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Langbos Children’s Shelter PROJECTS : Power Barn, Zeitz MOCAA, Lords View, Stortemelk Hydro, Skukuza Science Centre TECHNOLOGY: 3D printing MATERIALS: Wall coverings

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Editor’s Note




Editorial advisory board




PROJECT: Skukuza Science Leadership Initiative Centre


TECHNOLOGY: 3D printing




PROJECT: Power Barn


PROJECT: Lords View


MATERIALS: Wall coverings






PROJECT: The Sanctuary


SPECIAL REPORT: Philippi case study


TREND: Lower carbon concrete


PROJECT: Stortemelk Hydro


PROJECT: Langbos Children's Shelter


OPINION: Green building in Africa







Langbos Children’s Shelter PROJECTS : Power Barn, Zeitz MOCAA, Lords View, Stortemelk Hydro, Skukuza Science Centre TECHNOLOGY: 3D printing MATERIALS: Wall coverings 40

ON OUR COVER Langbos Children's Shelter Photograph: Christopher Grava

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Editor’s note

LUNAWOOD DECKING Lunawood is an outstanding decking material due to its stability and durability. Improved insulation properties make Lunawood an excellent choice for decking.

LUNAWOOD FACADE Thermowood is an outstanding choice for exterior claddings and facades. Thermowood allows Scandinavian softwood to be successfully used in hot and humid weather conditions.


I can still remember attending the roof wetting of the very first Green Star SA-rated project in South Africa. That was in 2009 and it was a (somewhat younger) very enthusiastic and ambitious team of people who were forging a new and different way of doing things. How far the green building industry in South Africa has come in such a short space of time. As the Green Building Council South Africa celebrates its tenth annual convention, it’s a great time to recognise what has been achieved. The incredible projects that impact so many lives, the array of rating tools and information, products and materials now available, the number of new businesses that have started, and, perhaps most importantly, the awareness of an alternative way of doing things that has now taken root. It’s also a good time to take in the most welcome inspiration that such a gathering provides. To refresh and reimagine the world as we wish it could be. In our opinion piece this issue (p.145), Thulani Kuzwayo tells us that green building should be viewed as just as relevant and important as gender equality and political stability, because it acknowledges interdependencies. These connections cannot be underestimated and they are becoming more pronounced as resource constraints continue to deepen. The pages of earthworks are dedicated to projects that highlight the interconnectedness and make the most of it. Projects that not only put emphasis on ecology and tackling climate change through energy innovation, but also bring about community upliftment through training and employment, and even create harmonious places for research into natural sciences. Projects that try to achieve balance in creating more sustainable buildings, cities and communities. It is gratifying to be able to share stories of those showing the courage and creativity to build with foresight.

Connect with us Like us on Facebook earthworksmag Follow us on Twitter @earthworksmag Agent in Southern Africa: +27 (0) 21 700 2800 More information and inspiration:

Find us online Subscribe to our YouTube Channel


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Contributors PETA BROM Peta has a background in housing research and sustainable development planning. She has spent the past 10 years working on sustainability in the built environment. She is a Green Star SA accredited professional and Green Star SA assessor. She is passionate about being part of change that builds a better future. FEMKE VAN ZANDVOORT Femke is a freelance writer and consultant, passionate about sustainability, green building and about communicating its benefits to the broader public. She has an MSc in communications and is a Green Star SA accredited professional. KAREN EICKER A graduate of Wits University with a background in corporate architecture, Karen has written for South Africa’s foremost built environment publications. She was commissary general of the 25th International Union of Architects World Congress, UIA2014 Durban. She is a director of the Architect Africa News Network, a founder and director of the Architects’ Collective, and a member of the International Committee of Architectural Critics. MARY JANE BOTHA A seasoned writer, editor and freelance marketing communications specialist, MJ contributes widely to consumer, trade and academic media platforms. As a mum of three young adults, she cares deeply about the fragile world that they and future generations will inherit, and instills in her family an understanding that even the smallest acts of kindness and thoughtful conservation do make a difference. JORISNA BONTHUYS Jorisna is a freelance writer and award-winning journalist with wide-ranging experience in the media industry. She has a background in environmental and political reporting and also worked as a communicator for a conservation NGO. She specialises in science and environmental reporting.

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NATALIE GREVE Raised along the Garden Route and now based in Johannesburg, Natalie cut her teeth in business journalism, covering green building, energy, construction and engineering. She then moved to a fast-paced daily national newspaper, serving as deputy news editor before being appointed acting news editor. Natalie now works as a freelance writer and editor. HUGH TYRRELL Hugh runs GreenEdge, a Cape-based communications consultancy working nationally. His special interest is creating recycling behaviour change and communication campaigns for municipalities and corporates. ANNE SCHAUFFER Anne has long been a Durban-based freelance journalist, specialising in the broad arena of property, with a passion for the people, design, architecture, landscape and natural environment in which it’s found. She loves nothing better than to take a ride into the wilder side - with binoculars and camera – and disappear into the bush to reconnect with what matters, and reboot. LEONIE JOUBERT Leonie is a freelance science writer and author, who uses different storytelling approaches to wander through the often unmapped terrain we face as we try to find ways to live together on a tightly packed planet: climate, energy, environmental change, and hunger and malnutrition in the world of Big Food. Her books include Scorched, Boiling Point, Invaded, The Hungry Season, and Oranjezicht City Farm. DAVE SOUTHWOOD Dave Southwood has a deep concern for architecture and space. He has been published by RIBA, Domus, Architectural Review, Architectural Record etc. and has had video work on the Venice Biennale of Architecture. Most recently he’s been refining drone and video representations of structures and spaces. This work can be seen at

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And the winner for a Star performance is … Artevia™ ! It’s all about the look with this decorative concrete for beautiful interior floors and outdoor paving… colours, textures… the possibilities are endless… the quality unmatched. For the year’s stunning looks and breakthroughs in decorative concrete, go to 0860 LAFARG (523274)

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EDITOR Christy Borman | 021 447 0822 or 082 777 5746 DEPUTY EDITOR Daniel Gillespie | | 021 447 0822 CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Mary Anne Constable | ART DIRECTOR Bianca-Leigh Nagel | COPY EDITOR Janine Oelofse WRITERS Karen Eicker, Natalie Greve, Anne Schauffer, Femke van Zandvoort, Hugh Tyrrell, Peta Brom, Leonie Joubert, Jorisna Bonthuys, Mary Jane Botha ILLUSTRATIONS Designed by MANAGING DIRECTOR Eugene Hugo | | 021 447 0822 or 071 672 3545 SALES DIRECTOR Suna Hugo | | 021 447 0822 or 076 010 1045 PROJECT MANAGER Danielle Hector | | 021 447 0822 SALES EXECUTIVES Michael Bandembwasa, Letta Nkomo | 021 447 0822 DEBTOR'S CLERK Charlotte Ngubane | | 021 447 0822 SUBSCRIPTIONS | 021 447 0822 AD TRAFFIC CONTROLLER | 021 447 0822 PRINTING Novus Print Solutions PUBLISHER Young Africa Publishing 2009/000077/23 Cape Town: Unit A104B & B202-1, The Woodstock Exchange, 66 Albert Road, Woodstock, 7925 PO Box 1189, Woodstock, 7915 Tel: 021 447 0822

© earthworks 2017. All due care will be taken with material submitted but the magazine and the publishers cannot be held responsible for loss or damage. earthworks assumes no responsibility to return unsolicited editorial, graphic, photographic or other material. All rights in letters and unsolicited material will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes and material will be subject to earthworks’s unrestricted right to edit, crop, adjust and comment. earthworks is fully protected by copyright and nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without the written permission from the publisher, Young Africa Publishing. While reasonable precautions have been taken to ensure the accuracy of advice and information given to the reader, the editor, the publisher and the proprietor cannot accept responsibility for any damage or inconvenience that may arise therefrom. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher.

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Paul completed his BEng in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Stellenbosch and worked as a building services engineer in SA and the UK with a focus on heating, ventilation and air-conditioning. He studied Sustainable Energy Engineering at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. After lecturing on building physics and comfort strategies at the School of Architecture at Universidade Austral, in Chile, Paul returned to SA and founded PJCarew Consulting in 2004. With 20 staff, it is the largest group in the country focused on this sector of the construction industry. His focus is on passive and low energy design, thermal comfort strategies, computer simulated modelling, and costing and costrecovery tools specific to green buildings. Paul has lectured at the University of Cape Town and TU Munich, publishes papers and attends local and international conferences.


As the managing executive: public sector at the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) Thulani oversees the creation and implementation of a public sector capacity building strategy by fostering strategic relationships within all three spheres of government and some Stateowned enterprises. Thulani has been involved in managing the Green Star SA Certification process and pre-scoping for the development of a sustainability assessment tool for sustainable precincts. Prior to joining the GBCSA, he worked on local and international architectural projects, has been involved in developing Quality Management Systems and has worked as a sessional lecturer at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand.


Bruce Wilson is an architect with an interest in green building design and construction. An associate architect at the Cape Town office of SVA International, Bruce gained a Master’s degree from the University of Pretoria and an Honours Degree at the Technical University of Eindhoven. He has recently completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Property Studies at the University of Cape Town. His key experience includes design of education facilities, student and social housing, and mixed-use retail or commercial projects. He is a Green Star SA AP, and a low carbon consultant with the UK Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers.


Jutta is a sustainable building consultant and entrepreneur, with a strong academic and professional background in environmental and development economics. She is the principal and founder at ecocentric, a consultancy specialising in LEED and Green Star SA certification. Among her recent projects are MTN head office’s LEED Silver rating and Hotel Verde’s LEED Platinum certification, both notable firsts on the continent. She was a member of the lead consulting team that developed the Green Star Existing Building Performance Rating tool and was contributor to the Bellagio conference report on Eco-City Indicators, Standards & Frameworks. She believes that “no building is an island” and that shifting the way buildings and spaces are designed, constructed and operated offers the best opportunity for addressing global climate issues, while driving environmental, economic and social sustainability goals.


Kevin is a sustainable business strategist and futurist who founded Global Carbon Exchange (GCX Africa) in 2006. The team at GCX Africa are systems thinkers, developing measurable milestone driven sustainable business strategies. They comprise skilled carbon, energy, water, zero waste and process engineering and sustainability specialists who design and implement sustainable business strategies and can evaluate the feasibility (financial and environmental) of all programmes, always linking outcomes to tangible and intangible business value. Kevin is a regular guest

on Radio 2000’s drive-time experience since 2011 covering energy, climate change current affairs and sustainability. He is a regular keynote speaker, panel participant, debater and moderator.


Fabio founded Terramanzi Group in 2011 and has considerable experience in sustainability and environmental consulting. He is a certified environmental scientist with the Southern African Institute of Ecologists and Environmental Scientists, has chaired the Western Cape branch of the South African affiliate of the International Association for Impact Assessment, and is a founding member of the Environmental Assessment Practitioner’s Association of South Africa. He is a certified carbon footprint analyst and energy efficiency auditor and is a Green Star SA AP. Fabio serves as a faculty member and project assessor for the GBCSA and has lectured at the University of Cape Town and the University of Stellenbosch engineering faculties.


Francini is an environmental and sustainability professional with postgraduate recognitions from international institutions. Her experience includes environmental impact assessment consulting and public sector environmental management and decision-making. She is positive about industry and academia collaboration in response to environmental and sustainability complexities. She is currently a part-time Sustainability Management MBA student at the Sustainability Management School Switzerland, with an SA sustainability research focus. She represents a student viewpoint that increasingly and outrightly questions sustainability fundamentals; formulates multi-dimensional questions on society, economy and the environment; and envisions the ‘re-constructing’ of society’s relations to the economy and environment for long-term sustainability.


Use-It is the Waste Materials Recovery Industry Development Programme in Durban which Chris has headed since 2009. It is a multi-award-winning NGO that has facilitated over 2300 jobs in the waste and recycling sector in the last six years. Use-It explore, invent and create opportunities in waste beneficiation that touch on waste management, water management, infrastructure, energy, social upliftment, environmental benefit, economic development, low carbon development, enterprise development and skills development. One key project is development of the 5-Star EcoStandard rated RamBrick technology.


Jeremy is an architect, research scientist and sustainable built environment specialist. He has worked on acclaimed built environment projects for the UN, government, the private sector and communities. His research interests include sustainability, inclusion, facilities management, cities, education and community architecture, building performance, assessment systems and indicators. He has developed a range of built environment sustainability tools particularly suited for developing country contexts. He has also provided policy, legislation, urban planning, technical guidance and training work in numerous countries. He is the coordinator of Smart and Sustainable Built Environment Working Group (W116) for the Construction Industry Board.


JP is a recent graduate of the University of KwaZuluNatal and winner of the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year competition for his Masters thesis focused on designing for biodiversity through a water research facility on the Umgeni River. Currently practicing at an architectural firm in Durban, he brings to his work a personal appreciation for the beauty of the natural world and a fascination with the functioning of the ecosystems within it.

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Spanish-Kenyan architecture firm Urko Sanchez Architects recently completed the Tudor Apartments complex in Tudor Creek, north of Mombasa Island in Kenya. Set in a lush, upmarket area, the development features 14 apartments, wrapped by a striking moucharabieh structural shell. A traditional feature of Islamic architecture, the moucharabieh skin was designed by the architects following a study of different traditional patterns, to enhance natural lighting, ventilation and privacy. The engineering team ensured that the skin is entirely structural. “A novelty to Kenya, such structural skin was possible thanks to local and international engineers working hand by hand, and to the steel workers on site who managed, by dedication and care, flawless bar-bending work without access to any technology,” says the firm. In addition to white plaster finishing, the project uses mtomo finish, a coral stone cladding technique unique to Lamu that helps contain thermal capacity thanks to the porosity of the coral stone. Woodwork was entirely hand carved by local artisans from Mombasa and Lamu. The screen maintains the residents’ privacy, given the development’s prominent position in the area, while also allowing for panoramic views of the creek. The client, Swahili Gem, wanted a building that would have minimal environmental impact so it was constructed with the land’s natural slope in mind, regressing with the hillside as it retreats from the water. Emphasis was also placed on sourcing local materials and using local specialists to complete the building. Sustainable features include solar-heated water, taking advantage of the abundant sun in Mombasa, as well as provision for rainwater collection to mitigate against water scarcity in the area. The mangroves and trees on site were left undisturbed as far as possible, with the theme of greenery being brought in to the apartments via open patios. There is also a bio-digester on site, as there is no sewage system connection available. It treats grey and blackwater, before discharging it safely into the creek.

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ADJAYE ON THE SERVICE OF ARCHITECTURE A crowd of more than 300 people gathered in Cape Town to engage with architect Sir David Adjaye on his involvement in the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), which stands prominently next to the Washington Monument in Washington DC. In conversation with The City Agency founder Zahira Asmal, Adjaye discussed how the concepts of heritage, memory and “making place” influence his work. He emphasised that if cities are interested in being more integrated, they have to tell stories and create a frame for all cultures to learn about WATCH: To watch a video with more from this each other. In this way, “architecture has a profound discussion and the design intricacies of the beautiful impact on the people it serves” and can be used to NMAAHC, visit empower democracy. Public space in particular should celebrate democracy. “The collective visual memory of a community is not to be underestimated. If you don’t have that, the community is fragmented,” he added. As African cities continue to grow and strive to become more inclusive and resilient, built environment professionals should not shy away from grappling with the tough issues. “For a city to be successful it needs to evolve, continually refresh and offer opportunity to attract people. The city is a complicated landscape, but it is a canvas for expressions. The city should understand its value and where it wants to see itself,” Adjaye said.


JOBURG’S CLEANUP CAMPAIGN Herman Mashaba, executive mayor of the City of Johannesburg, recently launched a ward-based litter pick-up cleaning initiative. Starting in September, Jo’burg will have a citywide clean-up on the last Saturday of every month, supported by councillors and ward committee members as well as businesses. Dubbed A Re Sebetseng, the campaign is modelled on Rwandan capital Kigali’s Umaganda programme, which led to the city being named the cleanest in Africa in 2015.

Seeking to address the knowledge vacuum generated by the multitude of environmental, economic and social crises manifesting in cities in the Global South due to rapid urbanisation, the African Centre for Cities (ACC), rooted at the University of Cape Town, has launched a new masters in Southern Urbanism (an MPhil specialising in Urban Studies). The development of the course, supported by a grant from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, got underway in 2015 and will have its first in-take in 2018. In year one, students complete the masters coursework, which includes a compulsory City Research studio, a choice of two out of three interdisciplinary urban modules, and an urban-focused elective. In year two, students research and write individual minor dissertations based on their own fieldwork. Applications for the course are now open on the ACC website.

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GREEN GOALS FOR SANDTON GATE DEVELOPMENT To be developed by Abland and Tiber, the Sandton Gate precinct, situated on William Nicol Drive between Sandton Drive and Republic Road, will provide 130 000m2 of developable floor area. This will be made up of about 80 000m2 of offices, 400 residential units and other amenities. The ambition is to attain at least a 4 Star Green Star SA rating for every commercial building in the precinct, which will align with the development’s stated green goals. “We are proud to say that the entire precinct will be Green Star SA-rated and that Sandton Gate is one of the sites being used as a pilot in the development of the precinct rating tool by the Green Building Council of South Africa,” says Abland managing director Jurgen Prinsloo.

The World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) recently released Food loss and waste: facts and futures report has highlighted the economic, environmental and social cost of food waste in South Africa. Statistics gathered for the report show that, in line with the rest of the world, about one third of all food produced in South Africa ends up in landfill. This, despite the fact that many people in the country experience hunger resulting from lack of food. About 50% of that loss occurs at farm or post-harvesting level, with 25% lost during processing and packaging, 20% at distribution and retail level, and 5% on a domestic level. Solutions for the problem are multifaceted, and include government taking steps to regulate farming, packaging and retail practices by putting in place waste restrictions, as well as so-called “waste not, want not” actions for the food industry and retail sector. These include adopting date label best practice (putting both a “sell-by” and “use-by” date on the label to avoid consumer confusion), collaboration throughout the supply chain to reduce unnecessary loss, and signing up to the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard, which helps standardise data across the board. Download the full report at:

SOLAR PV FOR ATTERBURY’S PORTFOLIO SOLA Future Energy and Atterbury Property Developments have partnered to provide high quality solar energy and electrical storage solutions to the Atterbury portfolio of properties. The parties entered an agreement in May 2017, which will guide the installation of 20MW of solar PV systems on Atterbury properties, including those at Waterfall Estate in Midrand. James Ehlers, Atterbury Property Developments managing director, says: “Atterbury realised solar-smart solutions are needed, as this will become a vital part of the property industry.” SOLA will provide the design and engineering services for the full 20MW. They will also manage the installation during the project development phase, and will assist Atterbury with ongoing operation and maintenance of the systems. The agreement currently covers all Atterbury projects in South Africa and selected projects in Africa and abroad.

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BRITISH STUDENT CREATES PLANT-BASED HOME WATER FILTER SYSTEM Pratik Ghosh, a student of the Royal College of Art’s (RCA) masters programme in Innovation Design Engineering, has designed a home water filtration system that’s powered by herbs and purifies waste water from the kitchen. Modelled as a mini rainforest, the system, dubbed “Drop by Drop”, houses the plants under a glass dome. Pipes allow water to be introduced to be purified, and later collected. The system is designed for greywater from washing machines, sinks and baths. A light within the dome triggers the plants to photosynthesise and transpire, so water is drawn through the roots and on to the leaves, where it enters the air as vapour. The moisture is then drawn out of the dome, and condensed to form purified distilled water – which has salt added to make it suitable for drinking. “One can pour dirty water collected from the kitchen or even the bathroom into the system and the plants help you filter it. The idea is to change the way we procure and consume water at a larger level,” Ghosh told Dezeen. “In order to do that, there needs to be a change in the value system and what better place to start than the home?” Ghosh believes the concept can be scaled up using bigger plants and trees that need more water and potentially can be grown in contained environments, such as the roof of a building.

BRITAIN TO KICK PETROL TO THE CURB Britain plans to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040. More than £1billion (R16billion) will be invested in promoting low-emissions cars, as well as a green bus fund and infrastructure dedicated to cycling and walking. The efforts are part of Britain’s Clean Air Plan, spearheaded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Transport. The plan aims to remove pollutants from the environment to curb the damage they do to plant, animal and human life. Government leaders believe poor air quality poses a huge environmental risk to public health in the United Kingdom, costing up to £2.7billion (R45billion) in lost productivity in one recent year.

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ARUP COMMENDED FOR PWC TOWER The 26-storey PwC Tower, which stands tall in Midrand, Gauteng, garnered global consultancy Arup a Highly Commended award in the Structural Engineering Project Division at the South African Institution of Civil Engineering’s (SAICE) Most Outstanding Project Awards ceremony hosted in Johannesburg earlier this year. Set for completion in 2018, the PwC Tower will house some 3500 employees in 45 000m2 of office space. The building is targeting a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating. “We at Arup are extremely proud to be part of the team that has created this iconic building. To receive the Highly Commended Award from SAICE for our role as structural engineers is an honour,” says Richard Lawson, associate director at Arup and project manager for the PwC Tower.

