prestigious biennial award, founded by AfriSam and the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA), recognise the contributions that bring sustainable innovation to human living environments through an integrated approach to communities, planning, design, architecture, building practice, natural systems and technology.
“This award recognises the importance of ‘green’ building in a palpable way while enabling us to highlight and commend excellence shaping our communities for livable sustainability,” says Maryke Cronje, SAIA President and convenor for the 2017/18 Award.
As co-founder and sponsor of the Award, leading construction materials producer, AfriSam, continues its partnership with SAIA in bestowing the Award.
Apart from recognising excellence in Sustainable Architecture and Research in Sustainability, the Award also invites entries that make innovative contributions in the fields of Sustainable Products and Technology, and Sustainable Social Programmes.
According to Richard Tomes, Sales and Marketing Executive at AfriSam, the AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture + Innovation is a natural extension of the AfriSam brand and reflects the company’s commitment to sustaining the environment through responsible manufacturing processes.
“At AfriSam we believe in creating concrete possibilities. This extends far beyond just the products that we manufacture. We believe that through responsible and sustainable business practices today, we are creating a future of possibilities for our children and their children,’ he says.
Entries for the 2017/18 AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture + Innovation close at 00:00 on March 24 2018 and will be accepted in four categories:
- Sustainable Architecture
- Research in Sustainability
- Sustainable Products and Technology, and
- Sustainable Social Programmes
Project entries should demonstrate how they embody sound sustainable practices, that bear the hallmarks of great architectural or social design and innovative thinking in the field of sustainability, to improve our world.
The adjudicators for the 2017/18 AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture + Innovation are Maryke Cronje (architect and President of the SAIA), Dr Sechaba Maape (sustainability architecture academic and architect), Philippa Tumubweinee (academic and co-founder of IZUBA INafrica Architects), Niraksha Singh (AfriSam Raw Materials and Sustainability Manager), Emmanuel Nkambule (academic with particular interest in the social environment) and Richard Stretton (founder of architecture and furniture design studio Koop Design). Stretton received the 2010 and 2014 Afrisam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture and a 2014 Merit Award.
Issued by Conversation Capital
Contact Ally Cordiglia
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Leading architecture, interior design, and space-planning practice Paragon was tasked by GE Global Properties to design and fit-out the GE Africa Innovation Centre (GEAIC), the first green- and LEED-certified GE building in Sub-Saharan Africa.
GE opened its first African-based innovation centre in Johannesburg in June 2016 as part of its investment in developing home-grown solutions for Africa. The R80 million facility is the twelfth GE Innovation Centre globally. It is home to GE’s innovation focus across Africa, within its key business sectors of healthcare, aviation, energy, oil and gas, power, and transportation.
“A holistic view was adopted for the building. We have arrived at a stage of sustainable design internationally, with the minimum level being quite high. Being more than the sum of its parts, the overall fit-out aims to achieve substantially over and above this minimum level,” Paragon Interface Director Claire D’Adorante elaborates.
“The vision was to provide accessibility to a healthy environment and internalise this in the workplace, promoting an integrated and balanced health- and wellness-driven work environment,” D’Adorante comments. ‘Green’ features include an intelligent building-monitoring system, live on-screen energy/waste and water usage reports, and a world-class VRV air-con system, incorporating high levels of fresh air input and heat recovery systems.
The building aims to operate more efficiently than the market average, featuring Xeriscaped gardens and water-efficient planted walls, occupancy-controlled lighting, substantial external views for occupants, acoustically-tested and -designed environments, and efficient water usage.
D’Adorante explains that, in order to be an Innovation Centre, it had to prescribe to global and local best practice towards a more sustainable built environment. The building is currently under evaluation for a Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) Green Star 5 Interior As Built rating and LEED Gold As Built.
“We combined international best practice and localised products in a LEED/GBCSA rated interior, while tying this back to the overall narrative concept, facilitating GE’s high-performance criteria and brand dynamics,” D’Adorante stresses.
