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Volume 5 - November 27th, 2012


Prefab modular housing in under 3 weeks? DIY polka dot wall dressings

Landscape and garden design implications of water conservation


Vol. 5 - November 27th, 2012




SAVMS: prefab modular housing in under 3 weeks?

22 Are Green Builders Moving Beyond LEED?


Landscape and Garden Design Implications of Water Conservation

23 Effective Solar Energy Storage System Developed


DIY Wall Dressings: Polka dot designs that add sophistication

24 World’s tallest building will be constructed in 90 days



11 What You Need to Know About Bathroom Floor Pans for New Homes

25 Landlords advised to refurbish their properties ahead of upswing

12 Gardens by the Bay // Grant Associates

25 Construction group increasingly looking at foreign opportunities

15 Media Architecture ‘Oscars’ Awards Announced

26 Investec Property Fund’s distribution up 7.1%

17 Energy efficiency drive creating demand for energy manager training programmes

27 Growthpoint set to drop deposits

18 Contemporary Lighting Home // Houghton Residence, South Africa by SAOTA 20 Endesa Pavilion in Barcelona, Spain, by IaaC

DECOR 28 Soothing Bedroom Paint Ideas 30 Dream Homes Built for Books and the Nerds Who Love Them


SAVMS: prefab modular housing in under 3 weeks? Madrid-based architectural studio CSO Arquitectura teamed up with prefab construction specialists Torsan to create SAVMS, a modular housing system designed to maximize adaptability while minimizing ecological footprint. The flexibility of the system allows customers to choose a house of their own design, while the prefabricated approach allows costs to be kept more or less fixed.

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SPECIAL FEATURE According to CSO, design, manufacturing and construction are each remarkably speedy. Once the customer has chosen their preferred layout (selected from 10 or so standard units), and selected their preferred finishes, CSO produces the detailed drawings required for manufacture – a process that takes about a week. The steel frame structure and paneling is manufactured and preassembled in the factory over three days, and finally the pieces are put together on site in the space of another week. If these times are accurate, you could conceivably be turning your key in the front door of a SAVMS home within three weeks of deciding you want one. As for the eco-design features, Arch Daily reports that the system is designed for natural cross-ventilation, can accommodate rainwater harvesting as well as both photovoltaic and thermal solar systems. SAVMS stands for Sistema Abierto de Viviendas Modulares Sostenibles, which roughly translates as Open Sustainable Modular Housing System. CSO says that the cost of SAVMS house starts at ₏700/m2 (about R8000/m2), and is presumably determined by choices of finish and other extras. Exterior facade finishes (which can be mixed and matched) include porcelain, corrugated galvanized steel, wood and VIROC. However, once the spec is locked, CSO claims the price is fixed.

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Landscape and Garden Design Implications of Water Conservation Water may well end up as the “new Oil”, in terms of resource value. Understanding this will matter as time goes on, especially Out West in the United States, as well as in countless other climates and continents. With the thought of conserving water borne foremost in mind, what does an unrepentant garden lover do to adjust to the new realities? How do we change the way we design gardens and landscapes? What fundamental changes are required in us to develop gardens in still-beautiful ways when we face so many hard decisions about social responsibility and in such a public way? Let’s face it – as I have said before, landscaping is the “Ultimate Cosmetic”. No one deals with a larger palette. What do we do when we find out we have an actual budgeted amount of water use? As absurd as this question may sound, it is the height of design wisdom. Water auditing for existing landscapes and gardens have been and should take place prior to their installation or further development. A sense of how much water we have used in the past should reflect favorably on making changes to lessen them in some very specific ways. The methods are out there and the results

