Construction work has started on Deloitte Africa headquarters at Waterfall City, Midrand with a sod-turning ceremony onsite.
The project is set to cost in excess of 1 billion South African Rand.
The 42,500m2 ultra‐modern offices are expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020, and Deloitte plans to begin operating from its new base from April 2020.
Atterbury, a leading South African property investment and development business, and JSE‐listed premier property company, Attacq, are co‐owners in a 50/50 joint venture on the development of the new Deloitte premises.
Atterbury CEO Louis van der Watt believes that their deep understanding of Deloitte’s operational business needs will ensure the project’s success in the years ahead.
“Deloitte’s new offices will see them enjoy an excellent position in the sought‐after location of Waterfall, Gauteng. Here, they will consolidate their operations in the region in a central location. This development will not only provide Deloitte with room to grow as a business, but also be an asset that supports them in attracting new talent and continuing to serve their expanding market,” said Mr Watt.
Mike Jarvis, chief operating officer at Deloitte Africa, said they were excited about their new custom-designed headquarters for Deloitte Africa in what is clearly a sought-after corporate destination.
“This new centre of operation gears our Africa Firm to attract the best talent, serve our expanding market, and consolidate approximately 3700 of our people to make an even greater impact with our clients and communities,” Jarvis said.
Deloitte Africa headquarters features
The building, which will enjoy prime positioning alongside the Allandale interchange of the N1 highway, has space capacity for close to 5,000 people and promises Deloitte prominent highway frontage at the eastern side of Waterfall City as well as its clients and talent easy and quick access to its premises.
The Deloitte Africa headquarters consists of a ground floor with six stories of offices and four basement parking levels including nearly 2,000 parking bays.
Architecture practice Aevitas designed the new Deloitte headquarters to comply with a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Rating on completion.
Image source: atterbury
The Institute for Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA), South Africa’s professional body for the engineered timber construction industry, issues a notice on compliance of laminated timber beams to be used for structural purposes.
NOTE: All laminated timber beams must comply with the minimum requirements outlined in SANS 1460: Laminated Timber. Further to this, all laminated timber beams are to be clearly stamped by the supplier, indicating the grade and the relevant accredited authority.
It is a requirement in terms of SANS 10163 ‘The Structural use of Timber’ and the National Building Regulations, SANS 10400, that all structural timber comply with the relevant product specification. The only way to demonstrate this is by means of certification by an ISO 17065-accredited certification body or by means of a registered structural engineer. There shall be recorded evidence of controls to support this, i.e. type and classification of structural adhesive and approval certificate of each batch, test results of the MOR (bending stress) and MOE (stiffness), grade classification, and markings, to name a few.
It is the responsibility of architects and engineers to call for certified structural timber, the relevant inspectors to ensure compliance, and design engineers, architects and truss manufacturers to specify products they can trust.
Making use of laminated timber products for structural purposes without the necessary certification and backing amounts to irresponsible business – and building – practice. The ITC-SA urges the trade and public to make use of structural timber from the formal trade and that bears the necessary marks.
Visit www.itc-sa.org/laminated-timber-viable-structural-applications/ to read more about laminated timber’s viability for use in structural applications.
For more information, visit www.itc-sa.org.
What is a green home?
The simple answer is a green home is one that has been built, remodeled, or retrofitted to meet higher standards than conventional construction, with the goal of achieving healthier, more resource-efficient, more cost-effective homes that enhance the lives and experiences the people who live in them.
Generally there is independent, third party verification to document that standards have been met or exceeded. This verification serves as the basis for certification of green homes and provides valuable information for consumers, helping in comparison shopping and decision-making.
There are several organizations that have developed standards for green building and development. Certification by any of these organizations is strong evidence that the home is built or remodeled to higher standards. Here are some of the most widely known and recognized green home standards.
Leader in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED certification is available for construction and remodeling of commercial buildings, schools and other institutional buildings, homes and neighborhoods.
Energy Star is another set of standards that are widely recognized. Energy Star-certified homes must meet specific standards for energy efficiency, water conservation, and for Indoor air quality and health.
The National Green Building Standard (NGBS) was developed by the National Association of Home Builders. It is the first residential green building standard to undergo the full consensus process and receive approval from the American National Standards Institute.
There are other organizations offering green building certification, many of which are regional or statewide, such as the Build Green New Mexico Standards, largely adapted from the U.S. Home Builders Association standards.
Generally speaking, consumers can feel confident that a “green certified” home does indeed meet higher standards and offers specific, documentable benefits to the homeowner and residents of the home.
Does that mean a home without certification can’t be a green home? Absolutely not! I have worked with many people who have sought to make their homes healthier and more comfortable, enjoyable, energy and resource efficient, and cost effective. Every action taken to enhance these attributes of a home, in my estimation, makes a home more “green.”
There are generally six areas, or attributes, of homes in which standards are established for “green homes,” and in which improvements can be made.
Location: We all know real estate is all about “location, location, location”. But it’s not just status people are looking for today in location – people are choosing neighborhoods based on how they want to live and where they want to spend most of their time. For some, that means being in natural settings with open spaces and views. Others are choosing locations convenient to their jobs, schools, and daily activities that are important to them. The U.S. Green Building Council has developed standards for neighborhood development based on the following questions:
Is your local grocery store within walking distance, and is there a sidewalk for you to trek there safely?
Does your neighborhood boast high-performing green buildings, parks and green space?
Do bikes, pedestrians and vehicles play nicely together on the road?
These questions are becoming increasingly important for people of all ages and in all areas of the country.