The fit-out was designed to be a dynamic and versatile multi-floor space, with innovative and mobile structural elements and furniture. The flexible environment fluidly facilitates collaboration, interaction, and innovation for all users. Conceptually the space is informed by an African geometric design language, drawn from African settlements, fabrics, and surfaces.
These include abstracted circular, angular, and linear fractal elements, integrated into the structural and aesthetic elements of the Innovation Centre to create a uniquely African, yet global, contemporary corporate spatial design.
As the building and fit-out are still relatively new, constant training and user outreach is being undertaken by the facilities team to establish a set user guide. “Common teething issues are more pronounced in the more mechanical systems with regard to user comfort and system usage, as these not only have to provide for all other use cases, but still need to meet the sustainability goals set out,” D’Adorante highlights.
The overall thought process of the design focused on the use of environmentally-sound materials, acoustics, flexibility, ergonomics, visual comfort, waste management and water/electricity reduction in the appliance/technology used. The engineering teams and various sub-contractors (HVAC, electrical, wet services) aided the process with regard to specifying and systematising all the elements necessary for high internal air quality, lighting, and thermal comfort.
The close collaboration between the architect, client, and professional team, including the Green Star and LEED consultant, guided the process. In addition, main contractor TSK Bartlett also strived to use certified adhesives and sealant products, for example. “We also targeted some elements in the socio-economic category,” D’Adorante reveals.
For example, the demountable and glazing supplier sent out specialised technicians from Europe to train the local installation teams on its bespoke products, and their installation, maintenance, and functionality. Additional specialised training included the ceiling contractors on the high-performance ceiling materials used.
Functional spaces include a publicly-accessible Ground Floor with a health-focused work café and digital exhibition centre, collaboration zones, and outdoor collaboration area. The restricted-access first floor is devoted to permanent tenanting, and incorporates agile workspaces and a fully-equipped GE Africa Healthcare training centre. The top floor includes a flexible learning and development centre, collaboration rooms, and multi-disciplinary laboratory. The basement parking includes, showers, bicycles and green leaf vehicles.
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Ready to commute in style? BMW just unveiled a futuristic, zero-emission motorbike at the Concorso D’eleganza Villa D’este, showing us what the motorcycle of the future looks like. Modeled after the BMW Motoradd Vision Next 100, the design is both sleek and functional and is perfect for those who want to get around in urban settings in a sustainable way.
The BMW Motorrad Concept Link may look like a scooter, but it is anything but. The motorbike has a low-slung, stretched body with a flat seat and, according to the company, “is ideally suited to meet the requirements of modern urban mobility with fast acceleration and easy handling.”
Getting on the electric bike is easy due to its low overall height. Additionally, a reverse gear ensures it is easy to maneuver and park in tight city spaces. Clear lines, large-area surfaces, and precise shapes play a part in emphasizing the bike’s state-of-the-art look. All colors are oriented diagonally to underline the dynamic potential of the ride. A touch of futurism is added to the bike with iconic LEC front lights, a clear-cut layout, and slim contours.
A feature that sets the BMW Motorrad Concept Link apart from other motorbikes is the fact that information such as speed, remaining charge, and navigation information is projected right onto the windscreen. If one desires, they can swap out the windscreen for alternate versions with different options. There is also a secondary display below the handlebars that offers touchscreen input. The handlebars also have built-in touch sensitive controls that ensure easy access to favorite features while commuting.
Architecture firm Swisatec just announced plans to build a self-contained “Green Village” in Cape Town, South Africa that will be completely car-free and powered by solar energy. Taking up approximately 40 hectares of land, the village will contain 1,000 apartment units, as well as all the amenities its residents need to conduct their daily business, including doctors’ offices, boutiques, schools, and more.
The new Blue Rock Village isn’t going to be developed completely from scratch: instead, it’s an upgrade of the existing Blue Rock Resort, set beside an iconic Cape Town lake at a former quarry site. While cars won’t be needed to travel through the Village, residents still need to find a way to get there – it’s a half-hour drive to Cape Town proper. The development will include underground parking for residents, tucking their cars out of sight until they need to travel.