CAPE TOWN MAYOR ON RESILIENT CITIES ADVISORY COMMITTEE City of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has been chosen to serve on the advisory committee of the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) initiative (pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation). The committee is a group of city chief executives who will contribute their expertise to the global resilience movement. As 100RC pivots to implementing resilience-building projects in cities, the committee members will advise on policy and advocacy, act as global champions, and help the organisation identify and prioritise key issues that are essential to building urban resilience.

ANAEROBIC DIGESTERS FOR KNOWLEDGE AND POWER In May 2017 environmental consultancy GCX successfully installed seven home-scale anaerobic digesters at the Potchefstroom College of Agriculture in the North West Province. The aim of this installation is to reduce the college’s reliance on bought energy sources and to upskill students around anaerobic digestion (AD). During the process of AD, organic waste is converted into two products, namely biogas and liquid fertiliser. The biogas consists on average of 65% methane and 35% carbon dioxide. Because methane is flammable, the biogas can be used in gas stoves, gas lamps and gas geysers, among others. The fertiliser obtained from the process can effectively replace conventional fertilisers and act as a super growth medium, enhancing the growth of plants and crops. By having students successfully manage small scale digesters it allows them to learn about AD technology and how to operate it.

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ARCHITECTS GO FOR GOLD The Go for Gold education-to-employment programme, has teamed up with dhk to provide two beneficiaries of the programme internships at the architecture company’s Cape Town design studio. dhk is the first architectural firm to join the programme, and they are encouraging other built environment professionals to get involved too. Other companies involved are: NMC, Haw & Inglis; Martin & East; Sutherland; Power Group; Murray & Roberts; WBHO; Group Five; Aveng Grinaker LTA; CPUT; Peri South Africa; Stefanutti Stocks Marine; Synergy; and R+N Master Builders. “With Go for Gold we’re able to make a meaningful difference in the lives of young people while opening up the world of architecture to students who may not have even been aware of this as a career option,” says dhk associate and head of communications Jacqui Barouch. Go for Gold tackles youth unemployment, education and skills development in underprivileged communities with a four-phase model focused on personal and professional development. Initially, Grade 11 and 12 learners get weekly extra lessons in maths, science, life skills and leadership. After matriculation, participants take part in a year-long internship with partner companies, enabling them to determine the course of their studies the following year.

Kohler has introduced a new showerhead that uses an air induction system to reduce water usage. Every minute, two litres of air is drawn into the showerhead, using a Venturi valve system, to reduce water usage, while keeping the flow high. The showerhead could help reduce water consumption in drought-stricken South Africa, particularly in the Western Cape.

AUTONOMOUS CARGO SHIP TO DEBUT IN 2018 Yara, a firm of environmental protection agents, and Kongsberg, a multinational maritime company, are teaming up to launch the world’s first emissions-free autonomous cargo ship. The 100% electric container feeder ship will also improve road safety by removing up to 40 000 truck journeys in populated urban areas. The vessel will launch in late 2018 and will be manned at first, but will become fully autonomous by 2020. The ship will transport products from Yara’s production plant in Porsgrunn, Norway around the coast to Brevik and Larvik, also in Norway.

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The home of the Skukuza Science Leadership Initiative, the SSLI Campus, is a training and research facility that furthers the transfer of knowledge and science skills to students, technicians and professionals from South Africa and beyond. The new Science Centre takes lessons to a higher level. WORDS KA REN EICKER IMAGES SIMON BIRD, NW ARCHITECTS

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he new Skukuza Science Centre on the SSLI Campus, a partnership between the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), the Nsasani Trust, and the Scientific Services division of SANParks in the Kruger National Park (KNP), is a flagship project with two primary goals. The first is to enhance scientific experiential learning opportunities and provide a platform for academic exchange in the field; and the second is to demonstrate to managers, tourists and students the feasibility of low-impact living by showcasing the ways in which sustainable design and facilities management can reduce the environmental impact of daily living. The project originated when OTS, a US-based nonprofit, established a field study programme in 2003 for undergraduate students to come to grips with savanna ecology and conservation, and to improve their practical skills through experiential learning in nature. As the programme provided opportunities primarily for international students, in 2010 Laurence Kruger and Karen Vickers of the OTS established the Nsasani Trust to make this higher learning available to South Africans. The SSLI partnership subsequently developed between the OTS, Nsasani and SANParks Scientific Services with the aim of bridging the gap between disadvantaged communities, tertiary education and the biodiversity sector.

A SUITABLE SITE In 2011, SANParks Scientific Services at the KNP offered the use of land that had previously been the “My Acre of Africa” site. Derek Visagie, senior manager: civil and building at KNP, says this site was ideal for the new centre as it was a brownfield site and would form part of the training facilities that OTS had already been using. He adds: “The value for SANParks was primarily in the application of KNP’s sustainable green building principles, the use of innovative alternative construction methodologies, and the sourcing of local materials wherever possible to reduce CO2 emissions.” Funding was sourced from OTS (R3.5million through a US National Science Foundation grant) and SANParks (R3million from the Kruger National Park Infrastructure Development Programme) for the new building, comprising a lecture theatre, library, laboratory and supporting facilities. A request for expressions of interest went out in 2011, and the contract was awarded to a joint venture between Nicholas Whitcutt Architects and Kevin Mitchell Architect.

About two hectares in size, the site is adjacent to the Skukuza back-up generator on the road leading to the Skukuza staff village. Already serviced with water and electricity, and with good access, the site contained several existing buildings and structures, including two four-bedroomed houses, four wooden cabins, various carports and storage sheds. Kruger says: “Skukuza is second to none as a field lab for research. There is a rich variety of ecosystems within an hour’s drive. It is the hub of managementrelated science in the KNP, and it has a deep connection with adjacent rural communities.” “In the KNP, you are in one of the most intact wildernesses in the world,” says Vickers. “Because there is generally a marked disconnect between nature and how we behave, we needed a building that would allow us to convey the true impact of living and working in nature – through various devices that include monitoring energy and water consumption, and waste generation. “During their stay, every student will have tasks and responsibilities on site. The intention is that everyone contributes rather than just using and leaving – fostering the idea that ‘change starts with me’.”

RESPONSE TO THE BRIEF Kruger says it was with the engagement of SANParks Scientific Services that the idea of a cradle-to-cradle approach could be entertained from the outset of the project. The intention was to ensure that lessons from the construction of the building as well as its sustainable life processes are kept alive and passed on, to ensure that the project has continued ecological meaning. The brief included student accommodation for 30; catering and dining facilities for 50; a science centre comprising a lecture theatre for 50, dry lab for 24, and library for 30; staff accommodation for full-time staff members and visiting lecturers; and supporting services such as a laundry, reception, offices, hot desks, staff meeting spaces, and ablutions. Phase one was completed in 2014, and involved retrofitting the existing structures for catering and the operations manager’s accommodation, as well as new ablution facilities. Phase two, the Science Centre, was completed in two stages from the end of 2015 through to mid-2017. At the time of writing, funding proposals were being circulated for student accommodation, and the canteen building designs were underway. Once the student accommodation has been built, the existing houses will be revisited for staff accommodation.

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EVOLVING DESIGN Architect Nicholas Whitcutt explains: “The concept proposal for the masterplan was to establish a clear threshold demarcating access to reception, the canteen and Science Centre within a public radius, limiting vehicles to this interface, with the more private functions of student and staff accommodation located towards the periphery of the site. “The southern part of the property is occupied by a large generator that provides back-up power for the whole of Skukuza. We decided to build the SSLI centre as close to this source of noise as possible, in order to more easily deal with it by buffering the noise through massive structural elements and layers of service spaces such as the storerooms and toilets.”


Architect Kevin Mitchell says the design concept was very much informed by the context, with an emphasis on a green, low-tech approach. “We aimed to source materials from concentric circles outwards, reusing the existing demolished structures as quarries wherever possible, to reduce the embodied energy of the new buildings. “The design was also about defining secure outside spaces for social activities within a wild environment, which was achieved by locating them between the three main functions of the building – lecture theatre, laboratory and library. The process was highly explorative, and the result is a truly contextual response with its own distinct contemporary language.” The first public experience of the centre is of a sloping landscape created by a planted roof that starts at natural ground level. Both interior and exterior spaces (including a small amphitheatre, refreshment station, informal meeting spaces and courtyard) are located under this overarching, insulative roof structure. Below, a micro-climate is created by a water feature providing evaporation and cooling, and the roof, trees and planted screens provide shade. The southern side is heavily buffered against the generator by a massive curved wall built from rubble sourced from the demolitions on site. The rubble was packed so that the smooth, flush-jointed, acoustically reflective surfaces of the material face inwards towards the lecture theatre, while the rough, onedge, acoustically refractive surfaces face outwards towards the generator.

Location • Skukuza, Kruger National Park Completion • June 2017 Budget • R6.5million Size • 825m²

The southern side of the building is buffered against the sound of the generator by a large curved wall built from rubble sourced on-site (top), while the rainwater harvesting tanks (above), double up as a chill-out area thanks to the concrete seating installed around the base.

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A great deal of attention was paid to the design of the work spaces following four workshops held with SSLI students. In the lecture theatre, the drivers were acoustics and sightlines, natural ventilation, light levels and the mitigation of glare – in short, human comfort. Various spaces were accommodated in the library for different types of working and studying, with areas that are quieter and more introspective, and spaces that allow for discussion and interaction. In the laboratory, ventilation was particularly important, together with a system of specially designed work tables and racks of trays. Kruger says these trays, which can be stored, allow students to work on multiple projects and change gear very quickly – a great innovation on a micro scale.

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SUSTAINABILITY FEATURES Due to low annual rainfall, the site remains connected to the existing water supply, but demand on this system is reduced by harvesting rainwater from the centre’s roof. The three tanks used for rainwater storage double as chill-out areas with seating at the base of each. A multi-hybrid solar photovoltaic (PV) system was designed to ensure uninterrupted power supply to essential equipment in the event of an outage. This works as a combined island and grid-tied system, and consists of 24 PV panels and 24 batteries. A cold room off the laboratory is a plant-operated humidity-controlled space for lab storage, with the plant powered by the solar PV system. LED lighting is used wherever possible.

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The lecture theatre (above left) can seat 50 students, while the custom-built library (above right) can host up to 30 people at a time.

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“Energy demand was drastically reduced through passive design,” says Whitcutt. “The micro-climate below the roof structure acts as an effective buffer to the extreme KNP climate. Each internal space was separately considered based on orientation and function, with the result that no mechanical ventilation or air-conditioning was required.” The north wall of the library is a trombe wall, which is manually operated to adjust airflow and temperature depending on the time of day and year. The trombe wall comprises two parts: rammed earth built from soil sourced on site and from a Skukuza borrow pit, which strengthens over time and “breathes”, allowing for a healthy working environment; and a glass face to the north with an air gap in between the wall and glass, and high- and low-level air vents. It can be adjusted into three different configurations to control the library’s internal climate. The site is serviced for water-borne sewage, which is treated in Skukuza via oxidation tanks and a reed bed system. Additionally, Enviro Loo waterless composting toilets were installed in the Science Centre, and all wastewater from basins drains to a soak-away system or to existing plants. A unique feature of the project is the planted roof, which functions as a research tool, housing experimental “plots” in planter trays that are exposed to varying water conditions in “rainout shelters”. “We are interested in climate change effects on savanna ecology, and we test the reduced availability of rainwater in terms of seed germination and the interaction between plants,” says Kruger. “This is achieved with an irrigation structure – the rainout shelters – designed for experimenting with different amounts of rainwater. In addition, the landscaping

at ground level will include medicinal plants and plants primarily pollinated by birds and moths, for student experiments.”

QUESTIONING THE STATUS QUO Both Mitchell and Whitcutt emphasise that old frameworks, institutional procedures and contracting norms should be adapted to accommodate new lessons from the challenges experienced. An example is the journey followed in sourcing materials with low embodied energy. Rubble from site was used for the bulk of the walls – a very green and cost-effective solution. However, by the beginning of April, the on-site rubble ran out and the builder began outsourcing rubble from dump sites in Nelspruit to continue construction according to what was specified. As this rubble had to be transported, this gave the material a much larger carbon footprint. The architects’ response was to build the remaining walls with mud bricks made up on site, and cement stock bricks (without the embodied energy of clay stock bricks as they don’t need to be fired in a kiln), which were manufactured


• Planted, insulative roof and planted screens create a cooler micro-climate • Heavy rubble wall mitigates noise from the generator • Passive design meaning no mechanical ventilation or air-conditioning required • Trombe wall is manually operated to adjust airflow and temperature in library • Rainwater harvesting with three tanks for storage • Greywater collection for irrigation • Waterless composting toilets • A multi-hybrid solar PV system ensures uninterrupted power supply to essential equipment • LED lighting used wherever possible • Light fittings made from recycled aluminium • Recycled and low-impact construction and finishing materials (rammed earth, mud bricks, recycled rubble, eco-friendly sealants) The planted roof, which will function as a research tool with experimental “plots” in planter trays exposed to different conditions. The roof to the right houses a multi-hybrid solar PV system providing power to the centre in the event of a grid outage.

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An overview of the centre shows how both interior and exterior spaces (including a small amphitheatre, refreshment station, informal meeting spaces and courtyard) are located under an overarching, insulative roof structure.

and brought in from small building supplier yards just outside the KNP. In this way, transport costs and emissions were greatly reduced, local labour was used and local businesses supported. As far as pursuing green ratings are concerned, Mitchell says: “The decision was taken not to use green certification tools as a benchmark and goal at the inception, as we felt this may steer the project in a particular direction and detract from the opportunities that an explorative building process could offer. Rating systems and green codes are often based on foreign standards that are adopted and modified to a very broad context with very diverse economic and social contexts. This then gets translated into prescriptive requirements that pay little attention to how people behave, what the economic situation is, or the fact that people are incredibly creative in finding relevant local social and economic solutions. Now that the building is complete, we are evaluating the process against these measures and ratings, and will hopefully be able to provide some reflection on this topic.”

A LEARNING PROCESS As funding for the Science Centre was sourced separately from SANParks and the OTS, two separate procurement and contractual processes had to be followed. This resulted in the appointment of one contractor for the roof structure, library and laboratory, and a second contractor for the lecture theatre, roof covering, water feature and landscaping. “The process had to be carefully managed,” comments Visagie. “The team was well organised and worked well together, and the architects had a representative on site at all times to assist the contractor during construction.”

Mitchell says: “One of the big successes was the collective enthusiasm about doing something different. Plus, the lengthy evolution of the project gave us time to re-evaluate processes rather than having to rush into decisions, with the result that the building started living a little as it grew.” Whitcutt adds: “The biggest challenge was changing mindsets around working with alternative technologies and methods of construction. The real lesson for us, as architects, was the importance of having a full-time on-site presence. When people are uncertain about a process, they either don’t do anything, or default to existing, conventional specifications. Through this supportive process, we were able to teach the teams new methods of construction and facilitate skills transfer.” Kruger agrees: “The whole process spoke to the philosophy of leadership and holistic education. It’s been a highly collaborative project between the clients, professional team, builders, students and architects. Everything was treated as a learning exercise, in a highly participatory process. The building tells the story of the organic construction process and the work that will be conducted in these spaces – and the finished product is breathtaking.”


Kruger National Park: senior manager: civil and building, Derek Visagie,,, 013 735 4133 Organization for Tropical Studies: director, Laurence Kruger,,, 082 422 6225 Nsasani Trust: co-director, Karen Vickers,,, 079 311 4778 Nicholas Whitcutt Architects: director, Nicholas Whitcutt,,, 083 460 6052 Kevin Mitchell Architect: director, Kevin Mitchell,, 083 966 0713

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PRINTING PROPERTY While South Africa has some catching up to do, the use of 3D printers in the local design and construction industry is steadily gaining traction – and could even pose some interesting social dilemmas in future. WO R DS NATALIE GREVE IMAGES ISTOCKPHOTO S , PARAGON ARCHITECTS, SUPPLIED

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n an era of increasing technological disruption, the global architecture and construction industry faces its own threats to the status quo. Few of these have a greater capacity to shake up the way buildings are conceptualised, designed and constructed than 3D printing. In a nutshell, 3D printing is the computercontrolled sequential layering of materials to create three-dimensional shapes. Occasionally referred to as additive manufacturing (AM), this process is particularly useful for prototyping and for the manufacture of geometrically complex components. “It was first developed in the 1980s, but at that time was a difficult and expensive operation and so had few applications. It is only since 2000 that it has become relatively straightforward and affordable, and so has become viable for a wide range of uses, such as product design; component and tool manufacture; consumer electronics; plastics; metalworking; aerospace engineering; dental and medical applications; footwear and so on,” explains UK-based online resource for the construction industry Designing Buildings Wiki. The technology has also evolved for application in the construction industry. A 3D scanner or computer-aided design programme is used to create a 3D digital model of the item, which is then read by the computer. The computer uses a 3D construction printer to lay down successive layers of whichever printing medium has been selected – be it liquid, powder, sheet material, plastic or concrete. These layers fuse to create the item. “Construction is well-suited to 3D printing, as much of the information necessary to create an item will exist as a result of the design process, and the industry is already experienced in computeraided manufacturing. The recent emergence of building information modelling, in particular, may facilitate greater use of 3D printing,” Designing Buildings Wiki notes. Currently, the use of 3D printers in the South African construction industry is limited and extends chiefly to the printing of 3D plastic construction models by architects and building developers. The printer allows firms to present tangible, interactive prototypes with details and designs to clients, rather than simply discussing a 2D drawing. The technology was first introduced into universities in the 2000s and saw students using 3D printing in various design projects. It has since filtered into use in forward-thinking local firms

for “rapid prototyping”, as Jaco Jonker, candidate architect at Paragon Architects, explains. “3D printers in South Africa are primarily used for non-workable rapid prototypes. This means that the objects printed by plastic 3D printers are not usable as working or engineering models able to withstand actual forces and temperatures,” he says. Certain manufacturing and design firms have also started to employ 3D printing in the production of smaller design elements, such as chairs, lights, moulds, glazing brackets, thresholds, and experimental ironmongery. Fellow Paragon Architects candidate architect, Francois Mercer, describes the local uptake of the technology as “decent”, despite only one South African firm – Morgan 3D Printers – having thus far developed a bespoke local technology offering. In 2013, Morgan founder and former hacker, Quentin Harley, won the Uplift Prize for the homegrown design of the RepRap Morgan 3D printer. The prize seeks to advance technologies that have a high multiplier effect in uplifting the condition of people earning under $1/day. Harley is using the $20 000 (R259 000) in prize funding to focus on ramping up low-cost, accessible 3D printers in South Africa. “We use the large [Morgan 3D printer] version in our office as it is able to print large prints in a third of the time of international printers,” says Mercer.

Paragon Architects makes use of a locally produced Morgan 3D printer to produce tangible interactive prototypes of building projects.

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THE SUSTAINABILITY QUESTION The environmental impact of 3D printing in the construction industry remains largely untested. Technology proponents argue that 3D printing houses saves on transport and emission costs but the environmental impact of 3D printing often does not take into account the impact of the manufacture and development of the technology itself. Sustainability questions are largely dependent on the material used during the printing process. The printed prototypes are normally non-recyclable plastics, while more traditional building materials, such as concrete, are used during the printing of the building itself. International design agencies such as USbased Emerging Objects are, however, currently experimenting with new materials and methods of organic form-making for modular architectural elements. They have already developed a 3D-printable material, fabricated from salt that is harvested from the San Francisco Bay, which is used to produce large-scale, lightweight, additive manufactured structures.


© Institute Advanced Architecture Catalonia

Internationally, 3D printing in construction is progressing and has evolved beyond simple prototyping. Several global examples using the technology exist, including Shanghai firm WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, which has used large 3D printers to spray a mixture of quick-drying cement and recycled raw materials. The system fabricates blocks off site by layering the cement mix in a diagonally reinforced pattern

before the blocks are assembled on site. The company believes this method will one day be used to build large houses and skyscrapers. In November 2014, project development group Skanska and UK-based Loughborough University signed a deal to develop what they describe as the “world's first commercial concrete printing robot”. The aim of the agreement is to allow Skanska to use – under licence – 3D concrete printing technology developed through research at Loughborough University, applying it to real applications. The printer deposits a high-performance concrete precisely, under computer control, by laying down successive layers of concrete until the entire object is created. It can make items that cannot be manufactured by conventional processes, such as complex structural components, curved cladding panels and architectural features. “3D concrete printing, when combined with a type of mobile prefabrication centre, has the potential to reduce the time needed to create complex elements of buildings from weeks to hours. We expect to achieve a level of quality and efficiency that has never been seen before in construction,” says Rob Francis, Skanska director of innovation and business improvement. In Spain, a group of construction and design specialists, led by the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), has successfully constructed the world’s first micro-refined concrete 3D-printed pedestrian bridge. The structure, printed off site and installed in a park in Madrid earlier this year, is 12m long and 1.75m wide, and is the first time that 3D printing technology was used in the field of civil engineering for a public space.

Printed off site and installed in a park in Madrid, this is the world’s first micro-refined concrete 3D-printed pedestrian bridge.

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The cost of constructing a pilot 3D-printed house in Russia

24 hours The amount of time it took to build the 3D-printed house

This 38m2 house was 3D-printed by San Franciso-based start-up Apis Cor in Stupino, Russia, in just one day.

A HOUSE IN A DAY An impressive global example of the potential of 3D printing in the construction industry came in December 2016, when San Francisco-based startup Apis Cor successfully printed a 38m2 house at the company’s test facility in the town of Stupino, Russia, in less than 24 hours. The printing of load-bearing walls, partitions and the building envelope was fully automated. The layers build up to form an inner and outer structure for each wall, leaving them to be filled later with insulation. Apis Cor’s proprietary 3D printing technology, which was developed by company CEO and founder Nikita Chen-iun-tai, comprises a construction 3D printer, a mobile automated concrete mix and supply unit, design and printing software, a control programme, and a dry mixture storage silo. Resembling the arm of a tower crane, the printer is able to rotate around its axis, which means it is compact, whereas usually a printer would need to be larger than the object it is printing. Only two people are required to oversee the process. The printer uses a concrete mix to produce the house.

As the printer prints self-bearing walls and partitions, it is up to 70% cheaper than houses built using low-cost construction blocks (both in terms of the material costs and the speed of construction). Apis Cor’s 3D printing technology is also able to fill the void between the inner and outer concrete walls, creating insulation – in the case of the pilot printed house – comprising a combination of solid insulating material LOGICPIR and a liquid polyurethane composition. Windows were manually installed as the wall structure progressed, while a flat roof was also manually installed once the wall structure had been successfully printed. The roofing is made of Logicroof polymer membranes that were welded together with special equipment using hot air. The house interior includes a short passage, a bathroom, a living room and a compact functional kitchen. The final construction cost of the printed house amounted to $10 134, or around $275/m2 (approximately R3600/m2). “This cost includes all the work that was done to make a complete house: labour and materials for the

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© Paragon Architects

The Morgan 3D printer at work: The printer reads a 3D digital model and lays down successive layers of printing medium. These layers fuse to create the item.

construction of the foundation, the roof, exterior and interior finishing works, the installation of heat insulation, the windows, the floors and ceilings,” Apis Cor explains, adding: “We’re confident that the house in Stupino will convince the world that 3D technology in the construction market is a reality.” The house is currently used for demonstration purposes to show off the capabilities of the printer.

THE SOUTH AFRICAN CONTEXT Three-dimensional printing of houses in South Africa – despite the creeping housing backlog – is a far more nuanced debate. As Mercer points out, employment considerations need to be taken into account with the introduction of any new technology that potentially threatens jobs. “I do not know of anyone in South Africa doing 3D printed buildings, but we need to be sensitive to its possible implications. South Africa is sensitive to job creation and if job security is threatened by new technology, it is met with resistance.” Jonker is similarly emphatic that the 3D printing of buildings cannot viably be followed in South Africa, lobbying instead for a combination of 3D printing technology with vernacular construction techniques to create a hybrid product. Additionally, Mercer cautions that, from an architectural perspective, there is a risk that building with robotics for efficiency will encourage a “copypaste” approach that could sterilise the country’s built environment.

Should 3D printing reach this point, government would find itself having to regulate a fledging industry with little legal precedent. South Africa currently does not have in place any regulations that govern 3D printing, aside from regulations ensuring that machine operators are sufficiently protected when handling printing with hazardous materials. Mercer adds, however, that 3D printing is increasingly being used in South Africa in engineering applications that support the design and construction process. “For example, shopfront designers and designer manufacturers are now using 3D printers to print new profiles for aluminium extrusions for projects that require special design resolution,” he comments. Jonker, meanwhile, reaffirms that 3D printing technology provides a means for those across the built environment value chain to easily manufacture complex geometry that would otherwise be impossible to construct using more traditional methods.


Paragon Architects: Jaco Jonker, Francois Mercer,,,, 011 482 3781 Morgan 3D printers: Quentin Harley, www.morgan3dp,, 012 004 1883 Apis Cor:,

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FROM GRA I The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), now situated at Cape Town’s Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront, opened its doors to the public on 22 September 2017. From functioning as a grain silo in the 1920s, the building now hosts a diverse showcase of some of Africa’s best art. The architectural interventions in the building are also spectacular. WORDS M A RY A N N E CON S TABLE IMAGES IWAN BAAN, THE ROYAL PORTFOLIO


egeneration work began in the Silo District of the Waterfront in 2010, and the development will be completed by the end of 2017. It consists of six contemporary mixed-use buildings surrounding a central circular court. At its heart stands what was an old grain silo built in 1921 – at the time the tallest building in Cape Town at 57m high. The precinct is particularly well located in close proximity to the city and the outside spaces are as much of a draw card as the buildings. For many years the old grain silo lay derelict, with the surrounding area serving as a parking lot (above left). The building was “hidden in plain sight,” says Mark Noble, V&A Waterfront Silo District development manager. The V&A Waterfront’s desire was to celebrate the building like a “cathedral” in the square, and its use as

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the new home for the Zeitz MOCAA emerged like a missing puzzle piece during 2007, when now museum director Mark Coetzee started discussions about finding a space to house contemporary African art with Jochen Zeitz. The V&A Waterfront funded the R500million redevelopment cost while Zeitz is loaning his collection as the museum’s founding collection. Serendipitously, renowned British designer Thomas Heatherwick also had the opportunity to visit the abandoned building in 2007, and later Heatherwick Studio was appointed to design the new intervention. A partnership began with Cape Town-based architectural team Van der Merwe Miszewski Architects, Rick Brown & Associates and Jacobs Parker Architects. The concept phase of the structural design was led by Arup and implemented by local firm Sutherland.

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IN TO GLORY CARVING AN ICON The existing grain silo structure comprises two distinct and independent parts. The first part is a storage annex that consists of 42 connected round concrete cylinders, 33m high and 5.5m in diameter, for storing grain. The second part is an elevator tower which is a steel framed structure (with concrete infill walls) spanning the full 57m height, once used to haul grain upwards into the silo bins for sorting, cleaning and weighing. It was decided to keep the majority of the existing building. “One of the key sustainable aspects of the project was choosing not to knock down such a vast quantity of [existing] concrete,” says Heatherwick. “We decided to deconstruct rather than construct a new mega project.” The renovation of the top half (now a hotel) of the elevator tower is the most dramatic architectural intervention visible from the outside. The concrete infill walls were removed to reveal the framed structure and huge curved “bubble” windows were installed in the openings on the first five floors (an open roof garden sits at the top). The windows are 6m high and 4m wide, and are constructed of faceted pieces of performance glazing to create a sense of soft pillows pushing outwards from the concrete frame. The existing outside wall covering – layers of cream-coloured paint – was stripped to reveal the raw concrete. The museum itself is housed in the storage annex. Perhaps the most extraordinary part of the project is the seven-storey atrium carved through the centre of the storage annex and the lower portion of the elevator tower in the shape of a grain kernel. Stepan Martinovsky from Heatherwick Studios says most museums around the world are iconic from the outside but here, that concept “is almost inverted and the iconic piece is on the inside and draws people in”. It’s a way of respecting the heritage of the outside of the building, while sparking people’s curiosity to come inside, particularly those who might not ordinarily be inclined to visit an art museum.

CREATIVE ENERGY The atrium is naturally ventilated, leaving the 80 different and interconnected galleries to comply with

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We shape a better world

Collaborative engineering design The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa and The Silo Hotel at the V&A Waterfront Arup worked closely with Heatherwick Studio to unlock the feasibility of their bold architectural design for the V&A Grain Silo by engineering the structures, building services and faรงades to scheme design stage. The V&A Waterfront subsequently appointed Arup to take the mechanical and wet services, and the complex faรงade, through the detailed design phases to completion. | | | |

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the strict Category A climate control requirements. “You can’t easily climate control the atrium space because it’s too high. Therefore, each gallery is like a little museum on its own,” says Coetzee. Skylights at the top of each silo bin ensure plenty of natural light floods into the atrium space, which eliminates the need for artificial lighting. The world-class climate control system for the galleries, which vary quite significantly in size, not only carefully protects the art by keeping the air at 22°C and 50% humidity, but enables the museum to secure international travelling exhibitions. Unlike the raw textured concrete of the existing structure, the galleries are white boxes made of drywall materials, with concrete floors and soffits of varying heights from which artwork can be suspended. The insides of the galleries are functional and neutral with white walls and ultraviolet-filtered strip lighting. “Artists want to transform that cube into a space that’s theirs,” says Coetzee. There is a 1m service void below each floor through which the mechanical ventilation system runs, out of sight of the rest of the museum’s activities. Conventional museums are inherently not particularly sustainable in terms of energy use because the artificial lighting and strict air-conditioning requirements can absorb up to 60% of the building’s running costs, says Coetzee. However, the Zeitz ventilation system is serviced by a sea water cooling plant (that serves the entire Silo District), which uses cool water from the ocean to assist in climate control, thus reducing the energy bill. All fittings are otherwise as energy- and water-efficient as possible. Noble says the V&A Waterfront is investigating installing a reverse osmosis desalination plant for the Silo District, which will make a difference to potable water usage, although the museum uses little water. While on site, care was taken to recycle as much of the extracted materials as possible, explains Dale Blanshard from contractor WBHO. The concrete and brickwork used in the layer works and 7100m3 of extracted reinforcing was recycled. “What we are also really proud of is that the entire contract was done with local contractors and labour, right down to the final grinding and polishing of the scallops,” he says.

Cost of entry is free for under 18s, single day entry R180, annual membership R250. Free to African citizens on Wednesdays between 10am and 1pm

Noble says that although the V&A Waterfront would have liked to pursue a Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) Green Star SA Rating, no specific rating tool for museums currently exists and, besides, to do so at this stage would be very expensive for such an old and complex building, considering the budgetary constraints.

80 galleries over 9 floors, 6000m2 of exhibition space

CULTURAL CONTRIBUTION Jochen Zeitz believes the not-for-profit museum (the first of its kind on the continent) will change people’s perception and understanding of African art, opening up the stage to international visitors and locals alike by telling the story of African history through art and culture. The museum also intends to run educational programmes to bring African art to life for children (for whom entry will always be free), as well as other public activities and events that will extend out of the building. Coetzee echoes Zeitz’s sentiment: “You empower people when you say that their culture, visuals and artefacts are worth preserving and worth building cathedrals for. We always go and see art from elsewhere being elevated to preciousness. We need to do that for our art.”

For more gallery images and a video of Zeitz MOCAA, visit

7100m3 of steel reinforcing was extracted from the concrete during demolition and recycled for construction

Jochen Zeitz is the former CEO responsible for the turnaround at PUMA sportswear, founder of the Zeitz Foundation and The Long Run, co-founder with Richard Branson of The B Team, owner of Segera Retreat and self-professed warrior for the planet

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POWER IN THE VALLEY A new multipurpose agricultural barn, known as the Power Barn, which has an array of solar PV panels on its roof, was recently built on a smallholding in Noordhoek, and is a reflection of the client’s passion for holistic sustainable living. WORDS M A RY A NNE CONSTABLE PHOTO GR APHS DAVE SOUTHWOOD

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n the folds of the Noordhoek valley on the western flank of the Cape Peninsula lies a small piece of paradise. Retired general practitioner, Dr Caryl Richmond bought a smallholding in the De Goede Hoop Estate in 2005 and has transformed the land into an agricultural gem that showcases sustainable living. An olive grove of 212 trees spans 1.5acres of the 10acre property. Closer to the homestead, figs, citrus and other fruit, and nut trees, as well as a vegetable garden are interspersed with indigenous fynbos. A natural wetland covers a large part of the property. Recently, Richmond added a multipurpose barn to the property, adjacent to the existing house, with the aim of housing her olive press, propagating fynbos and perhaps most noticeably, using the roof as a platform for harvesting the sun’s energy.

SUSTAINABLE PHILOSOPHY Richmond’s passion for the environment and sustainability was initiated by her pre-medical school studies in zoology and entomology, and has now found its expression in retirement.

“In 2005 I had the privilege to stop working and decided to dedicate the rest of my life to learning about how to protect the environment. A permaculture course in the Klein Karoo taught me how to farm in sync with nature. A sustainable building course provided the rudiments of how to analyse materials and building techniques to find those causing least environmental impact. Following that I wanted to learn how to live sustainably, simply and use less – and then share the knowledge and share the joy.” When Richmond bought the smallholding, the existing alien blue gum, pine and poplar trees as well as smaller alien species on the site were felled and removed to rehabilitate the land and provide a habitat for local indigenous biodiversity – fynbos and wetland biome and the creatures they support.


Location • De Goede Hoop Estate, Noordhoek Site size • 10acres Building footprint • 162m² Dates • April 2016 - March 2017 Budget • R7million

Indigenous vegetation, such as silver trees, surround the property, while fynbos propogation takes place in a greenhouse space enclosed in polycarbonate cladding, seen in the background here, on the south side of the barn.

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In 2009/10, the new olive trees were planted, partly due to their high nutritional (and medicinal) value, which fitted in with Richmond’s ethos of eating healthily, as well as their ability to survive the effects of climate change. At the time, the small existing labourers’ cottage was converted into a house that was later extended to accommodate her large family. The felled trees provided ample timber for the floors, roof trusses, lintels, and joinery.

THE CITY OF CAPE TOWN’S SMALL SCALE EMBEDDED GENERATION (SSEG) PROGRAMME This allows small power generators such as residential or commercial solar or wind turbine installations to feed power back to the City’s electricity grid. However, the generator must remain a net user of power over the course of a year. If power produced exceeds power used, the City will not pay for this.

THE POWER BARN The next chapter in Richmond’s sustainable story was constructing a new multipurpose farm building, completed in early 2017, to make space for various farm-related activities: olive pressing; fynbos propagation; preparing of honey (from the farm’s three bee hives) and preserves; and more (see boxout p64). In parallel to this need for space, Richmond started monitoring her electricity usage to use less, and the idea arose to make the roof of the new farm building a renewable energy receptacle that would generate clean electricity. Coupled with its agricultural barn aesthetic, it’s no surprise that the new building is referred to as the “Power Barn”. Andre Harms, sustainability engineer at Ecolution Consulting, who was involved in the project from early on, helped guide the sustainable design of the barn. “It’s imperative to holistically embed sustainability thinking, practices and intervention into design, construction, equipment and system selection and operation on a day-to-day basis,” he says. And this approach is evident in the final building design.

13 000 kWh per year

12 700 kWh per year

Power Barn energy consumption (whole property)

production from current solar installation

The roof faces due north with a pitch of 45 degrees, and accommodates 24 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels that each produce 305W peak power, producing a total of 7.3kW, explains Dave Liddell from Solarex, the system installer. This amounts to 12 700kWh per year while the farm currently uses around 13 000kWh per year. The panels provide around 40% of the farm’s power needs, the other 60% being drawn from the city’s grid for usage at night, as there is no battery storage. Due to the panels feeding electricity back into the grid during the day, the net import is only 30% of the total. Richmond plans to wait a few years until the technology improves to a point where batteries are more affordable and can be recycled in an environmentally friendly way, before she buys one.

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The Power Barn is built into the slope of the mountain so it is double-storey at the front and single-storey at the back.

She says since the beginning of 2017 (over a period of six months), the installation on the barn has saved over six cubic tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. The roof has capacity for around 52 panels, according to Liddell, however, the production capacity is more than can be handled by the confines of the City’s SSEG programme (see boxout p58). Richmond’s dream is to eventually be able to produce enough power to cover not only her own needs but to share with her neighbours.


• 7.3kW Solar PV installation • Steel frame provides flexibility with layout • Reclaimed timber used • Rainwater storage • Blackwater/greywater connects to biodigester for energy and irrigation water • Significant insulation • Double glazed windows • Heat pump-driven underfloor heating system powered by solar PV • No paint used; no excessive fixtures and fittings • Natural sunlight via multiple skylights • Energy-efficient lighting (LEDs) • Natural ventilation • All vegetative matter recycled for compost or mulch • Locally indigenous fynbos propagation • Emphasis on manual solutions and using local labour and materials

AN AGRICULTURAL BUILDING “Sustainability is honesty – honesty of materials and honesty of building techniques,” says Power Barn architect, Mark Thomas. The natural response to designing this farm building was to follow an agricultural barn concept, he explains. The barn has a steel frame that creates the core structural skeleton. “Then we looked at how to clad it - what kind of clothes does it wear? Wearing fleece or down provides insulation to keep you warm. Similarly the roof, floor and walls of the building

are heavily insulated to keep it warm in winter and cool in summer. This is a pragmatic approach to sustainability.” The insulation comes in the form of bagged brickwork infill panels and timber cladding reclaimed from the site, which is also used for the ceilings and beams. The timber provides natural aesthetic warmth to the interior spaces, which are lit up by the sun when six metres of sliding timber doors are opened on the northern side, bringing the outside spaces in.

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The building’s form was partially constrained by the design guidelines provided by the De Goede Hoop Estate. These defined the pitch and height of the corrugated roof – the barn is built into the slope of the mountain so it is double-storey at the front and single-storey at the back. Two unpainted, battered concrete walls flank the sides at the front end of the building, where there is a “Zen room” – a yoga studio/exercise gym/music room – upstairs (pictured above). Instead of rammed earth, which would have been the first choice for Richmond, a very weak concrete mix was combined with local koffie klip stones and sand found on site.

The thickness and heavy mass of these walls also helps to provide insulation. Solar also powers a specially designed underfloor heating system. Liddell says it is divided into four zones: the Zen room and office (suspended timber floors); bathroom; staff room; and kitchen (concrete slabs). Specialised plastic PEX piping with no joints – to avoid the possibility of leaks – is concealed in the floors in a continuous loop. A 7.2kW heat pump uses the energy from the solar PV panels on the roof to heat water stored in two standard 150litre geysers on ground level. Four smaller pumps draw water from the tanks, which circulates through the pipes that have aluminium insulation underneath in order to reflect the radiant heat upwards and into the rooms. “There is no consumption of water, only circulation,” says Liddell. A third geyser supplies hot water for washing. The heat pump can produce enough heat to keep the floors at 22°C. “The total area of flooring heated is 92m², so the system produces 78W/m². It’s like having an old light bulb under each square metre,” he says. The fynbos propagation area, which is situated on the south side of the building enclosed in polycarbonate cladding, does not feature underfloor heating although Liddell says in future flexible pipes

The 6m-long sliding timber doors on the northern side of the barn slide away to open up the space to plenty of natural light and sun, creating a seamless transition between inside and outside.

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will be led underneath the seedbeds to heat the growing media at the required height. To maintain the industrial look of the building, all the equipment for the heating, pumps and piping is exposed. This also extends to the electrical fittings, which are surface-mounted to maintain flexibility of the use of the spaces. A power track runs below the ridge of the ceiling. From here smaller power conduits can run to wherever they are required.

OPEN SPACE A key element of the design was flexibility of the interior spaces, which was enabled by the steel frame. A timber bridge that connects the office area to the Zen room allows the central space to be double volume, and the timber staircase can be lifted by a winch to completely free up the ground floor space for activities. This space could easily be filled by an extended upper level if required, explains Thomas, “without requiring further planning approval or structural input from engineers”. Richmond says the steel frame is durable, despite the fact that the inside spaces are flexible, multifunctional, and will change over time. “A sustainable building is one that serves a useful purpose for a

long time without needing major upkeep,” she says. Multi-functionality adds to the longevity because the space can adapt as needs change. The project will leave a long-lasting sustainable legacy as an example of encouraging symbiosis between water and the land, and harnessing renewable energy. It’s been a learning process for everyone, Thomas adds, but a positive one. And the learning will continue as the farm evolves. WATCH: To view a video of this project, head to our YouTube channel:


Client: Dr Caryl Richmond, Architect: Mark Thomas,,, 021 685 2738 Sustainability consultant: Ecolution, Andre Harms,,, 021 385 0909 Solar installation: Solarex, Dave Liddell,,, 021 531 3219 Consulting engineers: Stac Consulting, Gus Venter,,, 021 913 0616 Contractor: Revcon, Brian Valentine,,, 082 537 6354 Fire-fighting equipment and irrigation: Fanie Kriel,, 082 553 5733

A MULTIPURPOSE SPACE Olive pressing Olive oil, table olives and olive oil soap are produced at the farm from seven different varietals of olive trees. For oil, the handpicked whole olives are fed into the olive press hopper where they are crushed. From there they are malaxed for an hour until the oil starts floating on top of the paste. The paste is then centrifuged to separate oil from fruit water and solids. The oil is stored for a few days to allow settling of any remaining sediment and then it is bottled, ready for use. The postpress paste is used as a wood preserver and insecticide. It can also be sundried and used as fire starters, or, given time, it can be composted. Currently the oil, table olives and soap are used by the family or given away as gifts. There are plans for it to be sold locally in future, but production needs to increase for that to become viable. Plant propagation Richmond says mentoring local biodiversity is important, as is helping the less fortunate. She sees propagation of local fynbos (including Proteas, Ericas and Restios), olive trees and other locally indigenous plants as a way to achieve both goals. The barn’s propagation facility is the starting point of this dream. Honey Three hives are kept on the farm and honey is harvested for family use and friends. The bees aid in the pollination of the food crops and fynbos. Mushrooms These are highly nutritious and relatively easy to grow. Some mushrooms grow wild and can be harvested from nature, and some require a more controlled environment. Richmond hopes to grow oyster mushrooms in one of the barn’s cool, dark store rooms. Other Charcuterie and cheeses using ethically sourced products, and local preserves will be produced on site in future. A multi-purpose Zen room/yoga studio for sharing with others – exercise, art, music, and more.

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Lords View Industrial Park in Gauteng is a sustainable large-scale logistics and industrial park, covering 1.3million square metres. It rose from the lunarscape of an old quarry, and its green reinvention won the Overall Transformation Award at the 2017 SAPOA Property Development Awards for Innovative Excellence.


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Total size • 1.3million square metres Unit size • 10 000m2 Development • Eight phases from 2010 to 2017 Land given over to communal areas • 65 000m² of the 1.3million square metres (roughly 5%)

here is often a disconnect between the concept of sustainability and the reality of industrial property. The divergent demands and complexities aren’t the only reason it’s not top of mind. In an economic downturn anything with a cost implication is unlikely to get near the boardroom table. On the surface – almost literally – the land on which Lords View Industrial Park was created should, or would, have fallen into that category. A lifeless moonscape, where green was the last colour imaginable. Warwick Lord is CEO of Lord Trust Developers, the developer and project manager of Lords View Industrial Park in Chloorkop. During the process of developing a manufacturing facility in Chloorkop, they discovered a massive demand for quality industrial and logistics premises. Lord set out to find additional land: “The ward councilor showed us nearby land previously owned by Lafarge – an old sand mining quarry of about 1.3km2.” The moonscape. Whenever bedrock had been reached, the quarrying moved elsewhere on the land, so there were multiple borrow pits, many full of rain water (bottom right), which had created an artificial wetland. It took a substantial amount of time negotiating the deal and completing the due diligence, which was extended three times while ascertaining the availability of electricity, assessing the access road infrastructure and obtaining environmental approvals. The advantage of the time lag, says Lord, was that they could brainstorm and problem-solve the project: “We had these huge borrow pits that either needed to be filled – at great expense – or, an alternative needed to be found. “In addition, waste management company Enviroserv was our neighbour. They own landfill sites and had been flaring their methane gas for carbon credits. They knew that we would be large energy consumers, so we had very early discussions with them about selling energy into Lords View.” This was a way to overcome the largest challenge on the project – the electricity moratorium at the time, which meant the park would need to find another way to provide power. Lord is forthcoming about the sustainability goals of the park: “When we first began this project, the landscape here didn’t encourage thinking around sustainability. But as we began to work with the unique considerations of this land and its topography, ideas emerged. We had these borrow pits (dams) and we had possible green energy, so there was potential for a green solution. We wanted to create something really unique: a sustainable logistics and industrial park. But how to achieve it?”

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STORM WATER ATTENUATION The professional team recognised there would need to be storm water attenuation for each individual stand, so envisaged creating a macro storm water solution using the borrow pits. “Essentially, we needed to manage rainwater on and off a 1.3km2 area. Reticulating storm water over that size area makes for some pretty interesting engineering.” Lord says: “The municipality bought into the idea, which was quite novel. Back then, macro storm water attenuation was new to municipalities’ way of thinking. Legislation changes surrounding the handling of storm water were recently implemented and we were right at the beginning of that.” Tjaart van der Walt of Knight Piésold was the consulting engineer tasked with resolving the key challenge of functionality, in particular, these ponds/ dams. The original old quarry consisted of varying elevations, so the borrow pits were shaped to create four dam structures at diminishing heights – as soon as the first fills with water, it spills over its wall into the next dam. These attenuation ponds release storm water at a slower rate than the predevelopment run-off. This green belt or lung of the development is multipurpose – storm water retention to attenuate the entire park’s storm water, water storage, and irrigation for the roadside landscaping. More than that, it looks attractive, particularly with the marshy wetland between dams three and four.

A SENSE OF PLACE Lord wanted Lords View to be an industrial park unlike any other – he wanted to create a strong sense of place. Functionality for the dams was at the core, but Lord determined the ponds would also fulfil another function:

aesthetics. “Why shouldn’t an industrial park have a lifestyle element? Let’s make the dams visually appealing, like a waterfront development, where people can walk, run and enjoy their lunch in appealing surroundings.” Neville White of Uys & White was the landscape architect. One of the advantages of the Lords View topography was the elevations created by a combination of mined and unmined areas – it presented a unique opportunity to create a landscape that was unlike the flatness of Johannesburg. Looking at Lords View from Allandale Road, the first three properties are visible, each one slightly above the other. The original borrow pits filled with rainwater had created an artificial wetland that attracted a variety of species of flora and fauna. The landscape architects could capitalise on this in terms of planting. The ponds provide irrigation of the common areas, including the landscaped sidewalks, the feature garden at the guardhouse and the green belt surrounding the dam. Initially, the indigenous planting and landscaping followed the different phases of the development, but landscaping and construction aren’t happy bedfellows. The bulk of the landscaping was installed at the completion of the existing phases, and the word “park” for this logistics and industrial development has taken on a second meaning – a far greener one. Increasingly, as Lord envisaged, employees are enjoying the surroundings, and using the landscaping elements to walk, jog and sit in nature. Uys & White have created a compulsory landscaping guideline for owners, which includes preferred use of indigenous plant species. Its principles and parameters advise avoiding overly water-dependent plants. The park’s common areas will now be managed by the Property Owners’ Association.

The borrow pits that were initially on site have been retrofitted into storm water attenuation dams, also used for water storage and irrigation for the entire park’s roadside landscaping.

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• Borrow pits remoulded as macro storm water attenuation ponds • Wetland around ponds rehabilitated to encourage indigenous plant growth and the return of fauna • Removal of alien and invasive vegetation • Indigenous species planted throughout common areas • Fine sand tailings created in the quarrying process have been removed, and used for capping of Enviroserv landfills • All on-site rock was crushed and used for roads and building up platforms for individual stands • Power from 24kW landfill gas-to-energy plant

POWER AGREEMENT Co-operation between neighbours worked well on this project. During construction, one of the unexpected discoveries at the Lords View site was the extent of the tailings (fine sand discarded as a by-product of mining operations). Tailings are not stable and therefore cannot be built upon, and when compressed, have claylike, near impermeable properties. Lords View provided Enviroserv with the tailings, which are effective as capping on their four landfill site’s cells. Enviroserv’s landfill sites presented two potential sources of power. The sites produce methane gas that Enviroserv harvests (and flares), thereby earning carbon credits – methane has greater global warming potential than carbon dioxide and it’s better to burn it than let it escape into the atmosphere. Lord began discussions with Enviroserv as to how to use this potential green power. “There’s a massive advantage to using green energy, and having a dual power source. If there is a problem with Eskom power, having an alternative source avoids the costly back-up. Both the capital and running costs of generators is very expensive, and not environmentally friendly – when those generators start up, you are running a massive diesel engine.”

Lord and the Ekurhuleni Municipality have spent many years in discussions over the possible logistics of a municipal solid waste-to-energy plant, destined to be built on three hectares in Lords View once the government contracts have been finalised. “It’s a very expensive line item, about R1.5 to R2billion to put up that plant, because of the ‘scrubbing’ technology – if you are burning litter, it’s black smoke; you have to clean that smoke to create energy, without it affecting the environment negatively,” explains Lord. Currently, Lords View has an installed capacity of 24kW. With a municipal solid-waste-to-energy plant, that would add 19.2kW, nearly doubling what is already on site. Waste-to-energy plants along with recycling are the only technology that will reduce dependency on land filling, by reducing waste mass by up to 95%.

THE LOCAL COMMUNITY From the outset, local ward councillors guided Lords View Industrial Park on employing a community liaison officer. The park is in Chloorkop, and employment and upskilling was an integral part of the development. This focus involved participation of key community members. Lord says: “We developed a framework for how we employ at Lords View. We would identify the skillset required – whether labourers, drivers or engineers – and we’d all work towards supplying those from the local community. We then took that philosophy to our clients in the park, so the bar was raised from bricklayers to, say, an IT specialisation.”

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CAPE TOWN WATER SUPPLY IS A CATASTROPHE THERE HAVE BEEN TIMES WHEN WATER HAS BEEN STRESSED, but in terms of sustainable water, the supply has completely dried up.

is also a huge concern and Water Rhapsody provides water filtration to ensure excellent quality water whether from rain or municipal supply.

Future municipal supplies may come from two sources. Those are desalination of sea water which Cape Town will soon find is as unpalatable as it is expensive. Besides desalination is massively expensive in terms of energy, which is in any case, in short supply in South Africa. A second non-sustainable supply may come from the TMG aquafer – a fossil body of water without any present day recharge.

Firstly however, it is imperative that everybody minimizes their demand for water and this is done by the re-use of grey water for irrigation purposes, minimizes toilet flushing with a multi-flush and re-uses swimming pool back-wash water, returned safely to the pool from whence the water came.

However, a supply not considered by the Municipality is rainwater. This is because these politicians and bureaucrats overlook this source of water because they cannot sell it to you. This is the harvesting of rainwater for entire households to use with an off-the-grid system. Thus bath, shower, hand basin, laundry, toilet flushing and even drinking water may come from your own roof. When water-shedding (outages) are implemented later in the 2017/18 summer, this system not only guarantees a reduction of municipal supply, but also an indemnity against outages. Water quality

All of the Water Rhapsody products have been designed in Cape Town for use in South Africa and no technology has been designed elsewhere.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION Please see our website or feel free to give us a call on 021 531 9864

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Unilever occupies a large section of Phase One of Lords View. The park’s sustainable focus was a key motivating factor in locating the factory there.

Lord can’t speak highly enough of his 100% local, black-owned and run security company, All Is Well, which began its business here and now has numerous other clients: “They are now a formidable force in the security industry.” Education is also a key sustainability component. Lords View has built three classrooms for the local school, sponsors numerous events, and is funding a chartered accountant (CA) student at the University of Johannesburg.

SUSTAINABLE INDUSTRIAL CLIENTS Unilever’s Magnum ice cream plant (see earthworks issue 30) took up a large portion of Phase One of Lords View because the sustainability focus aligned with theirs. Other large companies followed – Foschini, Stuttaford Van Lines and Cochrane Steel. By the end of phase eight, there will be up to 20 clients in the park. Unilever, which bought 10.5hectares in Phase One, sees the company’s involvement in Lord’s View as a way to tie in with stated ambitions to make all operations carbon positive by 2030. Sibonile Dube, director of corporate affairs: South Africa for Unilever, says: “We were drawn to the fact that Lords View Industrial Park has been planned as an environmentally friendly, eco-sensitive industrial and logistics park. The factory uses efficient motors, drive mixers and air compressors, reducing energy requirement levels substantially and the application of smart water efficiency technology, enabling the recovery and reuse of water used in production phases.” Equites Property Fund, a specialist industrial property investor and developer, procured 20ha of land at Lords View for the development of warehousing and logistics facilities. Jeremy Cooper, Gauteng regional manager for Equites, says: “In addition to the benefits Lords View offers from an infrastructure and location perspective, the green credentials offered are

attractive to Equites as well as our occupiers. There’s an overarching series of sustainability guidelines and imperatives for all owners and lessees in the park to adhere to, which are managed through the Property Owners’ Association. “In all our projects, Equites looks hard at environmental and sustainability initiatives, and we’ve engaged with consultants and the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) for guidance regarding sustainability, and are actively pursuing GBCSA Green Star SA ratings.” All of the clients have bought into more than the sustainability vision – they responded well to the development of a sense of place. Lord says: “We spend so much time at work. We leave home in the dark and return in the dark. The idea of an attractive working environment in an industrial park had a great deal of traction with potential clients. It’s been incredibly gratifying.”


Developer: Lord Trust Developers, Warwick Lord, Project managers: Lord Trust Developers, Ndaba Ntanzi,, 074 096 5788 Architects: The Creative Axis, Bhavik Ranchod,, 011 339 1217 Civil engineers: Knight Piésold, Tjaart van der Walt, 011 806 7111 Electrical engineers: Topack Consulting, Tommy van Graan, 011 236 3367 Estate managers: GEMS, Andre Roets, 076 013 6435 Green consultants: ECO Assessment, Mark Custers,, 082 857 8480 Landscape architects: Uys & White, Neville White,, 032 947 2401 Landscape contractor: Green Acres, Jacques van Der Merwe, 082 904 7960 Principal civil contractor: Power Construction, Viveka Lowton,, 083 265 545 Security services: All Is Well, Nkosinathi Zondo,, 083 231 3856/011 312 5423 Traffic engineers: Moyeni Professional Engineers, Brian Roberts, 011 682 2759/082 579 6249 Town planners: GIBB - Torben Troup, 082 904 3317

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SCRATCHING THE SURFACE Wall coverings are an essential part of building, which means they can contribute to sustainability and have a significant impact on human health and comfort. earthworks digs deeper into what it really means to be “green” in this context. WORDS M A RY A N N E C ONSTABLE IMAGES ISTOCKPHOTOS, SUPPLIED

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© Bentu

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reenery” was announced the 2017 pantone colour of the year. Perhaps an expression of society's yearning for nature and everything it brings: calm; comfort; earthy textures; vitality; and a sense of connection. A plethora of wall coverings and surface designs awash with botanicals, and natural wood and stone textures have emerged. But what does it mean for wall coverings to be “green” in an eco-friendly way? Greenery the colour is surface deep, but green in the sustainability sense is a far deeper and complex attitude towards a material's composition, manufacture and supply chain.


PAINTING THE PICTURE The most ubiquitously used wall covering is paint because it is simple to apply, cost-effective and offers a protective coating for walls. Russell Gildenhuys, associate interior designer at Collaboration, says the majority of commercial interior spaces are in office blocks that have glazed facades, and therefore few blank interior walls. Thus, there isn’t always a lot of scope for different kinds of wall coverings in office spaces. Generally, a feature wall in the reception or canteen area may have a special covering like wallpaper, cladding or something textured, meaning most other walls are painted. Commercial spaces require long-term durability (with continual use in mind) and easy maintenance is a must. Paint provides this. Residential spaces provide a greater scope for varied wall coverings, whereas commercial spaces must cater to a more universal audience. Most conventional paint additives and solvents are manufactured from petrochemicals (derived from crude oil). Bernhard Lembeck from ProNature Paints, a company that started out in 1997 with an © Google

Environmentally sustainable design consultant, Carin de Beer from Arup, believes “the most sustainable wall covering is no wall covering at all, assuming that the wall adequately serves its purpose of providing shelter from the elements”. However, where wall coverings are required, “ideally one should find a material that performs exceptionally well, is durable, and recyclable or reusable at end of life”. The life cycle process should also consider water and energy usage for production, transportation,

and disposability – the more circular the production process, the more sustainable the product will be.

In an office space, a feature wall in the reception may have a special covering like wallpaper, cladding or something textured.

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Creativity Takes Courage Saint–Gobain is a proud materials partner to the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa and Silo Hotel.

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Most commercial interior spaces are in office blocks that have glazed facades (such as the 4 Star Green Star SA Ernst & Young office at 102 Rivonia Road pictured above), and therefore few blank interior walls. Beyond feature walls in reception areas or canteens, most other walls require long-term durability and easy maintenance is a must. Paint provides this and most large paint manufacturers, and specialist producers now have “eco” paint ranges.

aim to produce paints based purely on sustainable raw materials, says: “The most unsustainable process in making conventional synthetic paints is the conversion of crude oil into useful raw materials and the subsequent manufacture of polymers, solvents and pigments from such raw materials. If you compare the footprint of all the energy used to manufacture synthetic paints versus natural paints it shows that the synthetic footprint is about four times higher than for natural paints.” It’s not only the embodied energy that is high but also the toxins emitted when the paint dries. Of the various ingredients used in typical paint, solvents are probably the most toxic, says Lembeck. These are also referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are useful additions to paint because they help the paint to spread and form a strong protective film – one example is formaldehyde. The problem is that the chemical changes from liquid to gas during the drying process, which can be inhaled and is harmful to health. One approach to making paints safer, Lembeck explains, is to replace solvents with water or natural raw materials. These could be bio-based such as

linseed oil, which can be harvested yearly and is sustainable. Currently most of ProNature’s natural materials are imported but they have conducted trials into growing linseed locally. At this stage it is very costly and it has been a challenge to convince local farmers to use valuable land for returns that are not yet guaranteed, Lembeck adds. Some current challenges with the natural paint market in South Africa include that they “cannot compete with very cheap products and would be found in the higher price range of the paint spectrum available in hardware stores. However, price should not be the only criteria when looking at paints but toxicity and sustainability should also form part of the purchase decision”, says Lembeck. Most large paint manufacturers, such as Dulux and Plascon, now produce “eco” paint ranges, which are lead-free, low-VOC or water-based. Cape Townbased Excelsior Paints has a zero-VOC enviro-range. Dulux’s sustainability initiative, Planet Possible advocates using less paint, with a focus on providing high quality, durable paint that uses fewer resources (because less is needed), has a longer lifespan, and uses packaging that contains less material than

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previous products – material that comes from recycled sources and can be recycled again at end-of-life. Cleaning brushes is also a consideration when it comes to paint, as paint washings should not be poured down the drain into the water stream. Dulux produces a cleaning unit called EnviroWash, which can rinse up to eight brushes simultaneously using half the volume of water required by traditional methods. Most wash products available to painting professionals are expensive, contain bases such as kerosene and glycol solvents, and also emit unpleasant, dangerous fumes that pose health risks to workers. There are also other products that emit solvents, including adhesives, cleaning supplies, and even some home furnishings. “Lots of chemicals are embedded in the materials we use, for instance fire retardants and stain protectors for upholstery and fabric,” says Gildenhuys. We often don’t think about the sustainability of these products but making healthy interior spaces should involve looking at the full picture and not just the wall covering itself.

WRITING ON THE WALL Since around the 13th Century, wallpaper has been a common application, usually with patterned and textured designs, but now “custom wallpapers are becoming more and more prominent where people can reflect their own taste and interest”, explains Karin Lategan, interior designer at Formist Signature Spaces. These can be printed on large-scale flatbed

digital printers to virtually any design desired – photographs, artworks and patterns. “The base products are definitely considered carefully and being green has become incredibly important to customers,” she adds. Traditional (conventional) wallpapers were not particularly eco-friendly as they used chemical solvents and dyes in the manufacturing and printing process of the paper, or were made from synthetic materials. Several products on the market – particularly internationally – are moving towards naturally sourced fibres such as grass, reeds, hemp, silk, and recycled paper products, produced without using chemicals. Using recycled paper requires about half the energy needed to make virgin paper, and less than a third of the amount of water required to make one tonne of paper. Felicity Bassett, managing director of WCI Wallpapers, says: “Wall coverings are available in many more options than they used to be. You can choose from paper, vinyl or non-woven coatings, with paper, fabric or non-woven backings, depending on the project requirements. Vinyl and non-woven products are a lot more durable than paper wall coverings, as they can be washed and tend to stand up to high-traffic areas much more effectively, making it a more cost-effective and sustainable option for retail, hotel, restaurant and corporate environments.” Paper and woven wall coverings are more ecofriendly in terms of raw materials and recyclability,

Custom wall papers can be printed on large-scale flatbed digital printers to virtually any design desired. Printing on paper is a much better option than the chemical dyeing process, while also providing more design versatility.

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Š Donna Lewis


Above: The Double Tree Hotel in Woodstock, Cape Town, which has a 5 Star Green Star SA rating, illustrates the visual versatility of wallpaper. Left: Italtile’s 3D reclaimed pine wooden cladding is made from various preloved sources and therefore each one has a unique story to tell. Wood cladding provides a warm textured quality to a room while offering acoustic properties.

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she adds. WCI Wallpapers print on paper-backed vinyl and the majority of their paper is imported. Neither of these are the most sustainable options, though some international companies are now producing wallpaper with clay coatings instead of vinyl. Bassett says one of the challenges in developing the sustainable wallpaper market is that “luxury clients prefer name brands and most of those suppliers prefer heavy textures that are mostly done with a vinyl coating. In European countries the eco-friendly ranges tend to do well. However, South Africa is a very price-sensitive market at the moment. There also isn’t any building legislation in terms of wallpaper in our country currently, thus most purchasing decisions are still made on aesthetic appeal and price”. Wallpaper adhesives, inks and dyes can also present unsustainable characteristics. Wallpaper glue was originally starch-based, with a strong tacky grip, but following technological advancements over the decades, these became chemically-based, containing more toxic VOCs. Many eco-friendly glues are now water-based and solvent-free. Gildenhuys says printing on paper is a much better option than the

chemical dyeing process, while also providing more design versatility. More manufacturers are also using eco-friendly inks in the production of custom printed wallpapers, such as printing company Swift Displays, that uses water-based dyes released on to the fabric (locally-sourced) using a heat transfer process. The papers and polyester fabrics they use are recyclable. Their UV inks are also VOC-free and are able to bond to all kinds of materials, including natural fibres like grass.

COVERED UP Many other types of products, such as cladding and tiles, are used in interiors, and their use varies depending on trends. Tiles are used predominantly in wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens (walls) or high traffic areas (floors), and provide a durable, easy-to-clean finish. Tiles are commonly made from clay or porcelain (usually glazed) and sometimes stone. These are natural materials but the product’s lifecycle must also be considered. International companies are making strides in eco-friendly production processes, but less is happening in South Africa. Italtile works closely with several of these

GBCSA GREEN STAR SA RATING TOOLS BASE BUILDING AND INTERIORS TOOLS ALL REWARD: n The use of low VOC adhesives n Leaving structure exposed – i.e. not using wall coverings n Low formaldehyde content of composite timber products

© Omexco

INTERIORS TOOL LOOKS AT WALL COVERINGS IN MORE DEPTH AND REWARDS: n Wall coverings certified by a recognised third party certification scheme. This would include FSC-certified timber and products certified by GBCSA endorsed eco-labels n Reused wall coverings ● Purchased from a second-hand retailer ● Items that were used on the current site by a previous tenant ● Relocated to the site from the new tenant’s previous fit out or building n Product stewardship ● Wall covering items must have an end-of-life purpose in the form of either a formalised take back scheme where the manufacturer commits to taking back the material or product at the end of its life for the purpose of reusing or recycling it ● Item has been designed for disassembly ● Procuring products and materials that have long-term durability n Reused, recycled or certified content ● At least 40% of the item’s mass is reused, recycled, or certified content, or a combination n Wall coverings sourced from manufacturing facilities that are certified to ISO 14001

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companies. Although they still import 95% of their supplies from Italy and Spain, the positive stance is that they are bringing more sustainable products to the local market. The Enviro-Glass mosaic range is manufactured from recycled glass, crushed and combined with super resin and then moulded. It is then sprayed with inkjet technology and baked to produce hardwearing mosaic tiles. Italtile’s “Live Green” ethos is built into the design of its buildings and showrooms. The company’s building in Boksburg, Gauteng, features 120 solar photovoltaic panels on the roof, eight 10 000litre rainwater storage tanks, a recycling initiative, and other energy efficiency features. Lategan says reclaimed timber panelling is also becoming a popular interior choice. These add texture while being sustainable. Italtile has a range called 3D wood, which is reclaimed from old ships – these are not locally sourced, but there is potential to do so. Adhesives and sealants can also be toxic. Rubio Monocoat provides VOC-free oils for sealing timber panels, which provide a high quality finish and bring out the natural elements of the wood, rivalling conventional varnish sealants in look and feel. Other local products are available and the market is growing. Gildenhuys mentions a product called Cocomosaic tiles, which are made from coconut shell, mahogany bark or reclaimed timber mosaic pieces that are bonded together. These are lightweight, durable and provide a warm textured quality to a room while offering acoustic properties. Lategan says another option is recycled paper tiles, which use post-consumer paper collected from businesses.

BEST PRACTICE Although cost is a determining factor in the South African market for sustainable wall coverings, de Beer says a 4 Star Green Star SA-rated office building shouldn’t have much of a premium compared to a conventional office building. Part of what needs to change in the country is the mindset that allows monetary costs to outweigh the opportunity costs of using eco-friendly products. Lategan has been involved in the design of several Green Star SA-rated interiors and says attitudes are changing: “Clients are most definitely more interested in pursuing sustainable products since they understand the long-term result better. Also understanding the return on investment in the long term is important.” She says some incentives that might push manufacturers to become more eco-friendly include

EMBODIED ENERGY (mega joules of energy required to make 1kg of paint) Conventional wall paint

88.4 MJ/kg

Natural wall paint

15-20 MJ/kg

Source: ProNature Paints

government incentive schemes encouraging companies to manage their water and waste more efficiently, and assisting in improving energy efficiency by carrying out energy evaluations. Adopting green labels and certifications are a must have. De Beer says the GBCSA is making a significant impact on the built environment and local markets, and will continue to do so with every tool developed and launched. “The office tool, for instance, introduced the low VOC paint requirement, with no low VOC paints available in South Africa at the time. It took a big enough project and a willing manufacturer to introduce the first locally produced low VOC paint.” Although the local market has long strides to make to catch up to international best practice, it’s encouraging to see South African wall covering companies making progress. It may take a few years to catch up, but the writing is on the wall.


DESIGNERS Formist Signature Spaces: Karin Lategan,,, 082 906 3755 Collaboration: Russell Gildenhuys,,, 021 448 8686 ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE DESIGN CONSULTANT Arup: Carin de Beer,,, 021 409 3500 WALLPAPER Swift Displays (digital printing): WCI Wallpapers: Felicity Bassett,,, 021 465 6547 Phillip Jeffries: PAINT ProNature Paints: Bernhard Lembeck,, 0860 105 299 Dulux (Akzonobel):, Rubio Monocoat: Carel Steenkamp,,, 011 466 0273 TILES Italtile: Nicole Russell,,, 011 027 7900 Cocomosaic South Africa:, 083 327 6727

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EARTH Built from the very earth it sits on, House Otto exemplifies integrated sustainability that attracts visitors from far and wide, and is scooping up prestigious industry accolades for architect Paul Marais of Simply Sustainable. Situated along the banks of the Thamalakane River at the gateway of the Okavango Delta in Botswana, the secluded getaway is completely off-grid. WORDS FE M KE VAN ZANDVOORT IMAGES FRANK FEATURES, PAUL MARAIS

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It is also difficult to get alternative technologies accepted, says Marais. “Lots of people bring in low-cost housing technologies, but these are often not accepted by local people because they don’t see wealthy people living in houses using the same technology and they don’t want something that is different. I’ve been trying to make ‘show’ houses so that people can see the benefits for themselves and to create some kind of desire. Otto is a small house – 81m2 – which is slightly bigger than a South African RDP house. If you took government money and put it into rammed earth, you would be able to build an 80m2 house using rammed earth.”


Paul Marais was awarded the AfriSamSAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture and Innovation in the Sustainable Product/ Technology category in October 2016, and the Eco-Logic Climate Change award in June 2017.


ew homes can boast that the architect designed the waste treatment and energy systems, and was the builder and main contractor simultaneously on a project. Simply Sustainable’s Paul Marais performed all these roles at house Otto. “I’m in a very interesting space. I’m an architect but I’m also doing a doctorate on alternative building practices, and I’m spending a lot of time on site, actually building things,” he says. Marais says in some ways his ethos harks back to the Middle Ages, when architects were also builders. He does this partly out of necessity as the use of unconventional materials means he does a lot of experimenting, which mainstream contractors usually shy away from. “We need to change the way we do things,” Marais says. His way is not the only way to live a more sustainable lifestyle, but his holistic approach sets an example worth exploring. Marais has received greater interest in his building approach after recently winning two sustainability awards. “I’m trying to change how people think about sustainability, but it is very challenging. People tend to think that ‘the environment’ is somewhere disconnected from where they live, but, actually, we are one environment and there is no difference between nature and the city,” he says.

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House Otto was built using the rammed earth method, where compressed soil is used to create durable, solid walls. Marais says the idea was to use the existing materials available on site, and to reduce energy. The design minimises both embodied energy through use of local materials, and the energy required to run the building. Made of the earth, the beautiful walls mirror the Botswana landscape, with strong horizontal layers of soil that each have subtle differences in tone. In many rammed earth projects, it is possible to use 100% of the soil on site. In this case the soil on site was not suitable on its own and had to be mixed with other soils. Five different kinds of earth were used – 15% quarry dust was the only soil

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transported by truck, from a quarry 70km away. The earth was stabilised with 8% lime. The compounds in lime make it an exceptional binder for raw materials, which enhances strength and durability because it strengthens over time. “We could have done without that stabilisation, but this way we made it much more durable. It’s water resistant and you vastly improve the acceptability, because when people touch it, it doesn’t rub off on their hands,” explains Marais. The walls are untreated and not sealed, which allows them to be fully breathable and helps to moderate temperatures between the inside and outside. The house has conventional foundations (i.e. concrete strip footings). On top of the foundations, a galvanised steel sheet acts as a barrier against termites, which are a problem in Maun. One way to deal with them is to poison the soil you are building

on. However, Darryl Freeman, owner of house Otto, was reluctant to follow this route, rather choosing the alternative of the steel barrier. Sometimes there is an adverse chemical reaction at the interface between the cement in the foundation and the clay earth wall, which weakens the joint. The barrier provided the added benefit of preventing this. Due to the thick walls and sandy soil, the foundations needed to be big, which used more concrete than Marais would have liked. On his subsequent project at Monaghan Farm, Marais developed cement-free foundations for the rammed earth walls – a solution that can be implemented on other projects going forward. The timber formwork, rammers and all other equipment was handmade on-site. One basic 4.8mx3m shutter was moved around to build sections of the wall. Local builders were trained


Location • Thamalakane River, Maun, Botswana Construction start date • February 2012 Construction end date • October 2012 Size • 81m² Construction cost • R960 000

The soil was placed inside timber formwork (above left) and rammed by hand in horizontal layers (above right). Each layer of soil has a slightly different colour tone, reflecting the sweeping Botswana landscape. (Directly above) natural fibers harvested from local fan palms are packed into the plastic drainex pipes that create the vertical wetland that treats sewerage from the house.

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to construct it, and the mixing and stamping was all done by hand. All the windows and doors are made of stainless steel and were handmade on site by a local welder. “Maun is remote and in terms of construction, everything needs to come up from South Africa on a truck. To have all the windows premade would have been very expensive, but getting the steel is a lot cheaper,” explains Marais. The same timber and plywood used to make the shutters was upcycled to create a living roof, which provides good insulation and keeps the house cool. The living roof has proven to be the biggest challenge so far because of leakage, says Freeman. The thick walls and timber columns and beams in the house support the heavy weight of the living roof. The wood was lined with dam wall lining, which is a very thick and durable plastic, but due to the shape of the back wall, the plastic had to be welded. This proved tricky as there are no facilities in Maun that have the correct machine for the thickness of the plastic. “The full piece was welded and sent up from South Africa. Now I’m waiting for the rainy season to see if this time we are lucky,” explains Freeman. The plastic holds 10cm of soil with a small rocky base and a number of succulents, which do not require much watering. A unique feature of the house is that the entire north wall of the building can slide away. This

wall was made on site with a series of either glass panes or timber slats containing insect proofing in between to allow air to pass through. The climate is sufficiently warm to not have to seal this facade completely. Although high clerestory windows above the big veranda on the north side let in ample sunlight, the facade is well shaded to protect it from summer sun and heat. The walls on the south side of the house are thick. In winter it does get colder, but the thermal mass of these thick walls retain heat, allowing for comfortable inside temperatures throughout the year. The clerestory windows can be opened to allow hot air to escape, providing natural ventilation. The ceilings are high, which allows hot air to rise into the space. The bathroom has a pivot door on one side, which opens up into an outdoor shower. The door provides protected screening for privacy. The bath and sanitaryware came from South Africa, but a lot of the supports were made on site. The main house features a timber bedroom and rammed earth living space and is connected to a second bedroom built out of waste timber via a wooden deck that bridges one of the ponds surrounding the house. Called “The Shack”, it was meant to be a temporary structure, but turned out so beautifully that Freeman decided to keep it as a spare bedroom.

High clerestory windows above the veranda on the north side let in ample sunlight while the facade is well shaded to protect it from summer sun and heat. The entire north wall of the building can slide away. The thick rammed earth walls and timber columns and beams support the heavy weight of the living roof above.

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House Otto produced only one refuse bag of waste on the whole project. REDUCING WASTE The building process generally produces a lot of waste. Building materials from a factory come in packaging, and materials are wasted when they need to be cut to the right size. Usually, 10% extra materials are ordered to account for this. House Otto produced only one refuse bag of waste on the whole project. The design itself also minimises household and sewage waste during the building’s lifetime. The sewage treatment is a biological composting system, using earthworms and aerobic bacteria to break down the waste. It gets separated by a mesh, and then flows through a vertically constructed wetland. It goes through hundreds of thousands of tiny channels, which are kept open by the earthworms to ensure the system does not get flooded. The stream of water eventually passes through a wetland that was created on the property, and the original nitrates

flow back into the land. The plants in the wetland break down the remaining nitrates and the water that is left is nutrient rich, and no longer harmful.

WATER WISE Water is sourced from the river flowing past the property. A solar pump brings the water up to the house, where it is stored in a reservoir and in ponds on three sides around the house. Fountains in the pond help to create a passive cooling system. As the prevailing wind blows over the fountains and into the low windows on the south side of the house, the air is cooled. The only water that is taken from the river and not sent back is the drinking and washing water, but this will eventually end up in the land and re-percolate slowly back into the river. Although the river water is clean and can be used for drinking, a filtering system was installed as a precaution.

A LIFE OF TRANQUILITY Very little maintenance is required on the rammed earth structure, and as the walls age their special character deepens. Otto was completely hand-built so the irregular textures of the walls and distinct shutter board markings


• Off-grid 2kW solar system with battery backup electricity • Water independent • Rammed earth walls • Passive design • White ceilings and floors to balance the brown of the walls and create more light • High clerestory windows open to let in more light and for natural ventilation • Passive cooling • Solar geysers • Living roof • Compostable “vertical wetland” sewage treatment system • Reused timber • Use of local materials • Use of local labour • Locals trained to build and do maintenance on solar system and walls • Hand-made materials and equipment

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Owner Darryl Freeman lived in House Otto for three years. She now rents it out on accommodation websites, where it has been very popular, with the rammed earth walls in particular proving to be a drawcard.

are visible, says Freeman. “I believe this adds to the overall magnificence of the walls. Being an interior designer, I focused the interiors to enhance these imperfections by combining old furnishing with modern fittings to create a sophisticated and elegant space.” To date there have been fewer maintenance costs when compared to the monthly bills one would expect to pay to maintain and run a brick and mortar house with conventional energy and sewerage treatment systems, says Freeman. After living in Otto for three years, she now rents it out on various accommodation websites. “It is very popular, the main draw card being the rammed earth. Responses are incredibly positive and overall their feeling is one of tranquility and serenity when staying there,” she adds.

A SIMPLE AESTHETIC A wide variety of people came to see the house while they were building and most of them had the same response: they touched the walls and then would often fall silent. Marais recounts: “We had a very interesting encounter with a traditional Bushman who came riding past on his horse. He stopped when he saw the house, tied his horse to a tree, and went in without even greeting us. He felt the walls for a few minutes, looked at them with amazement, and then went back to his horse. Only then did he acknowledge us for the first time. It was quite a profound moment for me.”

This encounter proved to Marais that people have deep relationships with the way buildings are designed and constructed. “I have not experienced this in ‘conventional’ buildings that I’ve built, that people touch and stroke the walls. It has a simple aesthetic. Modern architecture often involves breaking the rules of scale and proportion, using many modern materials. As a result, we have lost the relationship we had with earthen materials. We now have materials that enable you to build anything you want. We have gone into a fantastic realm of architectural imagery, and people do things simply because they can. These buildings have a kind of novelty appeal, but that tends to wear off. Rammed earth was considered inferior, and still is opposed by people who are unfamiliar with the technique. But consider the Pantheon in Rome, for example, which is a mud building that is 2000 years old, and still an amazing structure,” Marais explains. “There are still a lot of people reluctant to do things differently. But I think people don’t consider me to be as crazy as they did five years ago. I’m noticing there is more understanding of what I do as valuable,” concludes Marais.


Client: Darryl Freeman,, +267 74 366 049/082 577 2037 Architect, builder, main contractor: Simply Sustainable, Paul Marais,,, 078 147 8945 Kitchen: Swiss Woodcraft, Dominic Braun, 079 884 6016,

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CLOSING THE MATERIALS LOOP Cities and individual buildings generate waste on a massive scale. However, the “take-make-waste” approach to the design, management and disposal of materials in the built environment is steadily being replaced with “zero waste-to-landfill” ambitions. Achieving these requires design and behaviour change interventions. WORDS H UGH TYRRE L L I M AGES ISTOCKPHOTOS


ystems thinking and the circular economy are pushing for greater focus on managing material resources responsibly through production, use and re-use so that their ecological, economic and social value can be optimised. Tegan Cathrall, sustainability manager at GrowthPoint Properties, says: “Waste is most likely to become the world’s next big issue. There has been a huge shortfall in terms of infrastructure, such as recycling depots, easier recycling collection, buildings designed for recycling sorting spaces etc. to provide the systems and processes needed to increase waste management in our country.” The Green Building Council South Africa’s (GBCSA) Green Star SA rating tools recognise recycling and allocate credits in various categories. These include new building projects, which offer a credit through design of spaces for collecting recycling waste. The Green Star SA Interiors tool is more comprehensive and requires a waste management plan be devised during construction and for operation of the fit-out. The Green Star SA Existing Building Performance tool offers credits for a procedure that involves a baseline audit of waste, and includes diversion of all operational waste from landfill. The Green Star SA system incentivises design and management for reuse and recycling of materials, as all credits gained in this way help achieve grading ratings. However, architectural design for recycling and improved waste management is not a common priority among architects. There is significant scope for improved communication between architects, designers and waste management contractors who

could offer estimates on types and volumes of waste being generated in buildings, and the kind of infrastructure required to manage these well. For example, spaces with easily washable floors and drainage or washing facilities for on-site sorting or separation areas could be specified, or in residential projects the option of waste chutes for recyclables could be investigated. For now, the focus remains on awareness and behaviour change to improve recycling rates.

INFLUENCING A COMPLEX SYSTEM Sustainably managing different waste materials going through occupied commercial and multi-use properties is not simple. The role players include property owners and developers, architects, building and facilities managers, occupiers and tenants, cleaning and recycling contractors. As one of the largest retail and mixed-use property owners, Growthpoint Properties uses its influence to encourage greater recycling among tenants. Cathrall says: “What has worked well for us is being able to engage with the tenant and emphasise the importance of recycling. We try to get them to sort at source so that when it comes to recycling, our waste contractor has a simpler and more efficient process. In certain extreme cases, we have liaised with tenants and proposed penalties for not complying with waste sorting for recycling purposes.” Growthpoint’s property management team encourages tenants to install bins on their premises for separating recyclable waste. Their cleaning contractors ensure recyclables are not mixed with other waste, and are taken to a main waste area for the recycling contractor to sort further on site

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or at an off-site facility. Contaminated recyclable materials (especially paper) reduces their value and re-use, which reinforces the purpose of separating at source. As for areas of improvement, Cathrall adds: “We find partnerships and communication between the facilities team and the waste contractor produces innovative results. However, the biggest shift needed is behavioural change among occupiers. If we can instil in them the system’s benefits and practices, recycling numbers are sure to improve.” Measurement and reporting are essential for efficient waste management. Growthpoint currently collects figures on waste collected, landfilled and recycled monthly to help plan for improvements. Buildings are also benchmarked against each other based on weights to landfill. Through such measures, Growthpoint has diverted an estimated 5000tonnes of waste from landfill and into the recycling industry over the past 12 months.

INTEGRATING DIFFERENT CLIENT NEEDS The Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront is an extensive mixed-use precinct that attracts thousands of tourists and Cape Town residents day and night. Overseeing waste management is operations manager Petro Myburgh. “Our environmental policy has waste management and recycling guidelines for tenants and occupiers. However, we have a large mix of tenants, so integrating their different needs into a system that generates most recyclables is our challenge.” Restaurants and eateries are given colour-coded bins for their organic food waste, which, through a fly-farming process located off site, is turned into animal protein feed. Glass and cardboard are gathered separately while plastic, paper, tins and other general waste is collected by the waste contractor for sorting at their facility. To encourage participation among tenants, there is no charge for the collection of bins filled with recyclables. This has helped some tenants reduce their monthly

SOUTH AFRICA’S RECYCLING RATES South Africa’s annual paper recovery rate stands at 68.4% (higher than the global average), with 1.4 million tonnes of recyclable paper and paper packaging diverted from landfill annually. Source: Paper Recycling Association of South Africa, 2017.

In 2014, the most recent year for which stats are available, 22.5% of all plastics products made, were recycled into raw material again. Every tonne of plastic recycled saves 5.7m3 landfill space. Recycling 1kg of polyethylene saves approximately 2litres of crude oil and 1.5kg of CO2. In total, 62.7% of all materials recycled in 2014 originated from postconsumer sources and a further 17.2% originated from postindustrial sources. Source:

Glass recycling rates increased from 18% in 2005/6 to 41% in 2014/15. All new glass produced in South Africa has a minimum of 40% recycled content. Source:

The Department of Environmental Affairs is targeting a total recycling rate of 20% of all waste by 2019.

In 2012, 98million tonnes of the 108million tonnes of waste produced in South Africa went to landfill.

South Africa is the 15th highest producer of waste in the world, with 54 000t produced daily, according to the World Bank.

refuse bills by at least half. In offices, boxes for paper are made available from the waste contractor at low cost and are situated mostly at printing stations. Eating at desks is discouraged to help reduce contamination. Education and information for separation at source is a focus while new tenants are given special emphasis and must submit waste and recycling management plans. In all, the V&A generates around 500t per month of waste materials, of which 40-45% is recycled. Motivating tenants to participate in recycling continues to be a challenge. Myburgh sums up their approach: “We create spaces and systems that encourage the appropriate behaviour.”

BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS Andrew Mason, projects director at facilities management outsourcing group Tsebo Solutions, sees the partnership of building and facilities managers with occupiers as essential: “The role of the occupier and their buy-in to the whole process cannot be underestimated. Management needs to provide leadership by ensuring sufficient budget is set aside for proper infrastructure and by appointing a municipality-accredited, competent waste contractor who is transparent about the waste management process and provides all the requisite reporting and disposal certification.” Financial services firm Sanlam houses about 5000 employees in its Bellville headquarters, which combines five floors of office space with kitchenettes, cafeterias, restaurants and shops. The company’s sustainability policy has set a zero waste-to-landfill target, which drives diversion and recycling activities across the entire company campus. To help meet the stringent year-onyear target, the facilities management team, waste company and cleaning contractors work closely together. Food waste organics from the cafeterias and kitchenettes are kept separate and taken for composting.

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Bins for office consumables and e-waste as well as for paper are located at printing stations and along corridors. An efficient sorting area in the basement enables general plastics and paper to be further sorted for recovery and recycling. Education for staff includes posters, intranet e-learning, email reminders and other media to encourage separation at source, and give feedback on progress.

EDUCATION FOR AT-SOURCE SEPARATION “Getting to zero waste is a tough journey,” says Wynand van Rensburg, head of the facilities management team at Sanlam. “Most waste recovery systems are running well, and we have a focus on minimising contamination of white paper, which has a high value. Continuous education and incentives for at-source separation help with making recycling routine behaviour for staff.” The South African recycling economy provides income for some 84 000 people, the majority in the informal and smalland medium-scale enterprise (SMSE) sector, where the need is greatest. On average, recycling rates for most materials are still generally low at just 9.8% (Department of Environmental Affairs, 2012) with much of it coming from industry or scavenged from landfill. As for recycling by households, research by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) shows that the percentage of households of a broadly representative sample in large urban areas who regularly recycle paper and packaging waste, has risen from 4% in 2010 to 7.2% in 2015. Where municipalities such as the City of Cape Town provide free, regular door-to-door recycling collection services to

households (currently only as a pilot programme in selected neighbourhoods), participation increases to well over 50%, especially when communication initiatives are in place to support the service, according to officials. More than 120 000 households are serviced this way. For many facilities and waste managers with technical backgrounds, enabling the necessary integration among the different role players for an efficient recycling system may not always be easy. Then there are the social psychology and communication skills needed for fostering behaviour change among tenants and occupiers. But where these can be put to work, the environmental and socio-economic benefits are wide-ranging, especially since it has been estimated that seven times more jobs can be created from recycling rather than landfilling waste. It’s well worth the effort for all stakeholders to close the materials loop.


Tsebo Solutions: Facilities management, Andrew Mason,, 011 577 8772 V&A Waterfront: Petro Myburgh,, 021 408 7500 Growthpoint Properties: Tegan Cathrall,, 011 944 6118 Sanlam/CWExcellerate: Facilities management, Postwink: Recycling bins/containers, Berenice Westmore,, 021 447 8783 Paper Recycling Association of SA: Ursula Hennebury,,011 803 5063 The state of household recycling in South Africa: Results of the 2015 South African Household Waste Recycling Behaviour Survey, Strydom, W. and Godfrey, L. (CSIR, April 2017)

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Aptly named The Sanctuary, a development in Somerset West has turned a once distressed wetland site into a haven for water and bird life, all nestled next to a bustling new shopping mall. WO R DS PETA BROM PHOTO GR APHS S VA

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isiting the Sanctuary on a warm winter morning in July, three coot nests constructed on the water are visible, despite the current drought and resulting outmigration of birds in the Western Cape. Two mother birds are followed closely by their hatchlings. On the middle promontory, a blacksmith lapwing rises into the air, sounding the alarm in ritual distraction away from its nest among the reeds, and a surprisingly tame chat lands on the wall, watching, turning its head back and forth and nodding as if in approval of its new home. This home is now shared with patrons enjoying a meal on a deck where eateries are located as part of a new mixed use-development, featuring shopping and office components. The form of The Sanctuary building was determined by the mix of uses required of the site and their relation to the natural elements of water, sun, wind and mountains. A triple-volume central atrium and three-storey mall at The Sanctuary allow for daylight and fresh air, with opaque roof lights on the perimeter of these spaces diffusing natural light throughout the interior, while controlling glare and solar heat gain. But it is beyond the building envelope where the true haven has been created. Before construction, The Sanctuary site had an existing stormwater detention pan that was part of a historical wetland area. The water drains from the

mountains of the Helderberg watershed and collects a few kilometres inland from Strand on the flat area behind the dunes before slowly making its way to the sea. Rezoning and development rights came with a set of conditions. To realise the potential of the property, the development had to meet the requirements of the City of Cape Town’s 2009 Management of Stormwater Impacts Policy. Within this policy, sites that have existing detention ponds must be treated for pollution. The target is to reduce suspended solids by 80% or the removal of 45% of the total phosphorous (whichever requires higher level of treatment), and to retain the rainwater falling on the site during a typical storm event (as occurs in any two-year cycle).

THE ROLE OF POLICY Recent years have seen an increase in the frequency of major flooding incidents that typically would have been associated with 50- to 100-year cycles. This has raised concern for the risk of flooding. Arguably, the causes are both linked to climate change and the hardsurface cover associated with urbanisation. Taking the risk seriously, the City of Cape Town tightened stormwater compliance requirements at council submission stage, through the promulgation of the Management of Urban Stormwater Impacts Policy in 2009. The policy states NUTSHELL that “new developments ... shall

Location • Somerset West Building Type • Mixed-use: retail and offices Gross Lettable Area • 16 000m² Contract Value • R270million Developer • Abacus Development Company

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Top: Extensive reed establishment is visible on the southern bank with the R44 to the right.

Below: A golf driving range and residential and commercial development can be seen on the opposite side.

SUSTAINABILITY FEATURES be planned and designed to incorporate sustainable urban drainage systems [SUDS] generally in accordance with the City of Cape Town’s Stormwater Management Planning and Design Guidelines for New Developments as well as with local and international best practice”. But this requirement is not uniformly applied to all new developments. The criteria for achieving the objectives of the policy are considered against aspects such as the size of the development site, type and location as well as the sensitivity, importance and role that the location plays in existing stormwater masterplans for the area. For sites like The Sanctuary, it presents a challenge to accommodate water and an opportunity for rehabilitation, or what is known as urban reconciliation ecology.

BEFORE DEVELOPMENT When The Sanctuary site was bought, the existing stormwater detention pond had little aesthetic and ecological value. Civil engineer, Nichol Jordaan from Icon Consulting Engineers, says: “It was like Shrek’s pond with green sludge everywhere. The bottom of the pond was almost at the same height as the outflow and the water flowed out almost as fast as it entered the area.” The key objectives for the detention pond after development were to absorb the stormwater runoff in accordance with City policy, provide an aesthetic outlook from the building and street network, and lastly provide wildlife habitat, in particular for waterfowl. Reflecting on the design process, architect Bruce Wilson of Stauch Vorster Architects International (SVA), notes: “We chose to design around the existing position of the detention pond to preserve the existing ecology, but in retrospect, we could have explored options for alternative building positions and

• Sustainable urban drainage and wetland restoration • Passive solar design • Natural daylight • High-performance HVAC

orientations. This is because the pond had to undergo considerable earth-moving to reach the required stormwater capacity, and so it is a newly constructed ecosystem rather than a preserved one.” Nevertheless, the team worked closely with Jordaan to consolidate the ecological requirements for shaping the banks with the capacity requirements for stormwater detention.

FUNCTIONAL TRADE-OFFS In a natural system, emergent vegetation such as bulrushes, papyrus and phragmites work with settlement and nutrient cycling processes to absorb pathogens and pollution, thereby acting to clean water. However, with time their natural growth increases in density and area, and can strangle a water system, particularly when it is high in nutrients. This reduces the system’s capacity to absorb flood water, forcing it into adjacent land masses. Due to the requirement to absorb flood waters and mitigate flooding risk in the surrounding neighbourhoods, the team had to limit introducing inpond plants. Instead, they designed the landscaping with plants at the water’s edge to keep the main body of water clear. The sides of the dam were reshaped to deepen the pond to the required capacity, and the littoral zone (the shallow area in a water body in which plants grow) was kept steeper in most places to avoid becoming overgrown with water plants. The main pond is kept at a relatively constant water level due to the position of the outlet relative to the bottom of the dam. The outlet from the pond is designed in such a way that regular storm events will release over a 24-hour period after rainfall, and flooding can be absorbed up to a 1-in-50-year event

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to pre-development flow rates. Managing pollution from road run-off is a challenge. Litter is initially trapped in grates at the inlets. From there, the water runs over a series of gabion traps and grass swales that are intended to slow the water, trap suspended solids and other pollutants such as oil and heavy metals. The remainder is expected to sink to the bottom of the pond and be absorbed into the sediment during the 24-hour slow-release period after the storm. Pollution build-up from road run-off and bird guano in the water is consequently expected to result in occasional algal bloom and pondweed, which will require continuing maintenance. Avian specialist, Dr A.J. (Tony) Williams of African Insights, raised a concern that motorised maintenance watercraft could disturb waterfowl and so, out of consideration for the birds, a small wooden row boat is sent on to the water about every three months to remove excess algae and Typha Capensis (bulrushes) build-up.

BANKING ON BIODIVERSITY A total of 43 bird species were recorded at The Sanctuary wetland under pre-development conditions, with sightings of between six and 20 bird species typical at each visit. None of the recorded species were endangered, which meant no specific mitigation measures were required for their protection, but rather an opportunity to improve conditions for species already common in adapted landscapes. Slopes had to be at a minimum 1:4 gradient to prevent erosion while more steep slopes were reduced by means of gabion baskets. Herman de Lange, director and landscape architect at cndv landscape architects, says: “The banks on the shopping centre side had to be quite steep, while the banks on the road side were flattened to provide access for waterfowl.” Commenting on this design feature, Wilson says: “This meant that the connection to water was lost on the shopping centre side of the pond. The mall deck and restaurants are oriented towards the pond to use it as an architectural feature and improved amenity. A perched koi pond was introduced as a feature at deck height to support the connection to water.” With birdlife in mind, the banks had to be “scalloped”, offering alternating bays and promontories as attractive nesting and basking sites. The bays were planted with indigenous reed-grass to provide visual screens for nesting. A small 2.5m

vertical bank of soft soil was installed as a nest bank for sand martins and kingfishers. “The soil must be soft enough for weak-footed martins to scratch breeding holes,” according to a report by Dr Williams. Other requirements taken into consideration were ensuring that the extent of water allowed a “running” take-off, while a maximum building height of three floors was prescribed to mitigate shading of the water body. Lastly, the paths were designed to limit disturbance of nesting birds while providing access for people to take a stroll and view the birds.

The shopping mall deck and restaurants are oriented towards the pond to use it as an architectural feature and improved amenity.

LANDSCAPING FOR WILDLIFE De Lange says they took a pragmatic approach to the landscaping, working closely with council to develop the landscape plan and a plant schedule that could be approved by City authorities. “Along the water’s edge, indigenous plants were selected for their functional traits, such as the ability to support bird needs while stabilising the bank against erosion and providing a slight water quality improvement,” he says. “Higher up the banks, the plants were selected for their aesthetic value, providing a display of flowers throughout the year.” This is a strategy that helps to support pollinator species such as bees, beetles and sunbirds within urban environments, ensuring there is food for them throughout the year.


Landscape architect: cndv landscape architects, Herman de Lange, director,, 021 810 7799 Architect: SVA International, Bruce Wilson, associate architect,, 021 421 4276 Freshwater ecologist: The Freshwater Consulting Group, Liz Day, Avian specialist: African Insights, Dr Tony (AJ) Williams EIA specialist: Doug Jeffery Environmental Consultants, Doug Jeffrey,, 021 875 5272 Civil engineer: Icon Consulting Engineers, Nichol Jordaan,, 086 117 2774

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Cape Town’s remnant farmland in the Philippi Horticultural Area highlights the tensions of urban growth – particularly housing people versus feeding people – and having land that performs ecosystem services in the metropole. This case study homes in on a local example of a global phenomenon of the tussle for land use.



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be subdivided, paved over, and converted to houses, shopping malls, or industrial complexes. Because once the transformation is done, it’s irreversible, say critics of the recent municipal ruling to give the goahead for development of the bottom southeastern corner of the PHA. The City of Cape Town recently upheld its decision to rezone a section of land here that makes up about 15% of the total PHA. It consists of 22 individual plots that, together, make up 472ha, and is owned by private corporation, Rapicorp 122. The property is vacant apart from a few legal and illegal sand mining operations, and there is no agricultural activity taking place currently, and no buildings or structures on this property. Rapicorp applied to Cape Town in 2015 to have the area rezoned from agricultural-only use in order to allow “mixed development”. This, according to their application, will include residential housing, educational facilities, office and retail space, industrial parks, and civic, community, and conservation land uses. Rezoning this cluster of plots, known collectively as “Oakland City”, has been questioned by local food security and water experts, and contested by the farming activist organisation PHA Food & Farming Campaign (FFC), which claims to speak for small emerging black farmers. Losing this corner, bordered by Strandfontein and Mitchell’s Plain, amounts to what they agree is “death by a thousand cuts”:



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s far as picturesque farmlands go, the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) on Cape Town’s Cape Flats, is far from bucolic. The city’s footprint has expanded over the decades, eating into more and more of the green open spaces of the wider peninsula, which once were its breadbasket. Today, the PHA is an island of about 3000ha of green in the spreading sea of urban sprawl: some lies fallow; some is mined for sand; some is used for pastures; and some is hard at work producing fresh vegetables. The urban edge has encircled it with sloughing vibracrete walls. Small industrial parks press in around it, with rusting car carcasses in the back yard, and there are regimented blocks of low-cost houses, and spreading informal neighbourhoods. Not much of the farmland is pretty these days. The PHA is at the heart of a contest for land in a city that has a shortage of affordable housing, where businesses are demanding more industrial space from which to operate, and where disparate groups of farmers are working the land, some reluctantly, some willingly, and with questionable profitability. Losing this green open space – and with it the potential to trickle-feed fresh produce into the city’s food system, and water into an aquifer that lies in the bedrock beneath – is where some of the big questions lie about whether or not this land should


STRANDFONTEIN The City of Cape Town recently upheld its decision to rezone a section of land that makes up about 15% of the total Philippi Horticultural Area. The 472ha area known as Oakland City is currently vacant and developer Rapicorp 122 has ambitions to build a mixed use development here.

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shave off enough small pieces here and there, and eventually there will be nothing left of the PHA. Adjacent to the Oakland City section is another 96ha area that has also been put before the city council for rezoning for development by Uvest Property Group. So far, this rezoning application has not been approved. The bureaucratic processes that track the rezoning decision by city council are complex, and the details are beyond the scope of this article. There are more questions than answers on the broader matter of whether to keep the PHA in its current state – green open space, and therefore available for agriculture and other ecological services – or develop it (a decision that is inherently political). For now, the only thing standing in the way of the 472ha Oakland City land being released for development is if the FFC follows through with its plan to ask the Western Cape High Court to overturn Cape Town’s rezoning decision. FFC convenor Nazeer Sonday confirms a court battle is being planned.

CALORIES IN, CALORIES OUT: VALUING THE LAND Do the citizens of Cape Town need the PHA to supply the local food value chain, when the regional food system allows fresh produce to be shipped in from just about anywhere in southern Africa? From a consumers’ perspective, does it matter if a hectare of the PHA is feeding calories into the food system by supplying it with produce directly from a farmer’s field, or through a supermarket built on that hectare? According to food security researchers at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) African Centre for Cities (ACC), it does matter, it’s complicated, and there are too many unknowns to understand the risks associated with allowing the development to go ahead. “What will Cape Town’s food system look like if it lost the PHA? That’s difficult to answer,” explains ACC’s Dr Gareth Haysom. “The food system is diverse, and functions well, but it’s complex and constantly changing. It’s influenced by so many local, regional, and global shifts: currency fluctuations, or a flood of food into the market from another region, for instance.” Consider the current drought, which he says will impact on farm outputs in the city vicinity. “How will this impact local food supply, if the city is importing food from places like Limpopo, where the drought is less severe? In this continual state of flux in the food system, the PHA is a constant,” Haysom elaborates. “It allows a level of certainty in

© PHA Food & Farming Campaign


While supermarkets are connected to a larger, commercial supply chain through nationwide networks, smaller informal traders are hit hard by a decrease in cheaper, locally-grown fresh produce.

an uncertain system. It keeps healthy, affordable food coming into the city. As soon as fresh produce is imported from afar, it increases the cost, and the carbon footprint.” While supermarkets are connected to a larger, commercial supply chain through networks across the country, and often benefit from the integration of the network and the economies of scale that come with it (for instance, many larger retailers also own the shipping, packaging and warehousing processes), smaller informal traders are hit hard by a decrease in cheaper, locally-grown fresh produce. This ripples through to most consumers. The ACC has done several studies of the extent of the food system in Cape Town, and how formal retailers and the informal food sector operate within it. In summary, they found that informal traders – including street vendors, fresh produce vendors, house shops and spaza shops – are largely undervalued in terms of their contribution to meeting the nutritional needs of the city’s inhabitants. Informal traders may have less of a mark-up on their produce, compared with bigger retailers where longer value chains have more profit-taking along the way. They sell closer to people’s homes or along important transport routes for people using public transport or moving on foot. They also often offer credit to cash-strapped families who wouldn’t get it at large chain stores.

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that might be cheaper, have a longer shelf life, or be high status foods owing to their branding and packaging. Even though many studies have focused on the contribution of the PHA’s agricultural activities to the local economy, the data is flawed for various reasons. Haysom, Battersby and their team note in the 2014 report, Food System and Food Security Study for the City of Cape Town, that the agricultural census data used by Cape Town in its analysis only captures commercial farming crops, and therefore misses the smaller operators selling into local markets. It also excludes low-value staple vegetables, or higher-value but small volume herbs. Another report by Battersby and Haysom – the 2012 PHA: a City asset or potential development node?– found that agricultural production expanded here between 2009 and 2012, and that over 50 different crop types fed into the city’s food system through various formal and informal channels. Farmers reported selling about 80% of their produce directly to retailers, 12% went through the city’s fresh produce market, and another 2% was sold directly to informal traders. Their survey did not

© Linley Meavers/Fourth Wall Photography

Lower-income families often don’t have electricity or refrigeration at home, and live far from shopping centres. This, explains Haysom, means they can’t buy in bulk or transport food home in taxis, which forces them to buy on a daily basis and from hawkers who operate within easy walking distance of their homes. These are all important in allowing poorer households to remain food-resilient. Cutting off a supply of locally grown, affordable fresh produce by pinching back the supply to informal traders will have a direct bearing on the price and availability of healthy food for many Capetonians. Supermarkets don’t necessarily fill the gap left if informal traders are pushed out of the system, according to the ACC reports. Even though big retailers are spreading into lower income communities around Cape Town, they are not necessarily bringing the benefits of economies of scale to bear, in terms of allowing access to affordable, healthy foods within these communities. Haysom and his colleague, Dr Jane Battersby, found that supermarkets tend to speed up the “nutritional transition” as people abandon traditional, healthier foods and switch to processed and packaged foods

Cutting off a supply of locally grown, affordable fresh produce by pinching back the supply to informal traders will have a direct bearing on the price and availability of healthy food for many Capetonians as supermarkets won’t necessarily fill that gap.

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support the oft-repeated claim that 47% or so of the city’s fresh produce comes from the PHA, however.

THE TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT: RECHARGING THE AQUIFER, AND GAPS IN THE ACCOUNTING While the number crunching is being done on the economic value of the agricultural and development potential of the PHA, water expert Dr Kevin Winter from UCT’s Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences is concerned that some of the often “invisible” ecosystem services provided by the natural environment here are not being factored into the accounting system used to quantify the value of the area.

The CFA spans about 450km2, stretching from Table Bay in the west, across the airport industrial area to Sir Lowry’s Pass, and south to the False Bay coastline, and as far as the Tygerberg Hills in the north. A 2010 article in the journal Water SA states that the aquifer could supply about 5% of the city’s water needs, at the rate of water use in the prerestriction conditions of 2016. But Winters says this could stretch to as much as a third if the aquifer recharge is carefully monitored and managed, and if demand is reduced to levels that are sustainable and in line with drought-condition usage. “Cape Town currently can lose as much as 18% of its above-ground stored water in summer due to evaporation, but the aquifer is an important

The other ecosystem services provided by the PHA need to be considered seriously in terms of Cape Town’s broader response to climate change. DR KEVIN WINTER, UCT ENVIRONMENTAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL SCIENCES

Green open spaces like the PHA offer a buffer against extreme weather events associated with climate change. Open grasslands mop up flood waters, allowing it to percolate into the groundwater in dry months, while natural wetlands and ponding areas allow groundwater to pool as it rises every winter during the rainy season; during heat waves, vegetated areas don’t suffer the same heat spikes associated with urban heat islands in built-up areas; trees can provide windbreaks, while pastures are firebreaks (wind speed and the likelihood of dry, windy “fire weather” are expected to increase in a hotter, drier Western Cape, according to UCT’s climate modelling); the Cape Flats aquifer (CFA), which lies beneath the PHA, can supplement water supply during times of drought, and be an important alternative water storage facility as the city faces on-going water shortages.

alternative storage option,” says Winter. “We need not only to be looking to the mountains to collect our water. We don’t need more dams. We have an underground storage facility which is a smart climate proofing strategy.” The entire city is itself a water catchment for this aquifer, with twice as much water falling across the Cape Flats and the city bowl than the city’s actual demand, according to Winter. Much of this water is not currently being captured, and boreholes could also be points through which to recharge the aquifer. The PHA itself isn’t that important for the recharge of the total aquifer – the broader cityscape needs to be viewed holistically for its multiple recharge points – but Winter notes that if we want to “climate proof” the city, then these other ecosystem services provided by the PHA need to be considered seriously in terms of Cape Town’s broader response to climate change.

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© Final Heritage Impact Assessment Report


An artists impression of the proposed development planned for the southeast corner of the PHA, with a mix of residential, retail and industrial.

THE CITY OF CAPE TOWN’S “MASTERPLAN”, AND MAKING FARMING PROFITABLE The City of Cape Town is working on a masterplan that will inform future decisions relating to the PHA, although this won’t be in time to address the Oakland Park decision. The draft Municipal Spatial Development Framework (MSDF) went out for public comment between July 30 and September 26, and, once approved, will provide “policy certainty” until 2022, according to councillor Brett Herron, City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee member for Transport and Urban Development. The current draft considers the PHA, and wider concerns relating to a food system that it acknowledges must be “accessible and affordable”, particularly to lower income communities. Herron says the MSDF will also consider “numerous studies previously conducted (on the PHA) by many organisations”, as well as the recently commissioned Socio-Economic Agricultural Plan (SEAP), called for by Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Economic Development and Tourism Alan Winde in April this year. However, Herron said the SEAP is unlikely to be completed in less than a year and doesn’t expect this to give any new insights into the PHA as it is uncertain that any new primary research will be undertaken and will likely only draw from existing studies.

Meanwhile Winde, whose department is a commenting authority in the City of Cape Town’s rezoning decision, argues that one of the best ways of protecting the agricultural land in the PHA is to encourage middle-class, hobby farming. If gentleman farmers such as those in Constantia own the land and are not dependent on its agricultural outputs to make a living, then market forces will buffer against urban sprawl, crime, and dumping of waste (the latter both devalue the area). Another mechanism is to ensure that agriculture is profitable. One way of doing this, Winde suggests, is to “disrupt” the current food system by cutting out middlemen and subverting the supermarket system, both of which absorb big chunks of the profits on food production, by finding ways to deliver produce directly from the farmer to the customer.


African Centre for Cities: Dr Gareth Haysom, Dr Jane Battersby,, 082 782 9955, 021 650 5749 UCT department of Environmental and Geographical Science: Dr Kevin Winter,, 021 650 2875 Food and Farming Campaign: Nazeer Sonday,, 072 724 3465 Western Cape Ministry of Agriculture Development and Tourism: Minister Alan Winde, 021 483 4700 City of Cape Town: Mayoral Committee Member for Transport Brett Herron,, 021 400 1298 Download the Oakland City final heritage impact assessment report at

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THE ROAD TO LOW STEP 1 Combine ingredients in a cement kiln at about

Unabated urbanisation continues, and growing cities are made largely of concrete – a strong and durable material made from varying proportions of Portland cement. One tonne of cement produced releases an estimated 0.87t of carbon dioxide (global average), and globally, the cement industry accounts for 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions, which is incompatible with global climate change commitments. It is an industry in need of lowering its footprint, and there are a number of ways this can happen: Until now, the focus has been on ensuring energy efficiency in factory processes and using alternative fuels to substitute conventional fuels. Going forward, the emphasis will be on geopolymers and alternative materials that can be used instead of cement, without compromising the strength and durability that concrete is known for. Pulverised fuel ash (PFA) – also known as fly ash – is an example of an alternative material. Fly ash is a by-product of Eskom’s coal-burning power generation process, and Sasol’s coal-to-liquid fuel process, so is abundantly available in South Africa. There is an opportunity to put this waste material to beneficial use but the problem is ensuring a source of consistent quality to get the science of concrete mixing right every time. Beyond 2050, a lot of faith is being put in carbon capture and storage (CCS, see earthworks issue 34) as a way to reduce emissions in the sector.

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HOW TO MAKE CEMENT Ingredients: limestone of high purity, clays and shales

1400ºC to form a flux, which results in a crystalline material known as clinker. The actual chemical reaction to transform limestone into reactive Portland cement releases 0.54kg of carbon dioxide per 1kg of clinker product. Therefore, the less clinker used, the less associated emissions.

STEP 2 Cool clinker rapidly to set the crystal in the highest reactivity form possible.

STEP 3 Grind into fine powder and mix with ground gypsum to form a calcium-enriched mixture (CEM). (CEM 1 = 95% clinker; CEM 2 = 65%-94% clinker; CEM 3 [marketed as eco-cement] = 20%-64% clinker)

In South Africa, year-on-year emissions in the cement industry have reduced thanks to use of clinker substitutes i.e. PFA, ground granulated blast-furnace slag, or limestone. Clinker substitution has increased from 12% in 1990 to 41% in 2009. Use of waste tyres in cement kilns also reduces the percentage of CO2/GJ of energy consumed by 11%.

GEOPOLYMER CEMENT This is heralded globally as an emerging solution to reduce the carbon intensity of cement. Geopolymers replace ingredients in the making of clinker with different inorganic binders. It provides the same functions as Portland cement but with a different underlying chemistry. Currently most commercially available geopolymer cements are based on two materials: fly ash and ground granulated blast-furnace slag, but it can be made with almost any material with a high enough content of aluminosilicate. In tests, geopolymer cement has shown greater acid resistance when compared to Portland cement, thus a low-hanging fruit option would be to increase use of geopolymer cement in corrosive environments, such as wastewater treatment plants. On the contrary, a drawback of geopolymer cement is that it can take longer to set, although this would not be a problem in precast concrete operations.

HOWEVER, THE UPTAKE OF GEOPOLYMERS IN SOUTH AFRICA HAS BEEN SLOW What’s holding us back? Partly professional risk aversion. There is an absence of national standards covering the use of geopolymers, and consulting engineers are reluctant to sign off on projects using materials that do not meet national standards because of the high risk involved if the material fails. However, this does not mean there is no more that can be done in South Africa. The opportunity for substitution of ingredients to make concrete, rather than cement/clinker, are where gains can be made. Here, cement replacement is becoming more common.

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CARBON CONCRETE HOW TO MAKE TRADITIONAL CONCRETE Ingredients 60-75% aggregates (course and fine) 14-20% water 7-15% cement Up to 8% air

HOW TO MAKE HYBRID CONCRETE Ingredients 50–75% aggregates 14–20% water 0.5–2% cement Up to 25% waste/by-product (pulverised fuel ash, ground granulated blast-furnace slag, or limestone) Up to 2% air

HOW TO MAKE ALKALIACTIVATED CONCRETE Ingredients 40–55% aggregates Up to 15% water Up to 25% waste/by-product (pulverised fuel ash, ground granulated blast-furnace slag, or limestone.) Up to 20% commercial activator, (combination of alkalis – sodium silicate and sodium hydroxide) Up to 2% air

Step 1: In a large mixer, combine all ingredients. Different proportioning allows for different strengths and durability. Step 2: When concrete has been mixed and ingredients activated, pour into desired mould for shaping. Step 3: Leave to dry and cure.


About 55% of emissions from cement-making are from transforming limestone (via heating) to lime + CO2


About 32% of cement-related emissions are from burning fossil fuels to reach the high temperature required


About 13% of emissions relate to electricity used to grind and transport material

The GBCSA’s Green Star SA rating system awards points for the replacement of cement within projects, but it is argued these percentages could be increased. A number of industry professionals agree every building should be doing at least 25% cement replacement as a minimum. There are even local examples of this target being impressively exceeded. One example is Cape Town’s Portside skyscraper, constructed in 2011. Here, thanks to the willingness of the project team to experiment with finding more environmentally sustainable solutions that did not compromise safety, the majority of the concrete had 65% of the Portland cement replaced with a slag by-product from the steel industry known as GGCS (ground granulated Corex slag). Further development work was conducted to make a concrete with 85% cement replacement. Some 5 646 762kg of CO2 was saved thanks to cement replacement on this project. Another local example is the Transnet City Deep Container Terminal in Johannesburg. Here, alkali-activated concrete was used, thus 64% cement was replaced. In 2015, the Loeriesfontein wind farm constructed the bases of its wind turbines using up to 95% Portland cement replacement mixture. With the growing trend toward net-zero buildings and the impending carbon tax for South African industries, the cement industry will need to continue investigating alternative production fundamentals. “We can’t continue our use of limestone for cement any more than we can keep burning coal,” emphasises Beyond Zero Emissions.


Cyril Atwell, director ARC Innovations, Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), presentation and workshop “Constructing a case for geopolymer cement”, July 2017. Rethinking Cement: Zero Carbon Industry Plan, by Zero Carbon Australia’s Beyond Zero Emissions series A calculator to estimate the carbon footprint of a given concrete mix is available from the Concrete Institute at:

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A small hydropower station between Bethlehem and Clarens in the Free State is helping renewable energy gain momentum in the region. WORDS JORISNA BONTHUYS IMAGES SUPPLIED

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he Stortemelk plant adds 4.4MW to the national electricity grid. This “run-of-river” plant turns the kinetic energy of flowing water into clean, renewable electricity. Not only has it gained international acclaim, it is already producing more electricity than expected after just a year in operation. Initially expected to generate 27GWh/annum, due to higher than expected efficiencies and lower losses it has produced 30GWh in its first 12 months. It has also already caught the attention of those in the engineering field, gaining a commendation at the 2017 CESA Aon Engineering Excellence Awards for projects with a value between R50million and R250million. Stortemelk employs the age-old strategy of generating electricity using the kinetic energy of moving water. Its vertical turbine spins a generator to produce electricity, which is then connected to Eskom’s grid and consumed within the Dihlabeng region. Stortemelk is the third in a series of small hydropower plants developed by Renewable Energy Holdings (REH), which has also been involved in the Merino and Sol Plaatje hydropower stations developed under the Bethlehem Hydro Project. Stortemelk runs entirely on the green energy it produces and saves about 28tonnes of CO2equivalent emissions a year during its operation. “This small-scale hydro project fits into national and regional green economy ambitions,” says AntonLouis Olivier, managing director of REH.

In recent years, very few new hydro projects have been developed locally. Although hydropower potential is constrained in South Africa given its status as a water-scarce country, there are still many opportunities for plants like these to contribute meaningfully to renewable energy targets, says Olivier. Opportunities also exist to retrofit existing dams and reservoirs, to generate clean and efficient energy from water. “Unlike big hydro plants, these smallscale plants can be built in three to four years from inception,” Olivier points out. “They can provide renewable options for communities that are currently not on the mainstream electricity grid but are living near to rivers or existing dams.” This kind of plant also does not have the negative environmental and social impacts attributed to large hydro projects. “Stortemelk provides predictable baseload power. Its environmental impact is also negligible, compared with the alternative baseline of a coal-fired power station,” says Olivier.

GOING WITH THE FLOW Stortemelk was awarded preferred-bidder status in terms of the South African Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) in 2012 and reached financial close in July 2014, when a power purchase agreement was signed with Eskom and the Department of Energy. Construction on the project started in September 2014, and it has been contributing energy to the grid since 28 July 2016.


Location • 10km north of Clarens (Free State) Cost • R190million Capacity • 4.4MW Output • 28GWh annually Construction start • August 2014 Project completed • July 2016 issue 40 // // 127

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WHY CRT TECHNOLOGY? SAFETY Cast resin transformers contain no oil and therefore there is no risk of oil fuelled fires or explosions. For this reason transformers can safely be installed closer to the power source inside buildings such as hospitals, hotels, convention centres, office buildings, factories and shopping malls with minimal risk to people or property.

CAPITAL SAVINGS No need for a separate outdoor substation with its associated civil works as well as valuable real estate. CRT’s are extremely reliable and have a long life span.

MAINTENANCE SAVINGS With no oil in the transformer, there are no oil

related tasks such as oil sampling and oil level checks thus reducing the maintenance costs and the total cost of ownership.

ENERGY SAVINGS By moving the transformer inside the building, closer to the distribution point, the power (I2R) lost in the cables is reduced. These savings are substantial over the many years of service of the transformer. Higher efficiency transformers can also be utilized.

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY As no oil is used in CRT’s there is no risk of pollution from oil leaks nor disposal of oil required when the transformer is at end of life.


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Aurecon provided all the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) services and was also responsible for a feasibility study. The company was also involved in the other two plants previously developed by REH in the Free State. Other project contractors included Eigenbau (civil), Efficient Engineering (hydro-mechanical), German company Andritz Hydro and Indar Electrical from Spain. About 70% of the project’s capital costs are funded by Rand Merchant Bank and the rest is via private investors. The project was developed under a project finance structure and was the first of its kind in the government’s REIPPP programme where an EPCM approach was followed. Stortemelk harnesses kinetic energy from water in the Ash River, which is plentiful all year round. This is because the river is fed by the nearby Lesotho Highlands Water Project that conveys water from the Katse and Mohale dams through the transfer tunnel, via the Muela hydropower station and Muela Dam and into the river. From here, its journey continues to the Liebensbergvlei River, the Wilge River and into the Vaal Dam from where water is pumped to Gauteng for domestic and industrial use. Before this scheme was implemented, the Ash River was a relatively small stream with a base flow of approximately 150ℓ/s. Now it has an average flow of over 24 500ℓ/s throughout the year. By 2025 this will increase even further with the implementation of the second phase of the water scheme (which has already started). Several structures were constructed in 2000 to mitigate the erosion caused along the river channel by the increased flow. The Botterkloof Dam is one of these structures, located approximately 1.5km from the tunnel outfall. The plant was retrofitted on the left bank of this existing dam and basically bypasses it. Stortemelk sits on a narrow strip of land between the Botterkloof Dam and a nearby farm dam (the Boston A Dam). This meant it had to be carefully designed and constructed to fit in the limited space between these two dams. The design addressed environmental concerns and ensures low visual impact. This is because the site is situated next to the river and in a privatelyowned conservancy. This posed some interesting challenges during design and construction, recalls Bertrand Rochecouste Collet, Aurecon’s technical director. It was, for instance, tricky to get the necessary permissions, permits and land rights for the project. Botterkloof Dam belongs to the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) but is financed through

the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority, while the Boston A Dam belongs to a local farmer. The power station itself is located on a piece of land purchased from the farmer, while the intake is on a servitude belonging to DWS. Furthermore, local geotechnical conditions also created some constraints. The site is situated on mudstone and sandstone sedimentary rock, which does not offer strong bearing capacity and deteriorates rapidly once exposed. Construction entailed doing excavations up to 8m below the water level. Work on the site had to be done without affecting the stability and operations of both dams. “Due to the space limitations on-site, careful planning and getting the right contractors on board was key,” says Collet. The solution was a shallow but wide intake, followed by a square concrete penstock (sluice) leading to the hydropower station. It contains a single vertical “compact axial” Kaplan turbine, ending at 90 degrees into the tail race of the existing lower stilling basin.

THE NUTS AND BOLTS The project team integrated operations and maintenance requirements in the design process. “We wanted to create a project that would last, that worked really well and could do so for a long time,” Olivier recalls. The plant is designed to allow for autonomous operation. This is a relatively new approach in small hydro in Southern Africa, where most plants still require full-time operators on site. Operations and maintenance are contracted to REH Operations and Maintenance, which also operates two other hydropower plants on the Ash River. The plant building is very compact, yet designed to ease operation and maintenance work. It comprises a simple, reinforced concrete structure, cast against the excavated rock. The design of the building (above ground) had to be compatible with the natural beauty of Clarens. “The idea was to create a non-traditional power plant that blended with its environment and caused minimum visual impact,” says André Eksteen from Earthworld Architects. The team used Corten (rusted steel) cladding attached to a galvanised steel structure that mimics the surrounding ridges. The structure’s external design is an extension of the project’s vision to generate renewable energy. Eksteen explains: “The shell of the building is fragmented, with light spilling into the main generator room through ‘crevices’. A polycarbonate skin was

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hydropower plants. “We are fortunate in that we were not starting this project as a first-time hydro developer, but had some experience to fall back on. “Our design philosophy centres on high quality, high levels of system integration and simplification rather than the normal low-cost approach, and has proved to be a winner. We are benefitting from high plant availability and much lower operational costs than our benchmarks. That being said, hydropower plants are still complex systems and we did experience some small but persistent problems on our cooling water systems and gate control mechanisms that took some effort to resolve.” The type of turbine selected offered a smaller power station footprint, which meant less civil works.

used and covered with ‘fragmented’ Corten cladding. Not only does this allow natural daylight in but also becomes a metaphor when light from the plant itself spills into its environment at night. This beacon of light is quintessential to REH’s philosophy of sustainable development with minimal environmental but maximum sustainable social impact.” Inside the plant, the sustainable focus continues. The type of turbine selected offered a smaller power station footprint, hence less civil works. All the water abstracted for power generation is returned to the river and any potential seepage and leaks inside the plant are pumped out through an oil separator unit to ensure that no contaminated water ends up in the river. The turbine also uses a waterlubricated bearing to prevent any oil from ending up in the water. The generator itself is completely sealed and cooled by a double-circle closed-loop water and air system. It exchanges heat internally and reduces cooling requirements. The type of power transformer is a highly efficient dry type (without oil) and is located indoors to reduce its visual impact. The plant also has a small water filtration facility for cooling and sealing water as well as other water needs. “Construction on a project like this takes about 18 months, but the plant itself will be in operation for decades. We wanted to build something that would contribute to its surrounds for a long time,” says Olivier. According to Olivier, the smooth start-up and successful operations of the Stortemelk plant can be traced back to the initial specification and design of the project – and in particular the feedback that REH was able to get from the operations of its other

FUTURE CONTRIBUTION The project contributed to the local economy through local procurement worth over R10.5million during the construction process. Almost half of the total staff complement working on the project (including the design and architectural team) came from the surrounding communities. Stortemelk’s unique ownership structure will ensure the project continues to benefit disadvantaged communities in the surrounding area, Olivier believes. During its 20-year power purchase agreement term, the project will contribute 1% of its gross revenue to support socio-economic development activities, including the support of the Combined Churches in Action (CCIA), a local charity focused on supporting orphans in the disadvantaged communities around the town of Clarens. “Stortemelk is an example of how multi-disciplinary engineering and design thinking can create futureproofed solutions,” Olivier concludes.


Ownership: Renewable Energy Holdings (70%), Anton-Louis Olivier,, 021 6711457, Vapotouch (30%) Engineering design and construction management: Aurecon, Bertrand Rochecouste Collet, bertrand.collet@aurecongroup. com, 012 427 3144 and 082 255 2177 Civil contractor: Eigenbau, Eddie Ross,, 011 244 8700 and 082 457 7404 Turbine and auxiliary equipment: Andritz Compact Hydro (Germany), Roland Brielmann,, +497 512 951 1747 Generator: Indar Electrics (Spain), Alberto Barricarte,, +34 943 02 82 00 Transformer: Greenergi, Mervyn Low,, 086 141 4777 and 082 573 5626 Hydro-mechanical contractor: Efficient Engineering Technical and Maintenance Services, John Risi,, 011 609 5515 and 063 023 7998 Operation and maintenance: REH Project Development, Anton-Louis Olivier,, 021 671 1457 Architect: Earthworld Architects, André Eksteen,, 012 340 0030 and 082 789 9539

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VILLAGE A remarkable construction project in the struggling Langbos informal settlement near Addo in the Eastern Cape has created a safe house for the community’s children and filled its adults with a renewed sense of purpose and accomplishment. WORDS M A RY JANE BOTHA IMAGES KAVO R PHOTOGRAPHY, CHRISTOPHER GRAVA

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onstruction of the Langbos Children’s Shelter has provided a much-needed haven for vulnerable children and carved a more promising future for this community, enriching its people with new skills to find alternate employment and build their own low-cost housing. The domed “superadobe” structures appear gracious in form and function. Thanks to the elegant design adjustments of Port Elizabeth architect Jason Erlank, and the respectful approach of non-profit organisation Intsikelelo, the facility has grown beautifully from the ground up, providing enthusiastic parents, grandparents and future parents with good reason to get their hands dirty.

the subsequent additions of a care centre and soup kitchen have done much to alleviate suffering. Now, with the gritty involvement of social entrepreneur Christopher Grava, the completed safe haven will provide shelter for abandoned children – and its construction could prove a turning point for the people of Langbos. An Economics and Corporate Strategy graduate from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, Grava and his brother Nick first came to South Africa to study in 2012. “We became deeply involved in a foster home and made a video (GoPro: South African Orphanage) that went viral, helped crowdfund our first initiatives, and led to a sponsorship from GoPro. Since then,

Members of the community were actively involved in building the centre, gaining valuable skills along the way, allowing them to start new business ventures.

It was achieved with wheelbarrows, soil beneath the feet, sweat and toil, and a determined new light in the builders’ eyes. The community of Langbos lives in poverty. The settlement took root when people drawn to citrus farming work in the area set up shacks on the site of a landfill. It lacks basic amenities, such as running water and electricity or paved roads. HIV, TB, alcoholism and abuse are common woes and, as the farm work is seasonal, most of the community is unemployed for most of the year. Addo resident Muffy Miller initiated positive changes with a humble playschool in 1994, and

I’ve made more videos that have reached millions of viewers, helping us connect with valuable donors and collaborators to bring our projects to fruition.” It was at this time that the brothers formed and registered the NGO Intsikelelo (meaning “blessing”), whose mission is “to improve the lives of orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa by developing and supporting communitydriven initiatives”. Grava says: “In 2016, we conducted a communitywide census to gather data and assess the challenges of over 450 residents in Langbos. Intsikelelo works with families and community leaders to come up

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with inclusive, culturally sensitive and communitydriven projects that are impactful and empowering.” Nutritious meals for the nursery school children, as well as ePap for malnourished and sick children and adults, fulfil one vital contribution, as has the distribution of small, solar-powered lights to replace dangerous paraffin lamps in every home. Intsikelelo’s most recent ambition, the newly completed shelter, will provide a safety net of temporary support for up to 12 children. The facility will employ a rotating staff of trained local caregivers to provide round-the-clock attention to the children. Importantly, the construction project, with its balance of low-cost, environmentally-friendly, earthbased building methods and modern, sustainable design, is both simple and labour intensive, enabling the training and employment of 30 men and women from the Langbos community. Construction was strategically timed during the farming off-season, and builders were provided with a competitive wage, two meals every workday, transportation to the local clinic, and lessons in health and nutrition.

SUPERADOBE A form of bagged earth architecture integrating ancient adobe building methods with contemporary safety and sustainability considerations, “superadobe” was developed by architect Nader Khalili, founder of the CalEarth research and teaching centre in California in 1991. One of the

centre’s alumni, Quintin Christian, trained the Langbos builders. Essentially, long sandbags (the Langbos shelter used locally manufactured fertiliser bags) are filled with moistened earth (scooped up just 10m from the shelter and transported there in wheelbarrows) and arranged in layers or long coils. The bags are tamped down and strands of barbed wire are placed between each layer of sandbag to act as both mortar and reinforcement. The design uses modern engineering concepts like base-isolation and post-tensioning. The long coils of sandbag provide compression (vertical) strength, and the barbed wire adds tensile (horizontal) strength. Superadobe uses structural principles of single and double curvature compression shells that have arches and domes, making it exceptionally strong. Using geometry and a simple compass (checked rigorously by the newly skilled gogos, appointed to the task), the builders steadily rose up the shelter’s three-domed structures. Erlank claims the tallest, which is about 8m high, is arguably the highest superadobe structure in Africa. Because the bags are not UV-resistant, the structure was plastered over, and finally, painted. “It’s not a perfect situation – superadobe makes us nervous as architects because this form of building is so alien to the sleek, straight lines we know and use on a daily basis – but we’re nervously excited,” Erlank chuckles.


Location • Langbos, Addo, Eastern Cape Construction Start date • March 2017 Completion date • August 2017 Site area • 411m2 Building area • 190m2 Cost • About R1million

The Langbos shelter used locally manufactured fertiliser bags filled with moistened earth, scooped up just 10m from the shelter and transported there in wheelbarrows. These are arranged in horizontal layers or long coils.

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External Venetian Blinds How can WAREMA Sunshading contribute to Green Star ratings?

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The structures are positioned to encourage the children to spill outside and play. The complex provides circulation and openness between the internal and external spaces during the day, while at night a critical level of security and supervision is easily achieved by locking all doors leading outside, allowing access only via the carer’s room.

The structural integrity of superadobe provides strength beyond a pitched-roof house, according to tests done in California – and a dome is one of the strongest structures known to architecture. The sandbags are flood-resistant and the earth itself provides insulation and fire-proofing. It allows almost anyone to build for themselves, easily and cheaply.

CULTURALLY INFORMED DESIGN Erlank and his team were struck by the organic development of the Langbos settlement and the simple beauty of informal local architecture, made of reeds and mud. “The small dwellings are positioned on vast open spaces, allowing each household to create their own identity and cater for their own needs. The open areas create easily accessible circulation within the settlement and spaces for adults to meet and kids to play. This contradicts the rigid and repetitive way in which RDP housing is imposed on similar communities,” Erlank says. “We chose to respect and draw inspiration from this informal layout while subtly introducing modernity and sustainable ideas to the children’s home. Rather than one large structure, we created a complex of smaller structures that mimic the settlement pattern of Langbos.” The structures are positioned to encourage the children to spill outside and play. The complex provides circulation and openness between the

internal and external spaces during the day, while at night a critical level of security and supervision is easily achieved by locking all doors leading outside, allowing connectivity only via the carer’s room. Erlank says superadobe was ideal for this organic loose-fit complex. “The structures created by the superadobe become solid, strong cylindrical elements, which are highly insulated, making the rammed earth volumes both sculptural and functional. Their aesthetic quality allows the structures and existing community complex to become an iconic presence within the settlement.” The domed structures accommodate separate bedrooms for six boys and six girls, a caregiver’s room, and a large central room for eating, homework and cooking facilities. A low-level, lightweight canopy is used to connect the sculptural forms. A superadobe boundary wall houses all services, including ablution facilities, and creates secondary

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circulation, while at the same time offering a decorative face to the existing settlement and creating areas that the community can access for shade and retrieving water. “When specifying materials, we considered longevity and maintenance. Plug-on elements such as the afdak, staircase, mezzanine floor, vents and flat roof sections are detailed elements constructed from timber and steel. All windows are aluminium and specified as standardised sizes. We knew that there would be a cost in these finishing touches but we were able to approach local businesses to supply or donate towards these items.” The Sundays River Valley region bakes in summer and is bitterly cold in winter. The structure has been carefully oriented, with the domes positioned to take advantage of the climate for daylight and natural ventilation, lowering the need for energy, while maintaining a comfortable temperature inside. “With the dome shape there is an active stack effect process that takes place. We have included a steel vent at the apex of the dome, which can be opened and closed depending on the season. The vent will also help with any condensation that occurs on colder mornings,” says Erlank. “We initially questioned introducing the dome shapes into the area but have since been fully convinced. Approaching the building, the shapes sit

well within the landscape and once you enter the domes, they create an interesting experience. It is quite a big volume, emphasised by the transition from flat roof passages into the dome, and bullethole windows filter light streaming in, turning it into an interactive and pleasurable space,” adds Erlank.

SUSTAINABILITY FEATURES • Superadobe construction uses local resources, readily available and cost-effective • Building envelope has high thermal value • Low maintenance • Labour intensive • The building is orientated for natural lighting and passive solar heating • Energy efficiency: LED off-grid lighting, low-pressure solar geyser, gas appliances • Rainwater harvesting • Wastewater reuse for irrigation and vegetable garden

Rather than one large structure, a complex of smaller structures that mimic the settlement pattern of Langbos was created. The domed structures accommodate separate bedrooms for six boys and six girls, a caregiver’s room, and a large, central room for eating, homework and cooking facilities.

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12M HIGH RETAINING WALL SYSTEM BUILT WITH SPECIALIST GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEERING Limited space and precipitous slopes called for some specialist geotechnical engineering in the construction of some of the concrete block wall structures in Bakoven on Cape Town’s Atlantic seaboard. The walls were built to retain a steep granite embankment which was cut to create a building platform for the construction of Infinity, a luxury sixstorey apartment block offering spectacular views of the Atlantic and the Twelve Apostles mountain range. Apart from the sea-facing front elevation, the remainder of the building is enveloped in a cocoon-like concrete block wall structure of varying heights and angles. The walls were designed by structural engineer, Fred Laker, with geotechnical engineering input on the three walls at the rear of the property from Kantey & Templer Consulting Engineers for the principle retaining components. All the walls were built by Dassenberg Retaining using L12 retaining wall blocks supplied by CMA member, Terraforce. Geotechnical site inspections and a detailed slope stability analysis conducted by Kantey & Templer revealed that the bulk of the materials exposed in the cut face took the form of deeply weathered granites. It was determined that if left unsupported parts of the embankment could be prone to instability during periods of high rainfall. Following an assessment of various support options Kantey & Templer recommended that two of the three main rear concrete block walls be provided with 300kN tie-back anchorages and concrete waler beams. Geofabric reinforcement was not an option in this instance due to the space between the retaining wall block facing and the embankment face

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being only 300mm. Steel reinforced, the waler beams measured 350mm thick and about 1 000mm high. They were constructed on the upper and lower wall sections and spanned the full width of the embankment face. Further reinforcement was achieved by filling the blockwork in the lower half of each of the three main concrete block walls with steel reinforced concrete. Free-draining sand was used to fill the space between the blocks and the embankment. The total combined height of the back-yard walls is 12.4m. The lower wall is the highest at 5.6m. The middle wall tops 3.7m and the upper wall 3.1m. Each wall was built at an angle of 75˚. There are two narrow terraces between the lower and middle walls and the middle and upper walls. A sophisticated sub-surface drainage system was built into the design to handle the percolation of water from the slope and to prevent the build-up of pore pressure. In addition, rain water flowing off the mountain slope is captured in a stone filled trapezoidal concrete channel which drains away from the wall into the stormwater drainage system. Perforated 100mm pipes were installed at the bottom of the fill material behind each wall. These drain into core drain pipes (gulleys) which in turn drain into stormwater pipes. The stormwater pipes run under the building and drain into a salt trap which then flows into municipal drainage. Fire escape staircases on each side of the property were built as part of the retaining wall structures using Terraforce’s 4x4 Step blocks. Installed by Dassenberg Retaining Systems. Terraforce blocks supplied by Klapmuts Concrete for the Western Cape.

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The introduction of flat roof sections enables the harvesting of runoff rain water from the domes on to the roof. Rainwater is collected in tanks and greywater is harvested for the vegetable garden. The layout of the domes includes sheltered courtyards that will be planted with deciduous trees, offering shade in summer and a sunny spot in winter. There is an existing vegetable garden that is currently being enhanced with geodesic domes – which work like mini hot houses – by Quintin Christian and the community.

CHANGING HEARTS AND MINDS The impact of this project on residents has been astonishing. Intsikelelo collaborated with EcoDomes Africa, a superadobe-building non-profit, which trained and managed the building team of men and women ranging in age from teenagers to pensioners. Workers fulfilled the various roles of earthbag building – digging up earth, sifting out rocks and organic material, mixing in 10% cement and water, filling the feedbags with the mix, and tamping the stuffed bags – as well as various administrative roles like logging hours and pay. Some of the builders are also candidates for roles as caregivers once the structure is up and running. Others saved enough of their income from this initial project to buy a vehicle and equipment to pursue new, client-paying superadobe projects. This collaboration has already started work on an outdoor classroom for a school in Motherwell outside Port Elizabeth. “We are focused on fostering upward mobility, so we run workshops to write CVs for builders, and are providing certificates for their involvement in this project.” This kind of community build is, however, not easy. Grava says one of the biggest challenges was co-ordinating the efforts of so many people across so many different disciplines, backgrounds, and cultures. The Langbos Children’s Home has involved donors, filmmakers, architects, engineers, superadobe teachers, and an entirely amateur community building team. “In total, about 50 people have been directly involved with the execution of the project on the ground. The building design was uncharted territory for even the most skilled professionals involved. It was essential to have a firmly established, common goal to work toward together. “We were fortunate in the heartfelt contribution of skills as well as many passionate donors and supporters. In the end, though, it was the local community in Langbos who took the ambitious

concept and brought it into existence. They were challenged by their environment and circumstances outside of the build, so it was important for us to take that into consideration and make sure the builders’ basic needs (like boots, meals, and trips to the clinic for patients managing chronic illnesses) were met so they could work.” The oldest builder, Thembikile Thompson, 62, worked on the project alongside his daughter and his grandson, while his great-grandson watched with intrigue from his play area in the Langbos crèche. “Everyone got experience to do this home, and I’m happy for that,” he exclaims. “The project is for the Langbos people and everybody worked hard.” For Grava, too, this project has been a lifechanging experience. “If I had known just how much time, energy, and continual problem-solving it would require, I may never have started. But now I have a much greater sense of what is possible. The Langbos Children’s Home pushed boundaries, both in its cuttingedge superadobe design and its collaborative and community-driven execution.”

Christopher Grava and his brother Nick have formed a deep connection with the Langbos community, and were the drivers of this project.


Client: Langbos Créche and Care Centre/Intsikelelo, Chris Grava,,, 073 220 3168 Architect: Jason Erlank Architects,,, 072 854 7747 Structural engineer: Structural Solutions, Rigo Govoni,,, 041 581 3210 Superadobe consultant: Quintin Christian, Contractor: Bayview Construction, Rob Hayter,, 083 283 5368 Flooring: Chris Howes Construction,, 041 365 2711 Aluminium: ANSO,, 041 365 2733 Aluminium profiles: Aluminium Purpose, Dewald Gouws, 082 300 4772

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Sasol Place, Sandton









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THE BEAUTIFUL ONES ARE NOT YET BORN The importance and relevance of the green building movement to Africa’s development. WO R D S T H UL A N I KUZ WAYO


he title of this article is borrowed from a book by Ghanaian writer Ayi Kwei Armah. The book uncovers the protagonist’s existential crisis – the struggle to remain honest and fair amidst pervasive corruption. The antagonists want to maintain the status quo for immediate gain with no regard for the effect on the rest of the system and its future. Undoubtedly, the book’s story is applicable in a socio-political sense. I venture to say, the principle is also true in a developmental sense. It is difficult to deal with forces of change when those who want to preserve the status quo refuse to adopt a new way of doing, no matter how beneficial it may be. In this article, “the beautiful ones” refers to green building as an approach and its positive impact on the built environment in Africa’s cities. A sustainable and resilient built environment is vital for human wellbeing by supporting and enabling patterns of human interaction and social integration. Therefore, buildings and spaces created by them form an integral part of the fabric of a place. There is a perfect storm of risks facing cities in developing countries. Social unrest triggered by sharp and sudden price hikes and shortages of vital commodities, dependence on food produced outside of cities, rapid urbanisation and spatial mismatch all contribute to an increasing sense of instability. An approach and paradigm that acknowledges these forces and factors is crucial in any developmental intervention or initiative. We can no longer develop the way we currently do. It is unsustainable to continue to deplete our natural resources in the name of expedient delivery or shortsighted costsavings for maximum profits. The scale and complexity of the design, construction and operation of buildings presents an opportunity and a challenge. There are a multitude of professional disciplines and trades involved, working within a

regulatory framework, budget constraints, social and cultural context, and an ecosystem. The current drought in parts of South Africa – an already water scarce country – is a test of South Africa’s approach to city-making and support. Any development currently underway should be cognizant of this situation. Buildings are built to last 40-100 years and cities much longer. Current developments should shift to avoid locking in inefficiencies over the long term. There is an opportunity to future-proof places using sustainability and resilience principles from conception. The same principles must be applied to any renewal projects. The concept of future-proofing is based on responding adequately to the current reality and pattern. To quote Plautus: “It is wretched business to be digging a well just as thirst is mastering you.” Climate change has influenced social structures and material culture. According to Professor Amira Osman of the University of Johannesburg’s architecture department, “climate change has always been linked to the growth and demise of major civilizations”. It has resulted in forced migrations and has been a stressor in battles for resources. Consider the negative impact the absence of water has on cultural and religious practices associated with water. Therefore, sustainability and resilience thinking are not obstacles, but key drivers to effective service delivery and a vital means to effectively alleviate poverty and change South Africa’s apartheid spatial legacy and beyond. Green building is one such holistic approach. While the various national development plans and agendas of different countries acknowledge the importance of addressing various challenges equally, the implementation falls short. Green building presents a powerful lever in meeting Africa’s developmental agenda and various industry stakeholders across the continent must understand this role in the agenda, including the global Sustainable Development Goals.

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Therefore, green building needs to be accepted as relevant and as important as gender equality and political stability. Green building acknowledges interdependencies. However, to effect change, good governance is vital in leading the impact, scale and acceleration of the transformation of Africa’s built environment. City governments are tasked with the delivery of basic services and addressing environmental challenges is integral to this as the two are interdependent. We cannot sustain ourselves if we do not sustain the environment. Indeed, as Julia “Judy” Bonds put it: “There are no jobs on a dead planet”. Since the continent consists of developing countries, there are buildings and infrastructure yet to be built and this offers an opportunity to avoid locking in inefficiencies. The call to action for governments is the following: n Leadership – government must be, and be seen to be, exemplary in green building. n Policy and legislation – develop guidelines showing the lowhanging fruits, promote these and eventually legislate them. n Facilitate – celebrate entities in government, business, labour and civil society that are effecting change through green building, be it by means of participating in training and education or awareness campaigns. Co-create financial incentives together with relevant stakeholders. While it is important that governments lead the change, they cannot go it alone. Green building councils provide knowledge and tools as well as platforms for collaboration and co-creation. The Africa Region Network of Green Building Councils focuses on four strategies: 1. Support strong regulatory and voluntary frameworks. 2. Recognise and scale local building materials and practices. 3. Train the green building professionals of today and tomorrow. 4. Direct much-needed foreign and domestic investment to green building. This calls for deliberately and actively putting aside our learning, culture, knowledge, opinions, and worldview to deeply understand people’s entire experience in the built environment. After observing the squalor, abject poverty and social ills accompanying urban poverty for the first time, one of the characters in Fred Khumalo’s book Bitches’ Brew says: “Tell me, people, how can you call yourself a human being when you are wallowing at the bottom of this smelly mound pretending to be humanity? Children who play in the middle of the street, and make rude gestures to you when you tell them to get out of the way. Women who get drunk with their men in public so early in the day?” These are the “inner city blues" experienced on the fringes of cities – people and places on the outskirts due to apartheid spatial planning. This experience of unequal scenes resonates in places such as Makoko village and Victoria Island in Nigeria, Ndumbuini and Loresho Estate in Kenya, and Alexandra and Sandton in South Africa.

Urban regeneration/renewal plans often result in forced evictions or reinforced inequality. The human cost is not factored in or is seen to be a soft issue for the greater good – a grievous error. Understandably, government development plans reflect a desired future of cities that differs from reality. However, the rate of urbanisation and increased urban divide has outpaced what is acceptable. In fact, the structural violence in our cities today will characterise cities of the future unless urban leaders see this as an unacceptable future and act without delay, completely understanding that plans are a means to an end and not an end in themselves. It has been said that the state of a place’s environment is a reflection of the quality of governance. The same is true when an abundance of natural resources with weak governance or outright governance failure leads to terrible development outcomes – the resource curse. While by no means a silver bullet, green building is an approach that begins to challenge this paradox. In response to the challenges, there has been solutions-based innovation in pockets across Africa – such as mobile banking and commercial drones delivery services. These are solutions that need scale for greater impact and the necessity that prompted their development to be addressed. Africa must move from survivalist solutions to systems and environments that engender aspirational innovation and help communities to thrive. Green building councils by nature are strong advocates for this shift. Currently in Africa there are 10 green building councils, namely in Morocco, Egypt, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa and Mauritius. In other countries there are budding green building councils that will receive support from the regional network. Green building is critical for creating better cities in Africa. The perfect storm is intensifying and the green building movement is gaining momentum in Africa as a response. “The beautiful ones will be born”. Therefore, action-based policies are necessary. Implementers and other doers need to be given much needed support, especially government backing. In her acceptance speech in 2004 after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, Wangari Maathai said: “In the course of human history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.” Indeed it is.

Thulani Kuzwayo is an esteemed member of the earthworks editorial advisory board. He is the public sector managing executive of the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) and has recently been appointed regional chair of the Africa Regional Network – a group of green building councils working to advance green building within the region.

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2017/09/06 10:28 AM

95 Years of history - one year of renewal

This year JG Afrika celebrates its first birthday since rebranding from Jeffares & Green and implementing its 51% empowerment shareholding. It is 95 years since the firm was founded in 1922. Our name may have changed, but our core values of experience, quality and integrity remain the bedrock of the firm. We have done more than sustain, we have evolved.

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2017/09/04 12:16 PM


Engineered to keep your roof

Best Performing WIDE-COVERAGE CONCEALED FIX System on the market



• Achieves 2kPa* hold down in negative wind uplift load tests at maximum span • State-of-the-art clip** features a solid anchor base, ensuring unyielding clip engagement at every rib • Unique system provides enhanced underlapping edge stability • The clip angle is maintained ensuring that shoulders remain in contact with edge spur • Deep pans with longitudinal rib embossing strengthens the sheet and allows for excellent water run-off and minimal dust collection *

Results after a 30% safety reduction factor


Design Registration# F2017/00455

Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Polokwane, Nelspruit, Bloemfontein. Email: | Further branches throughout SADC, Southern and Eastern Africa.

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