Design: We humans spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors. It makes sense that time should be spent in spaces that make us happy, allow us to breathe easily, give us views of nature, bring in plenty of daylight, and make us healthier and more productive. Trends are showing increasing preference for smaller but better designed homes – this means architectural and interior design are becoming increasingly important for better living.
Energy efficiency and renewable energy: Energy efficiency and cost effectiveness rank high with today’s buyers. Buyers are looking at the monthly cost of home ownership rather than the overall price or price per square foot of the home. Most understand utility costs are a significant and growing part of their monthly cost of home ownership, and that an energy-efficient green home with low utility bills can be less costly to own on a month to month basis than a conventional home. Today, renewable energy (usually in the form of solar power) is a top priority for many homeowners. It has proven easy, reliable and cost effective. And, it adds value to a home.
Water efficiency: This is an aspect of green homes that is gaining in popularity throughout the country, and most especially in our desert Southwest.
Indoor air quality: Poor indoor air in our homes can result in a variety of issues, including irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, allergies, respiratory problems, and other, often serious, health problems. Many people aren’t even aware the materials used in conventional homes often put out harmful gases. Poorly constructed homes often have moisture problems that can lead to mold and other problems. Poorly maintained heating and cooling systems can compromise indoor air quality.
Materials and resources: Reusing old materials such as brick, wood flooring, beams, windows, etc., is a really cool way to be “green.” There are more recycled and renewable materials available today, giving people maximum choices to express their taste and be green at the same time. One of the most sustainable choices people can make is to makeover an existing home. That’s reusing and recycling at its best.
A home doesn’t have to be certified, nor does it have to address all six of these areas to be green. Bringing a home to higher standards in even one of these areas can a difference. Whether “green certified,” or just “green improved,” what is important is that the improvements are in line with the goals and priorities of the people who live in the home.
OSVehicle hopes Tabby Evo electric car, which can be built in an hour, will be embraced by aid agencies and universities, among others.
In the chaos that ensues after a natural disaster, getting vehicles to aid workers for transporting refugees and supplies can be impossible as roads are frequently blocked. An alternative, says Yuki Liu, chief operating officer of the car design firm OSVehicle, is to airlift them in sections and construct them on the ground.
The idea is unworkable in the case of a standard car or 4×4 but possibly not for the Tabby Evo, an electric vehicle that can be shipped in parts and put together in an hour.
The Tabby Evo is the latest version of a “platform” car, which provides the bare bones of an electric vehicle – including the frame, suspension, steering systems, brakes, seats and wheels – on which companies, relief agencies and universities among others, can build and tweak their own vehicle by adding doors, interiors and a shell.
The skeleton cars were created by Yuki’s brother, Tin Hang Liu, and OSVehicle wants them to be an easier route into the automotive industry. This would end the need for years of research and development and hundreds of millions of pounds in investment. Along with vehicles for aid agencies, the company is working on projects where fleets are used for car-sharing or as delivery vehicles for packages.
Yuki said: “We started to think about how to change automotives because it is the most complex industrial product that has not changed for [some] time. Our background in automotives made us understand that there was a lot of need for innovation there because everything was still made in the same way.”
Tin and Yuki, who were both born and raised in Italy, followed their father into the motor industry. They soon became interested in the idea of circular economies, in which resources are kept in use for as long as possible. In 2008, Tin was working in Silicon Valley when he came in contact with open-source hardware – designs for machines and devices that have been publicly released. He applied the principles to cars, where one vehicle would be able to achieve a number of functions.
The Tabby Evo is the second version of the skeleton car. Available with two or four seats, the bare vehicle is charged from a plug socket and has a range of 75 miles (120km) , depending on the type of body attached to it, said Yuki. The maximum speed is 80mph (130kmh), but this can be capped at a lower number depending again on what it is being used for.
When a company buys fleets of the vehicles – the minimum is 200 – they design the final vehicle and then buy and fit the seats, doors and other components separately. Batches of more than 500 four-seater vehicles cost just under $5,000 (£3,500) each, although this price increases if fewer are ordered, according to the company’s chief finance officer, Alberto Loddo.
He said: “To make a new car model from scratch, you would need five to seven years and $100m to $200m. With our platform, we want to shorten that to one and a half to three years, depending on the complexity of the vehicle, and to $3m to $20m.”
An alternative is to download the designs for free from the OSVehicle website, in line with the open-source principle on which the company was founded. The motoring industry, which was previously the domain of a small number of established firms, has welcomed several new entrants in recent years. Apple has discussed plans for an autonomous vehicle with California’s department of motor vehicles, while Google’s self-driving car has also been developed.
The OSVehicle units consist of parts that can be easily swapped without throwing away other working parts, which expands the vehicle’s lifespan, said Yuki. Its core unit contains the most complex parts of a vehicle, which means it is stable and ready to use, she added. Loddo compares it to the Android operating system for mobile phones, where developers can freely access the software as a base on which to build apps.
He said: “The automotive world and the tech world are merging but the only thing is that the automotive world is very slow and big, and not so fast to adapt to change.”
The aim is to remove barriers for entry to the market for smaller companies, which can build different designs on one core vehicle. The two-seat version is comparable to a Smart car, and the four-seater to a Mini Cooper, Loddo added.
The company makes money by selling the vehicles and also by designing and engineering final products for firms that want to make new vehicles using the platform. So far, 10 projectsare in development, ranging from fleets of hundreds to those with thousands of cars, although the exact details are under wraps. A two-seater car by an Italian IT company using its own information and entertainment system will be launched in June. Yuki says she expects to see the first vehicles on the roads next year.
Several projects are being developed in the Aquitaine region of France, including a car-sharing scheme, a delivery scheme and an agricultural programme, which is supported by the regional council.