for redeveloping existing lawns and gardens as well as for installing future ones can be and should be more than exciting, actually. There is much to learn but it does not have to be anywhere close to disastrous. The fact is, done right, we can literally make things better as opposed to merely settling for some dire end. In the first place, the primary sponge for water in typical landscapes remains lawns. I have always maintained that cutting down lawn space actually can give a completely new and fresher look to an existing home landscape. While lawns serve a variety of functions, including a place for children to play (perhaps its most important role, IMO), they do not have to be a monolithic presence. Broken up appropriately, over time, a lawn can change into many things, among them an adjunct and contrast to new color and new features. Lawns do not have to be gigantic at all. Inasmuch as their cool characteristics make them so similar to water in a landscape design’s effects, leaving a pool or “lake” of green is wise and refreshing. Cutting the size down to resemble a feature in their own right can include shaping them to reflect their “semi-aqueous” nature. It can set a lawn apart, actually and thereby Page 5 |


take advantage of how glorious colors look as a backdrop to swaths of green. Lawn grasses have been developed now which send their roots an insane depth, which require far less waterings and are virtually geared to a more responsible water usage. They stay just as green for longer during Summers- in fact, more so than Bluegrass – owing to their drought tolerant natures. My bottom line is this: so far, I have not cut out the notion of grass lawns, simply because I happen to love them. Admittedly, they should be used far, far less in desert climates – among others – and there is a body of thought that has no need whatsoever for a lawn to make a garden beautiful. In fact, let’s visit some of them now. Landscapes whose be-all and end-all in the past was a wide expanse of lawn studded with trees have now become far more complex and interesting. In place of the expensive water-thirsty lawn, we now have “features”, like this water feature and the pretty patio and walkway pictured above. Full of color and shape, the carnival atmosphere lightens the mood yet still provides a consistency of form and function. The ultimate irony of a landscape such as this is that, after | Page 6

figuring the watering costs for a lawn set ion the same place over time, this place will have comparatively paid for itself in three years. After that it is just beauty and money. A different mind set in general accompanies all this increasingly complex designing, now that the monolithic lawn is out of consideration. Suddenly, things like more patio space are entertained. The notion of sculpting the actual land by creating hills and mounds studded with rocks and plants becomes a fascinating alternative, making the entirety of any landscape suddenly more riveting an event. More park-like, less boring, more interesting and livelier by far, suddenly we are actually released to play around a little bit. Art seeps into the equation at about this time and all designers, I bet, can trace the moment of this discovery. It actually gets a bit intimidating, the truth is, because designers become far freer to experiment and to entertain alternatives for the regular folks – instead of just for the wealthy. In fact, it becomes an imperative.


DIY Wall Dressings:

Polka dot designs that add sophistication Revamp your interior and give your room five options towards a refreshing outtake on walls as we borrow designs from our very own home.

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SPECIAL FEATURE Skirts, shirts, shoes, neck ties! I’m dehydrated from this intense cold wave; my vision is impacted and now I’m seeing spots! Or can it be that polka dots made a comeback and wormed their way not into the hearts and wardrobe of children but adults as well? I’m sure this news is awesome and welcomed to many of us as this fashionable life sized freckle pattern can be easily dressed up or down, made young or old and always encourages spontaneity and carefree skipping through the parking lot. Well there are so many more reasons for you to click your heels up together in glee as we address the polka dots coming out of the closet and finding themselves loving plastered upon our walls. The nursery, living room, family room, the polka dot can be implanted into your décor and bring the following aspects:

Dimension By having different sized dots and even hollow painted circles you can add an easy and accessible way of enhancing your living quarters with shape, size and the illusion of depth and dimension on your walls.

Recklessness For a modern and more eclectic vibe apply the dimension, color and contrast the polka dot has the power to lend. Overlap them, create patterns within your polka dots give them liberty to be any size or color they want and your work and living room just shaved off ten years and is truly a 2012 baby.

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Contrast and Accent Lighten a dark wall with some white polka dots or darken a wall with bold hues. Make it the backdrop on one wall or even the ceiling. This can be a fun and more affordable way to giving your room an accent color to your solitary tone with circles that will present contrast and a point of interest.

Color Coordination Most rooms have only four walls and one ceiling, and since Candy Land is just a game we try not to paint each panel a different color from opposing sides of the color wheel. But you can live out your wildest color fantasies with multiple colors of polka dots. This is your chance to subtly mix in a new color introducing to your dