Over the years the prestigious Steel Awards, hosted annually by the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (Saisc), has been an excellent barometer of the growth of the Light Steel Frame Building (LSFB) in Southern Africa. This year was no different. Nineteen projects were entered into the LSFB category by seven leading Southern African Light Steel Frame Building Association (Sasfa) members from seven provinces around the country. The majority – 25% – came from Gauteng, with KZN 20% and 15% each from OFS and Eastern Cape.
Sasfa director John Barnard says that while the quantum of entries is an indicator of how the industry is faring, the floor area covered by the entries is a measure of how the industry has transformed since LSFB first became a category in the Steel Awards 10 years ago. It reflects the trend towards larger projects being built using LSF.
This year, the LSFB entries comprised 30% residential, 30% community buildings and the rest in office / commercial and industrial projects
“It is pleasing to see the growth in LSFB use in the residential sector,” says Barnard. “Home owners have accepted that LSF buildings appear no different to ‘conventionally’ built structures and that the quality of finishes is typically better. They also realise that LSF is a very cost-effective building method, with financial savings emanating mainly from significant time savings to complete building projects, less rework, reduced logistical costs –which are of growing importance due to the escalation of fuel prices and general construction inflation – and a drastic reduction of rubble on building sites, when compared with the brick-and-mortar alternative.”
When analysing the LSFB entries for Steel Awards 2017 during the judging process, Barnard says it was interesting how different entries represented different attributes of LSFB – logistics playing an important role in the more remote projects, low mass being important in the construction of long-span roof trusses, while speed of construction the key for most of the others.
2017 Steel Awards LSFB Winners
There were two joint winners in the MiTek LSFB category at Steel Awards 2017 –
GLA School Hall and Summit Place:
With several two and three storey office buildings at Summit Place, Garsfontein, Pretoria, already successfully clad with LSF façade walls with ETICS external cladding, it was no surprise that architect Boogertman & Partners, decided to use the same solution on the Assupol Building – the 11-storey winning office block -, in the same development.
In most of the earlier Summit Place buildings, the architect specified slanting, gravity defying façade walls. With the Assupol Building, he decided to introduce elegantly curved façade walls, made possible by LSF.
This is the first and highest South African high-rise office building where façade walls were constructed with LSF and ETICS external cladding. Saint-Gobains’ ETICS was used for the external cladding, as it is suited to curves, provides a durable external finish as well as insulating the office building to reduce the energy required for heating and cooling over the lifetime of the building.
Barnard says that this project amply portrays the benefits of LSFB. “The façade walls were built quickly and accurately with, for example, all of the 700 pre-made external windows fitting perfectly into the pre-designed openings in the wall panels. The low mass of the LSF and ETICS cladding eased logistics, and made handling on site a lot easier, requiring only a small team of artisans to do the installation. Also, importantly in these circumstances, the low waste factor meant a small operational footprint allowing other trades to work in tandem.
“This project is aesthetically pleasing and uniquely captures most of the benefits of LSFB,” says Barnard.
GLA School Hall
The main challenge of this Jeffrey’s Bay project was to establish a world class green education facility on a tight budget. This required architect, Jacobus Scott, to come up with innovative solutions especially because the owners wanted a multi-use gathering area, which required along span roof design. “The MiTek Ultra-Span system was perfect in these circumstances,” says Barnard. “The MiTek team designed and installed a cost-effective solution that not only looks impressive, but also effectively solved design and engineering problems that could never have been overcome with a traditional roofing system.”
Barnard adds that what struck him about this project was how closely the final structure resembles a sketch drawing used originally to promote the solution! “This is not the lowest mass per area roof structure, but some clever design captured benefits made possible by high strength low mass steel trusses. From natural ventilation to optimisation of natural light, photo voltaic cells and rainwater harvesting and the recyclability of materials used – LSF – made this green structure possible”.
“While these two are worthy winners, all the entries were of an exceptional standard and reflected the quality and excellence of an industry that is becoming increasingly relevant in a construction environment that is facing rising costs in materials and transport and in an end-user environment where energy costs are soaring and environmental issues are paramount,” Barnard concludes.
Power, Joburg Water and Pikitup are one step closer to falling under the operational control of the Johannesburg municipality, Mayor Herman Mashaba said on Sunday.
“On Thursday, Johannesburg City Council approved a report proposing the initiation of a process to reintegrate municipal-owned entities…”
Currently, said Mashaba, “the absurdity of this situation is that the City is the sole shareholder of these entities, but they operate under the Company’s Act and are semi-autonomous of the City”.
The managing directors and chief operating officers of these entities report, not to the municipality, but to a board of directors.
“How can a City be responsible and accountable to its residents for fast-tracking service delivery when it does not have complete control over the entities that implement delivery?”
The mayor said he hoped the entities – including City Power, Joburg Water and Pikitup – would be reintegrated back into the City’s structures within 18 months.