Among the more bizarre ideas are vehicles that could navigate the surface of Mars or ones that could fly. More realistic suggestions have come from small islands that would benefit from the easy transportation of the parts, said Yuki.
Hotel chains are looking into whether fleets of electric vehicles could be used to transport tourists around Mediterranean islands. Future plans include developing the vehicles to saloon, 4×4 and mini-van sizes. “We are giving the possibility of new vehicles for a niche market,” Yuki said.
Shepherd wagons of yore were homes that sheepherders brought along on their travels. We’ve seen contemporary variations of these to converted shepherd’s wagonscovered with canvas and actually used as rustic living spaces. Ontario-based Canadian builder Güte (previously) constructed this lovely specimen that seems to be a cross between a shepherd’s wagon, a camper and modernist tiny home. Dubbed the Collingwood, it sports rounded surfaces and nice, clean wooden surfaces inside.
Fully insulated all around and waterproofed, it appears that the weatherproof character of original sheep wagons was one of the major design influences, say the designers:
We built the Collingwood shepherd hut without clear distinctions of where the walls become the floor or roof of this shepherd hut. It is wrapped in and organic shell that fulfills the functions of all three of these important traditional structural elements. We wrapped the roof all the way around the Collingwood in a fluid wooden framed structure that sheds off every kind of bad weather. The exterior shell is fully insulated with batt insulation and waterproofed using the best ice and water shield. We use a combination of two types of roof cladding which will keep the weather out for a lifetime.
There are thermal-paned windows that open, a solid oak dutch door, cast-iron wheels, traditional cast-iron push hardware and brass window locks, cedar shingles and steel roof cladding. It has two electrical outlets, and can be plugged in via the exterior. But there’s a lot of camper-ish inspirations here too, as evidenced by the classic dining-table-turns-into-bed gambit.
The 15-foot Collingwood can fit a whole family, thanks to the bunk bed off to the other side of the space, which has yet another roll-out storage platform tucked underneath, which could probably double as yet another bed. There’s a wall unit that hosts storage and a fold-down table as well.
With no built-in bathroom or kitchen, this is a pretty basic setup priced for USD $23,098. But the meticulous craftsmanship and interesting hybrid design may be worth it for those who want to live the modern shepherd lifestyle.
Left behind tents are a big problem at music festivals, particularly because of the massive amounts of landfill-bound waste they create. Fortunately, however, one Dutch startup believes they have the solution: the KarTent. Made from 100% recyclable cardboard, this sturdy and lightweight tent is comfortable, easy to set up, and even easier to recycle.
While our ideal festivalgoer reuse their tents, the designers behind KarTent recognize that some people may only need a tent for one-time use. According to the startup, one in four festival visitors leave their tents behind at the event. Kartent’s temporary cardboard solution is a tent sturdy enough to stay dry for three days guaranteed—the average length of a music festival—and can comfortably house two people with room for storage. Each tent ships flat-pack, weighs 0.6 kilograms, and has a 3.3-square-meter floor plan.
Besides its lightweight and recyclable footprint, the KarTent also has the advantage of customizable design. The team at KarTent can print anything from sponsored messages to personal drawings onto the tent facade. The company is currently working on creating a larger design this year that can accommodate four people instead of two.
When structural engineer Jignesh Goyani started developing his affordable housing project, Kesar City, at Moriaya village in Sanand – the satellite town on the outskirts of Ahmedabad – three years ago, he decided to go all green. While the apartments are small – at 33 sq metres – with the cheapest costing as little as Rs 5.4 lakh, the project is equipped with the whole ‘sustainable’ shebang: lighting controls, form construction, sun-dried fly ash bricks, sewage treatment plant, optimal daylight use and solar for street and common lighting, low-flow faucets and fixtures, biogas from sewage and daily green waste, and green landscapes irrigated by porous pipes. Kesar is as kosher as any high-end green building.
Developed in collaboration with Ahmedabad-based firms Aroma Realty and Kesar Buildcon – all working in the affordable housing niche using low-cost green technologies – the first lot of 1,200 homes is now being handed over to their owners. And who are they? Popcorn sellers, tea vendors, restaurant waiters and money transfer kiosk operators, among others, most of whom earn between Rs 330 and Rs 1,000 a day. “Almost all our customers are from the unorganised market,” says Goyani.
Housing for this segment does not find it easy to get bank finance; hence the project developers had no option but to keep costs to the minimum – even for sustainable technologies. That meant doing without green building certification by the Indian Green Building Council’s (IGBC) rating standard, which would have ratcheted up the project cost by another Rs 25 lakh. “Anything that adds to the cost of these homes, including certification, is not for us,” says Goyani. He is certain that, had he applied, the project would have easily made the cut for IGBC’s silver certification, if not gold. “About 80 per cent of our design and technology solutions beat the parameters prescribed by any green rating standard,” he says.
Instead, Goyani is working with Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) software, a low-cost green building certification system developed for 100 emerging economies by the International Finance Corporation. Based on a mind-boggling database of local utility costs and climate in different cities, this free software suggests customised resource-efficient solutions right at the design stage to reduce operational expenses and environmental impact. In order to qualify for the EDGE certification, a building must achieve at least 20 per cent saving in energy, water and construction resources over conventional practices. Kesar City is also on the shortlist of pilot projects the National Housing Bank is assessing for technical assistance under the UK government’s Department of International Development (DFID) funding for innovative pilot projects.