The apartments available range from one to four bedrooms, and will be made completely from eco-friendly and nontoxic materials. All appliances will be A++ rated energy efficient, and the units will be lit throughout with LEDs. The buildings even include features to manage water usage and will be able to run on self-generated solar power. Swisatec estimates the project will cost a staggering 14 billion rand, or $900 million US. Construction will start in September 2016.
How is 3D software transforming the architecture industry?
3D software is beneficial to both the process of design and the representation of design to clients and other stakeholders.
The historic 2D representation of architectural concepts is difficult for many clients to imagine as built liveable space. Scaled physical models, which supplemented 2D drawings, provided a better understanding of the form and general aesthetic of the building, however, 3D digital software represents architecture at the human scale. A person can now walk through a building or view it on the site as he/she would in the real built form.
For architects and designers, 3D software provides opportunities to engage with architecture “inside-out”, exploring spatial interconnections in volume. The scales of experience and grades of intimacy between user and space are unlimited, thereby enhancing the development of place through socio-spatial interaction, which all good architecture aspires to.
Do you believe this is a trend which is set to grow and why?
This trend has been growing ever since inception. The demand for high quality 3D software is on the increase. This has driven the continuous development of 3D software packages which has seen new/revised versions being released in short time. Software developers have grasped this opportunity although market competition is high.
Is the cost not prohibitive or is this coming down – is this perhaps a factor in its adoption at the moment?
Cost does not seem to be prohibitive as the vast majority of architectural practices are using 3D software. There are “Lite” versions of software at lesser cost, with obviously fewer possibilities and options. Student versions are a fraction of the cost of the full versions and this exposes young practitioners to 3D software. A significant number of these students move on to set up private practices which then purchase licensed versions of software for commercial use.
How is 3D technology being used today by architects, what are some of the more innovative ideas and solutions?
Some of the more organic or amorphous architectural forms, which are near impossible to achieve through 2D drawings or physical modelling, become possible with 3D modelling. Many internationally acclaimed, award-winning architects rely heavily on 3D software for design development. Nowadays, 3D software affords interdisciplinary interfaces with engineering and construction software, which can translate ambitious and innovative design forms and structures into working drawings, details and ultimately, production / construction.
What are the implications of this technology for the industry in SA?
3D software has to translate into Building Information Modelling (BIM), in order to realise idea / concept as built form; this is what will transform practise in South Africa, especially in the SMME sector. Computer technology has literally shrunken the office footprint and the one-person practise becomes much more possible. Access to the profession and business is therefore easier, which is of particular importance to transformation in a volatile, growing economy.
Any other thoughts?
3D software and digital technology has to be harnessed and exploited to the fullest in order to benefit practices in the SMME sector. Technology has redefined the concept of the office or studio as well as access to resources. Mobility and connection is the way of professional business today – a computer with the relevant software and wifi is all that may be required to run a sustainable practise. The office and library have largely become virtual spaces, while the coffee shop has taken the place of meeting room. All this is to the credit of computer and digital technologies.
Norway’s mixed-use Barcode district is no stranger to eye-catching architecture. As part of a redevelopment plan for Oslo’s post-industrial harbor, Dark created the DnB West-Building, a glass-and-granite office building terraced and topped with accessible green roofs. The sequence of terraces creates the appearance of a giant staircase and is designed to allow sunlight to pass into the neighboring apartment building.
The West Building was completed as part of DnB’s three-building headquarters, a competition-winning design that Dark created in collaboration with MVRDV and A-Lab. Each firm was responsible for a different part of the building trio. Dark’s 15-story office building accommodates 600 occupants and is connected to the other two DnB buildings through an underground concourse that houses meeting rooms, a canteen, and other communal spaces. Above ground, the DnB West Building features street-level shops, food vendors, and other retail spaces. Offices are stacked atop the commercial properties, while a penthouse restaurant sits at the apex of the building and is accessible via an inclined elevator open to the public.