He said the report, which was approved earlier this week, detailed the process which would be followed, including establishing task teams, conducting feasibility studies, and ensuring public consultation.
Mashaba said there would be no job losses, as employees would be incorporated into the City’s structures.
He said the move would also save the City money, as the current salaries of non-executive board members for the entities cost R18-million a year.
“This is what we need to do to correct the sluggish and non-responsive nature of our service delivery in our City.”
Homes and other buildings have a direct impact on the environment due to the construction process utilized to build them, the materials used, and the design features. Traditional homes have typically had a negative impact on the environment, contributing greenhouse gases into the air with heating, cooling, and other types of energy usage. Sustainable building is gaining traction as more people seek to reduce the negative impact of their homes on the environment. Earthships are one sustainable home option, created by architect Michael Reynolds. These structures are designed for independent operation off of the grid, minimizing their negative impact on the environment. Some municipalities are developing special sustainable communities with Earthship homes for sale.
History of Earthships
Earthships have been evolving for more than 40 years with home designs that can exist in harmony with the environment. Reynolds receives credit as the mastermind behind the concept of Earthships. Reynolds’s vision has involved redefining architecture to build homes that need no energy or very little energy, both during the construction process and after. The name “Earthship” was created for these homes because they are self-sustaining structures. This means that they use renewable sources of energy such as the sun, wind, and water to power the home.
Construction and Design
Earthships contain both recycled and natural materials, earning them the label of “carbon-zero” homes. Contractors scour landfills to find suitable building materials for constructing Earthships. Materials such as discarded tires, aluminum cans, and glass and plastic beverage bottles have been collected for use in building Earthships. Mixing old tires with compacted soil creates an exceptionally strong material suitable for outer walls and load-bearing interior walls. Aluminum cans may be the main material used to construct other interior walls. These homes even utilize discarded panels from appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators in their construction. In addition, Earthships are built to coexist with and integrate into their surrounding natural environment. These homes have a soil thermal wrap around them, which helps regulate the interior temperature of the homes. Earthships often have at least two sides that are built into the earth. The roof design of Earthships enables harvesting of rainwater to divert into the home. After filtering the rainwater, homeowners can use it for laundry or cleaning.
Generation and Use of Power and Water
Earthships are independent structures, producing the power needed for their heating, cooling, water generation, water heating, sewage, lighting, and general electricity. With the installation of special organizing modules that collect energy from the sun and wind, Earthships save this energy for use in the home. Special batteries will hold the energy until the home needs it for heating or cooling, for example. The batteries will also use the energy for other processes in the home, such as operating a washing machine, kitchen appliances, and electrical devices. After collection of rainwater in cisterns, a special water organizing module filters and pumps the water into a pressurized tank for use in the home.
Examples of Earthships
A number of different Earthship designs are in active use around the world. As research and technology continues to expand, Earthships evolve with new designs and features. Some people opt for a custom Earthship with features that are built to exact specifications. This type of Earthship is the most expensive type of home. Other models are more economical because they have standardized features. Earthships can be designed and built for virtually any geographical location, including tropical parts of the world.
How to Acquire an Earthship
Acquiring an Earthship involves learning about this type of home and then planning the location of it. Choosing the location of the Earthship is an important part of the planning process, due in part to the permit process that is typically involved. It’s possible to build an Earthship in any climate, so geographic location need not be limited based on this factor. But some locations may be less expensive for building due to varying prices in sustainable building materials. Anyone wishing to build an Earthship should research possible locations, including the terrain and geographical features, as well as permits required.
This home was recently completed by the firm TheVeryMany, which is led by architect Marc Fornes, in Strasbourg, France. The main challenge was getting a large, luxury home into the rather small plot of available land, but they did it perfectly, with very few sacrifices, and some clever solutions.
The home is called MaHouse and measures 3,659 sq ft (340 sq m). Since the plot on which it was built is quite small, the home is made up of three volumes, which are stacked one on top of the other in an interesting, misaligned way. Each of these volumes also has a green roof. It took about three years to build this four-bedroom home.
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The master bedroom is located on the top floor, while the children’s bedrooms are on the second level, as is the playroom. The kitchen, living room and dining area are all located on the ground floor, while the home also has an underground garage. The different levels of the home are connected by a minimalistic staircase, which also features a slide for the kids to use to get from one level to the other. It’s a nice touch, but, frankly, I would want more side protection on this slide before I would let my children use it.
Squeezing such a large home into this tiny space meant that the neighboring houses are very close to MaHouse, so privacy was a concern. As was installing adequate glazing to let natural light enter the home. The architects solved this by installing Reglit Glass along the staircase, which offers privacy and also glows like a lantern in the dark.
This home is a great example of how clever design solutions can lead to being able to fit even very large structures into small plots.