Goyani’s project underscores how the once-elitist market for green buildings – those which make efficient use of energy, water and construction material – is percolating down to the very lowest. A green building movement is under way in the country. Until recently, it mostly meant designing high-end commercial and corporate office spaces, or building energy-efficient hospitals and hotels, in tier II towns at best. There were also the bespoke residences of select affluent and niche clientele.
Driven by cost savings for home owners, and responding to the incentives offered by state governments, an increasing number of developers are greening their residential portfolio. Features like rainwater harvesting, outdoor window shades, energy-efficient electrical fixtures and waste treatment plants are helping economise resource consumption. Even existing home owners are opting for retrofits as a smart investment option. “It is not enough to ascertain how structurally sound a building is; it is also important to see how well it will perform,” says Aalok Deshmukh, energy efficiency expert, Schneider Electric India.
Low-cost green housing projects need to be rolled out quickly in high volumes with minimal design typologies to be feasible. Residential developers such as Tata Housing Development Co and Value Budget Housing Corporation, whose raison d’être is large-scale housing, are thus developing a green template for all their standard offerings, which can be scaled up in little time. Other developers like Lotus Green and Biodiversity Conservation India Ltd (BCIL) – also known as the ZED Group for its zero-energy driven solutions – have got into realty to focus primarily on green development.
Importantly, with the real estate sector facing recessionary pressure and unsold inventories piling up in recent months, the business case for developing differentiated projects by building green is stronger than ever before. Developers have realised that green certification helps attract more customers and investors. Godrej Properties, Raheja Developers, the Hiranandani group, Ansal Properties, MARG group, SARE Homes, Emaar MGF and Gaursons India are only some of the prominent players building certified green homes in recent years.
“Over the last year or so, realtors have grown to understand the importance of sustainable development,” says Brotin Banerjee, Managing Director and CEO of Tata Housing Development Co. The company has 6.5 million square metres of housing in different stages of execution in all consumer segments, from value to luxury, all of which will be certified green. All the company’s housing projects have no less than IGBC’s gold certification. Value and Budget Housing Corporation (VBHC) is developing over 3,000 EDGE-certified homes across Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Bhiwadi. Almost all its houses are in the affordable segment, predominantly comprising apartments priced between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 30 lakh. SARE Homes is developing six projects adding up to 5,000 homes across Amritsar, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Chennai.
“The green building movement is well entrenched and people are set to demand energy efficient buildings the same way they demand star-rated air-conditioners,” says P. Sahel, Vice Chairman, Lotus Greens. The company is developing four projects in Gurgaon and Noida over the next three years, all of which will have a Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) certification (an alternative to IGBC). BCIL, an early green builder with a presence in Bangalore, Mysore and Chennai – all of whose projects since 2003 have platinum certification – is currently building 2,000 green certified apartments and villas. Around 40 per cent of BCIL’s homes are priced under Rs 15 lakh and another 50 per cent in the Rs 30 lakh- 50 lakh segment. Only the remaining 10 per cent is priced between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 80 lakh.
All of Gaursons India’s residential projects over the last three years have been in the certified green category. The company is aiming for IGBC’s gold certification for three of its upcoming projects on Delhi’s outskirts – Gaurcity I, Gaurcity II and Gaur Yamuna City. Managing Director Manoj Gaur heads the Delhi-NCR chapter of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI). “More than half the 200-plus members of the Delhi-NCR chapter are now developing green projects,” he says.
India had only around 1,850 sq metres of certified commercial green floor space in 2001, which rose to 22 million sq metres by 2008. The first residential green rating standard was launched in May that year. Seven years later, India has around 325 million sq metres of registered green floor space, both pre-certified and certified, across all categories – commercial, residential, hospitals, hotels and factories. Real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle said in a report in July that projects registered with the IGBC have grown incrementally at a compound annual growth rate of over 50 per cent in the past 10 years – the highest year-on-year growth anywhere in the world. In July, the US Green Building Council ranked India third on its annual ranking of the Top 10 countries outside the US that are making significant strides in sustainable building design, construction and transformation – next only to Canada and China.
Deshmukh of Schneider India goes on to say, “The single largest certified green floor space outside the US would be in India.” Chandrashekar Hariharan, Chairman, BCIL, and co-author of IGBC’s residential green guidelines, agrees. “In a decade’s time, we are set to outstrip the US, currently the world’s largest green market,” he adds.
The potential is indeed enormous. Green floor space accounts for only 3-5 per cent of all construction in India so far. In developed markets like the UK, where green building began almost two decades ago, around 40 per cent of all buildings would fall in that category. “In the US, it would be around 30 per cent,” says Prashant Kapoor, IFC Green Buildings’ specialist and founder of EDGE. By 2030, green building penetration in India is expected to reach 10 per cent or around 1.5 billion sq metres.
Mandatory Compliance Awaited
Green building construction and certification is growing at a scorching pace, despite the fact that it has not yet been fully mandated by legislation. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency, an arm of the Ministry of Power, announced the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) in May 2007. The Code mandates certain minimum energy performance standards for buildings and recommends many more. (For example, it prescribes that 20 per cent of all hot water requirement is to be met by solar energy.) But, it is still largely voluntary and applies only to commercial buildings, not residential ones.
The responsibility for enforcing it rests with state governments and local urban bodies, which do not have the wherewithal for implementation. “State governments also have the flexibility to modify the code to suit local or regional needs and notify it,” says Sanjay Seth, energy economist at the BEE. Once the notification for the mandatory adoption of the code is in place, the provisions have to be integrated into the municipal by-laws to enable enforcement.
Seven states and one union territory – Pondicherry – have notified the ECBC so far: Rajasthan, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. Another 23 states and union territories are at various stages of implementing it, which will take mandatory compliance almost countrywide. “Most states are expected to come up with the statutory regulation by end-2015,” says Seth. The national implementation of ECBC is expected to transform the market through enforced demand.