Each “tread” of the stair-like building is topped with a large roof terrace, while each “riser” features a double-height glazed common room. The landscaped terraces help retain water and include timber seating that overlooks south-facing views of the Oslo Fjord.
Imagine a city rising from a lush bamboo forest, but this city uses no concrete and no steel; it doesn’t stick out of the forest, so much as blend in. This is the vision presented by penda, a Chinese and Austrian design firm, at Beijing Design Week this year. By 2023, penda claims, a city housing 20,000 people could be built entirely from their modular bamboo construction system, free to grow in every direction as the need arises.
The system uses no nails or screws – the bamboo is tied together with ropes – leaving the bamboo cane undamaged so it can be reused in other constructions. All of the materials in penda’s bamboo city are completely recyclable, allowing the city to rise and fall with minimal harm to the environment.
According to penda’s press release, “The project describes a true ecological approach of growth, which leaves no harm on the surrounding environment nor on the building material itself and is, therefore, a counter-movement to a conventional way of the present construction process.”
The bamboo city takes its construction materials from the bamboo forest where it lies. Since bamboo has a rapid growth cycle, the architects envision a never-ending supply of building materials, wherein two new bamboo trees are planted for every one that is removed. The system can grow to house 20 families within nine months, panda states, and as new families arrive, new modular buildings, including communal spaces, bridges and even floating structures, can be added in any direction. By 2023, they picture a city of 20,000 people nestled in 250 acres of bamboo forest.
As a proof of concept, penda created a bamboo pavilion at Beijing Design Week. During the event, visitors were invited to plant seeds into baskets which were then attached to the pavilion. The plants will grow along the bamboo structure, allowing nature to take over the design process where architecture leaves off.
Research worldwide shows that environmentally-friendly buildings are much better for the health of the people who live and work in them, as well as for the Earth.
Buildings that are designed to cut water and energy use and make as little impact on the surrounding environment as possible make life much better for their occupants too.
Studies into 69,000 buildings − homes, offices and factories − in 150 countries show that there are fewer illnesses among residents and workers, who report they are more comfortable and happier. Employers also find they are more productive.
Companies that opt for “green” buildings gain because workers stay longer in their jobs and have fewer absences, while recruitment is easier because new employees are attracted to environmentally-friendly buildings.
Dr. Joseph Allen and fellow environmental health researchers at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in the US studied reports from across the world into the effect of green buildings on the health of the occupants. Fifteen studies are incorporated into the review, published in the journal Current Environmental Health Reports.
There are now 3.5 billion square feet (0.325 sq metres) of certified green building space available worldwide, and researchers in many different countries have been measuring the effects to see if these buildings are also “ healthier” buildings.
“Overall, the initial scientific evidence indicates better indoor environmental quality in green buildings versus non-green buildings, with direct benefits to human health for occupants of those buildings,” Allen says.
Occupants of green buildings are in general more satisfied with the indoor air quality, their workspace, building cleanliness, and maintenance in general, he adds.
The research measured internal air quality, light, noise and the presence of chemicals that might adversely affect health, as well as asking the people who live and work in them about their experience.
The information is important for future building design because, as the researchers point out, modern humans spend 90 per cent of their time indoors.
To gauge the effect on health and well-being, the scientists looked at many studies that had taken into account factors that influence health − including radiological, chemical, biological and physical aspects of indoor environmental hazards.
They looked at air quality, ventilation, filtration, lighting and acoustics, and studied the architecture, the quality of the canteens, access to natural light, and the building’s surroundings.
In residential buildings, there were fewer asthma and other respiratory illnesses among children, and across all green buildings there fewer cases of sick building syndrome symptoms, with better physical and mental health all round.
The one area that did not score better was acoustics, with several studies reporting lower satisfaction about noise levels.
Where hospitals had been constructed as green buildings, the researchers found a better quality of care for patients. In one study, there were 70 per cent fewer blood stream infections, improved record keeping, and overall patient mortality fell by 11 per cent − although the scientists were unable to pinpoint what factors produced such a startling improvement.