But, in the meantime, some of the other states and urban development bodies have begun offering myriad incentives. Haryana, Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra and parts of Uttar Pradesh (the development authorities of Noida, Greater Noida and the Yamuna Expressway), allow an additional 5 per cent floor area ratio (FAR – a measure of the built-up area of a plot) for buildings certified green. The development authorities of Ghaziabad and Delhi have proposed the same. Kerala and Bhubaneswar city also allow some extra FAR in green buildings. West Bengal has even announced raising the FAR to 10 per cent. Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are considering providing a similar carrot.
Among other incentives are fast-tracked construction permits for green buildings being offered by Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Maharashtra also has an energy efficiency financing programme, providing credit guarantee for half the green project cost. Buildings using solar or wind power are allowed to be built higher than their conventional counterparts in Pune. Punjab has mandated that every roof measuring more than 465 square metres should be used for solar energy generation. Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, too, are considering some stimulus for residential solar. The Department of Renewable Energy in Haryana bears 50 per cent of energy audit costs.
The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation in Maharashtra offers a rebate of up to 15 per cent on property tax for green buildings, and up to 50 per cent on premium for builders who get their projects GRIHA-certified. The urban local bodies of Nashik and Navi Mumbai in Maharashtra, and Noida in UP, have proposed property tax discounts based on the level of green certification achieved. Hyderabad has suggested monetary incentives for architects designing GRIHA-rated green buildings. Punjab is developing a draft adaptation of ECBC even for large residential buildings.
Buildings guzzle more than a third of the country’s energy resources at present. Savings on green buildings can be a staggering 25-30 per cent from day one. As Schneider India’s Deshmukh says, “When done right, or when incorporated at the design stage, there is no additional cost of building green.” In fact, a green building pays for itself through the savings accruing from energy efficiency, and premium developers can charge on such construction. Given that floor space will triple by 2030, the case for driving resource efficiency couldn’t be more compelling. According to one estimate, mandatory ECBC implementation across the country could lead to an annual energy saving of about 1.7 billion kWh. At the very least, this means an annual saving of Rs 600 crore in energy cost. A McKinsey India report has projected that by 2030, India could save an estimated Rs 90,000 crore ($14 billion) per year by investing in energy efficiency.
Building activity is relatively low in developed markets where most of the infrastructure is already in place. India has seen only one-third of its built space come up yet. According to global think tank Global Buildings Performance Network, the energy demand from building in India will grow by 70 per cent by 2050, for which an estimated 900 new power stations fired by fossil fuels will be required. Going green couldn’t have been a bigger and more pressing opportunity.
Commissions on R700m worth of projects is not a bad start for a brand new architectural practice launched in Cape Town this month by two UCT graduates that began their careers 14 years ago and have now left the shadows of the grand old names they have been working for to go it alone.
The five significant projects are the new Citadel Investment Bank in Claremont (R200m,) a new hotel in Ghana for Tsogo Sun (R200m,) a Holiday Inn in KwaZulu-Natal (R125m,) a boutique hotel in Green Point, Cape Town (R100m) and a new residential tower in the Cape Town city centre (R75m.)
Robert Silke has been known as senior partner and heir-apparent at Louis Karol Architects (LKA,) which made its mark with the monolithic central city buildings of the 60s and 70s that still stand today as some of the tallest structures in the Cape Town CBD.
As creative director, Silke repositioned the practice as a design force between 2000 and 2010, with his major urban interventions such as Mutual Heights for Old Mutual in 2004, a residential conversion that catalysed the turnaround of Cape Town CBD, and The Point for HCI & Berman Bros in 2014 in Sea Point, which similarly experienced a rejuvenation sparked by the project.
Robert McGiven also chose big names to raise his profile and was a key member of two top South African architectural firms, Noero Wolff, Cape Town, for whom he job-captained Port Elizabeth’s award-winning Red Location apartheid museum, and Mashabane Rose of Johannesburg, where he worked on the historic urban regeneration project at Newtown Junction for Atterbury. He also worked on the infrastructure for a sustainable diamond mine in Sierra Leone.
Reconnecting now after their parallel studies at UCT and uncrossed career paths in the past 14 years, Silke and McGiven decided to join forces in their new practice, Robert Silke and Partners. They are presently fitting out their new offices on the top floor of the Waalburg Building in Wale Street.
The choice of Waalburg as headquarters connects with one of Robert Silke’s hallmark architectural commissions as designer of the former Old Mutual headquarters conversion into a residential development in Darling Street.
Mutual Heights as it is now known shared its origins with Waalburg as the original work of famous Cape architects Louw and Louw. Now Silke and McGiven are converting the traditional law practice offices they will occupy into the creative space of their architectural firm.
“The leap of faith has paid off and immediately major new projects have come our way,” says Silke.
The partnership has been appointed architectural design consultant for the Citadel building, which Silke originally designed at LKA, and which will occupy the former Boardmans site in Claremont. The appointment provides a means for him to complete work started at his old firm. They have also been appointed as interior designers and space planners for the 6,000m2 internal fit-out.
“I want to design buildings that matter,” says Silke, who describes himself as a public architect interested in buildings on a city scale. He has never designed a house, “though I would not turn down the opportunity to make something beautiful.”
Now, with their new partnership, Silke and McGiven want to expand on the changing scenario of the City. “I think that we’re only now coming to terms with the spatial damage suffered by South African cities in the 20th century, as well as the brutality of our modern built environment,” says Silke. “Commercial developers know that they have a role to play in turning our cities around. I’ve hardly ever met a developer who doesn’t dream of making the city a better place.”
“Commercial buildings have to provide economic returns, and once a client knows that his architect is looking after his return, then you’d be surprised at the social magnanimity and largesse that can follow.”
“In that way we see ourselves as libertarian architects, fiscally conservative and socially progressive.”
Silke has a pragmatic attitude to doing business as an architect in uncertain economic times and says, “I think we’re coming to terms with the fact that we continue to live through a long depression era. And what that means for architecture is that new buildings have to work a lot harder, as developers can’t afford to build the same thing twice. So fashion is out and enduring beauty is in. Spec buildings are passé, and durability is the order of the day. Which is good for the planet and good for architects.”
The partners are looking forward to expanding the practice and already the staff complement has risen to ten.
“It looks like a pair of bloody Y-fronts!” activist poet, Sandile Dikene, complained as the black-and-white image of the winning design for South Africa’s new flag inched from the fax machine. The year was 1994, and Dikene was working with me on Mandela’s election campaign in the run-up to South Africa’s first democratic elections. His reaction to the design, chosen over from 7,000 in a public competition, was a common one at the time. But two decades on, despite the initial luke-warm reception, South Africa’s flag has become an iconic design: an instantly recognizable emblem of the so-called Rainbow Nation.
In many ways South African design mirrors the county’s remarkable recent political history, emerging as it has from turbulent times and international isolation to create a vibrant synthesis of the traditional and modern: the African and the European. “Design reflects the society in which it is practiced and, since South Africa is a very political society, design here reflects a level of social consciousness that is perhaps not seen in other countries,” says Capetoian graphic and web designer, Justin Slack.
During the apartheid years, South African design was dominated by engineering design as well as and industrial design that aimed to replicate European products which could not be imported due sanctions. Design also reflected the inequalities and divisions of the society with designers producing things such as swimming pool cleaners, portable barbeques and camping equipment for the affluent white market whilst the majority population’s needs were largely ignored.
The isolation that resulted from trade and cultural sanctions severely limited the possibilities for South African designers to engage in international creative exchange and many left to seek opportunities overseas. For those who stayed behind isolation had an ironically positive impact helping to foster a degree of independence in the industry as well as removing external competition. With the growing levels of social consciousness in the country designers began to focus on more culturally and geographically appropriate locally designed products.
The unbanning of the ANC in 1990 and the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as President in 1994 marked the start of a dramatic transformation of the country. “There was an explosion of creativity and innovation borne out of necessity and circumstances,” recalls Erica Elk, executive director of the Cape Craft & Design Institute. Those circumstances have not always been easy with one-in-four South Africans unemployed, over a million living in shacks and an estimated 5 million infected with HIV/AIDS.
Figures from the department of trade and industry suggest that South Africa’s craft sub-sector annually provides jobs for approximately 40,000 people through 7,000 small enterprises. Furthermore, government agencies such as the Department of Arts and Culture have launched a number of design initiatives partnering with the South African Fashion Week and non-governmental organisations and design institutes. Initiatives such as the Design Indaba, an annual expo that bills itself as the largest creative conference in Africa, have given the design industry a substantial boost.
The distinction between craft and design has traditionally been a problematic one with an implied division between the educated and the uneducated, the professional and the artisan. Crafts are generally seen as being handmade involving tools rather than machines, whilst design often requires a higher degree of specialized teamwork sometimes involving the separation of conception and production. With one of apartheid’s legacies being a huge disparity in educational opportunities, this division between design and craft has social and political dimensions.
In South Africa there is a substantial degree of overlap between design and craft with traditional materials and methods being incorporated by designers in all fields to create a distinctive synthesis. Indeed South Africa is regarded as a world leader in ‘slow design’, a movement which fuses design and craft in a sustainable way which celebrates diversity and pluralism. “In an African context the overlaps between craft, design and art are obvious,” says Cape Townian designer Heath Nash. “Cultural practice here has morphed due to colonial pressures over time, and in so doing, traditional art/craft/ritual/functional/spiritual/tribal/social/personal spaces have all been mixed together.”
Nash works with galvanised steel and recycled plastic producing a range of re-purposed post-consumer plastic waste products which he calls ‘other people’s rubbish’. He outsources most of his standard products to wire-workers around Cape Town and distributes around the world. “The history of re-use as a typical South African mode of production was inspiring,” says Nash. “I realized that by using the right materials and knowledge – wire and plastic – combined with typically South African skills and contemporary design, a new aesthetic could be created which really spoke to the current South African situation.”
Use of recycled materials is being pioneered by other companies such as Mielie who design and hand-craft a range of handbags and homeware products using recycled materials such as t-shirt fabric and leather off-cuts, coffee bags and billboards. The importance of craft and design as a means of economic empowerment and is also crucial for people like Bishop Tarambawamwe who began his business selling his wire and bead art on the streets. “I would sell at traffic lights but my work became so popular that I started disrupting the flow of traffic and the police kept moving me on,” Tarambawamwe recalls. He now has a company, Master Wires & Bead Craft, that exports internationally.
Casamento is another design house that relies on traditional techniques and materials in their production of handcrafted furniture. Avoiding foam the upholstery they use recycled and natural-fibre alternatives including coir, sisal, raw cotton wadding, horsehair jute webbing, Hessian. They also work with local needle workers, from crochet artists, to knitters and embroiderers who contribute panels for their furniture, as well as work on commissions for their clients. Although the materials used may be traditional, their furniture is playful and creative, blurring the boundaries of fantasy and function.
Wola Nani is an initiative which attempts to use crafts as a way of supporting communities hit hardest by the HIV crisis. Meaning ‘we embrace and develop one another’ in Xhosa, Wola Nani is a non-profit organization providing work to over 40 HIV-positive women giving them a regular and sustainable income with which to support their families. Using popular Xhosa shweshwe designs Wola Nani produces and markets crafts which are sold via mail-order catalogue and through retail shops regionally and worldwide. The organization not only exploits the potential that exists in fair trade stores but also has contracts with stores such as Anthropologie.
“South African design, especially communication and fashion design is alive and very well and competing successfully within the global market,” according to Esme Kruger of Johanesburg’s Design Institute. But the design industry has been hit hard by the recession and although South Africa has experienced a virtually uninterrupted two decade period of economic growth the recent economic down-turn is taking its toll.
Among apartheid’s many legacies was a legacy of bad design that, nearly two decades on, is still manifested in a spatially, socially and racially divided society. Indeed a striking thing about a visit to any South African city is the impact of apartheid town planning with so-called white suburbs, coloured suburbs, Indian suburbs and black townships all dotted separately around the city centres. Despite this legacy the fact that clean air and a healthy environment are inscribed in South Africa’s Constitution has ensured that social development is central to contemporary urban planning and design South Africa. According to urbanist, Edgar Pietersen, South Africa has set itself a very high bar for intervening in the built environment by insisting on sustainable outcomes, meaningful citizen participation and addressing socio-economic imperatives. “This is what makes South Africa a demanding and fascinating laboratory – the imperative to invent and deploy innovative approaches to achieve developmental outcomes in the context of limited resources, vast need and profound natural resource constraints” he explains.
“We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world” says Archbishop Tutu in describing the meaning of ‘ubuntu’, a Bantu philosophy prominent in South Africa. Ubuntu is a founding principle of the new South Africa and can be applied to design in all its forms. The Rainbow Nation does not have a single distinctive design aesthetic and its inter-connectedness that is part of its strength. “One of our competitive advantages in South Africa is our cultural diversity and the myriad influences and styles at play in our creative sector” Erica Elk explains. South Africans and their design may be individualist, distinctive, and unique but they are all part of a much greater whole.
Source: Huffington Post
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By Whitney Hopkins, Vail & New York City
“The more we know of other forms of life, the more we enjoy and respect ourselves…Humanity is exalted not because we are so far above other living creatures, but because knowing them well elevates the very concept of life.” — E.O. Wilson
A recent, satirical New Yorker piece by Andy Borowitz quoted a fictitious resident who blamed scientists “for failing to warn us of the true cost of climate change. They always said that polar bears would starve to death, but they never told us our lawns would look like crap.”
Although this does not represent a real person’s exact feelings, the underlying sentiment sadly has more than a hint of truth. To many people, the impact of a changing environment seems distant and completely separate from our existence until we are directly confronted with the negative results.
Poorly conceived design divides us in urban areas from our wilds and has contributed to seeing nature as something isolated from us. Yet reinvigorating our bond with nature is a challenge architecture and urban design are well placed to address.
Architects and designers have control over our built environment; by changing the way we design cities and buildings to connect to rather than disconnect from nature, we can change our proximity to nature and shift our physical relationship to the environment.
The separation that we have crafted over the centuries through our isolating designs hasn’t come without costs.
Obesity, ADHD, autism, a decline in creativity—these are all connected to a lack of environmental connection.
Unfortunately, this estrangement from nature has not only directly impacted our health, it has impacted our ability to respond to crucial modern challenges, such as climate change, because these dire environmental topics feel removed from us.
“What do we learn from this kind of ‘nowhere’ environment? When living and working in nowhere places becomes normal, it is no wonder that we literally lose some of our sensitivity toward nature.
Through the daily experience of the designed environment, we learn detachment… As nature has receded from our daily lives, it has receded from our
Yet despite putting up physical barriers between nature and us, we still cannot shake our deep tie to and need for other species.
Humans have an ingrained desire to connect. E.O. Wilson describes this impulse in his ‘Biophilia Hypothesis’ in which he explains,
“…When human beings remove themselves from the natural environment, the biophilic learning rules are not replaced by modern versions equally well adapted to artifacts. Instead, they persist from generation to generation. For the indefinite future… urban dwellers will go on dreaming of snakes for reasons they cannot explain.”
We crave connection to the natural world, even if we, individually, have always been seemingly divided from it.
By calling architects and urban designers to ‘Make Nature Visible,’ as Van der Ryn and Cowan request in Ecological Design, we can begin to design places grounded in their own unique environment.
In this way, designers can revive an awareness of the natural systems that affect us and recover place-based knowledge.
The advantages of interacting with and seeing nature are numerous. Beyond technical benefits, feeling the presence of the living world around us elevates the spirit.
Supporting this movement, many architects and urban designers are inventively finding ways to reconnect us with the touch and feel of our wider biological community.
Photo credit: Thorbjõrn Hansen
Schools that get children outside into natural places find that their students perform better academically (this has proven especially true for low-income students) and are more engaged and motivated to learn.
These benefits come in addition to decreasing the need for disciplinary action, reducing stress, and increasing student attention spans.
There are some great schools that strive to put children outside and reflect this philosophy in their design.
Photo credit: Thorbjõrn Hansen Daycare Center in Holbæk, Denmark
Sitting at the highest point in the neighborhood, the daycare center on the outskirts of Holbæk, Denmark provides a base for an outdoor-oriented school.
Teaching children outside has long been a traditional education approach in Denmark, with ‘forest schools’ dating back to the 1950s.
This daycare, designed by Henning Larsen, includes large south-facing windows, a green roof, and gardens to allow children to play outside throughout the entire year.
Fuji Kindergarten in Japan
Physically encircling a tree, the innovative Fuji Kindergarten, designed by Yui and Takaharu Tezuka, highlights nature as a teacher every day.
The children can play on an outdoor structure that surrounds the tree, climb the tree itself, or just admire the tree from every room in the school.
The school furthers its connection to nature with lots of glass and open air, which means the outdoors flow seamlessly into the indoors.
Bronx Zoo School Proposal in the Bronx, New York
In the New York City borough of the Bronx, few people have close interaction with their natural environment. This proposal, which I designed for a public school in the Bronx zoo, was aimed at rectifying this problem.
Our connection to the ecological systems becomes apparent day-to-day through this school’s open architecture and outdoor classrooms and is bolstered by the whooping crane breeding program, which is integrated into the school and managed by the students.
Connecting patients to nature has been innately valued for centuries—the first health centers were at remote monasteries intended to foster the tie between healing and the environment.
Now, a growing body of modern scientific evidence supports this notion; patient outcomes appear to be closely related to interacting with nature.
Connection to the natural environment has been shown to improve overall healthcare quality in multiple ways by reducing staff stress and fatigue, increasing the effectiveness in delivering care, improving patient safety, and reducing patient stress.
All this leads to improve health outcomes and patients who are happier and heal faster. Hospitals foster this by having views, natural light, and access to gardens or the outdoors.
The few following hospitals do this exceedingly well.
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in Monterey, California
Designed in the early 1960s on the California coast, the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula was ahead of its time in pulling the outdoors inside a healing environment.
The patient rooms and public spaces have large panoramic views of the surrounding forest, gardens, and courtyards and a flow between all the indoor and outdoor spaces.
It has been recently expanded and remodeled by HOK to be state of the art while maintaining the original natural tranquility.
Children’s Psychiatry Center (KPC) in Genk, Netherlands
In an artistically crafted, patient-centric building, the Children’s Psychiatry Center in the Dutch city of Genk innovatively marries a designed outdoor environment with the hospital.
Children’s well being was at the core of OSAR’s design, so every space in the center captures views of internal courtyards, gardens, or the forest.
In so doing, the hospital reduces the stress of the patients, their families, and the staff and creates a safe and warm atmosphere within the center.
Children Psychiatric Center, Genk, Belgium. Photo courtesy of OSAR. www.osar.be
Because the evidence of diverse benefits is so strong, contact with nature in the workplace has become a central element in the design of healthy office spaces. Various studies have repeatedly shown thataccess to outdoor gardens or parks, indoor plants, and windows with views of natural places reduceworker stress levels.
Beyond manipulating stress levels, it appears that employees are also happier and more productive with a connection to nature.
And firms greatly benefit because sick leave and worker turnover is reduced.
With all these advantages, it is no wonder that creating contact between nature and workers is happening in offices, manufacturing plants, and every type of work environment in between.
Ford Rouge Factory in Dearborn, Michigan
A historic manufacturing facility that had been deemed a heavily polluted brownfield site, Ford transformed the facility into a vibrant, sustainable new factory.
Nature takes center stage at the facilities, which boast the largest green roof in North America, various treatment ponds and gardens, natural vegetation, and ample day lighting.
As a result, the productivity of the workers increased and sick days decreased.
One complaint: the amplified bird poop from the population that has taken up residence on the factory premise.
Selgas Cano Offices in Madrid, Spain
Within the urban area of Madrid, the architectural firm of Selgas Cano made waves with their design for their own office.
Sunken into the ground, curved glass opens the office up to spectacular and unusual views of the surrounding woods.
The space is filled with natural light that bounce of the bright interior colors.
Reportedly, employees love working in the space.
In urban areas, the expanse of human construction can particularly estrange people from the environment, so it becomes crucial to consciously give residents access to natural places.
A recent Danish study by Stigsdotter and colleagues found that people who lived more than 1 kilometer away from green space were generally less healthy.
They also showed worse vitality, were at higher risk for depression, and reported higher levels of stress and pain.
These advantages must partly contribute to the increased values of real estate adjacent to urban green space.
Some cities are working hard to bring nature into the urban core by creating or revitalizing parks and seeing green space as an essential element in their infrastructure.
Cheonggyecheon stream in Seoul, with a highway running over it.
Cheonggyecheon in Seoul, South Korea
A stream runs through the center of Seoul, but for decades, most people would never have known.
After years of polluting the Cheonggyecheon river, the city covered it in 1968 with an elevated, 8-lane hightway, hiding the river from view.
But in 2003, the mayor began an initiative to improve traffic and restore the river.
The Cheonggyecheon park opened in 2005, bringing people into close contact with the water and newly established parks through a central urban corridor.
This project revitalized the local busineesess, improved transportation, and made the citizens happy by providing them with a delightful green space and reconnecting them to their historic river.
Cheonggyecheon stream in Seoul. Photo: David Maddox
In partnership with nature
With nature providing such joy and many health benefits, it is time that architects and planners leverage designs that highlight the environment in our built spaces.
We can hope that beyond making a healthier and happier world, we can also prompt a more ethical relationship to nature.
As Sim Van der Ryn and Stuart Cowan conclude:
“Design transforms awareness. Designs that grow out of and celebrate place ground us in place. Designs that work in partnership with nature articulate an implicit hope that we might do the same.”
Whitney Hopkins is a designer in architecture and product design. She is interested in how design shapes society and the environment and has expertise in empathy, sustainability, and biomimicry.
Source: Sustainable Cities Collective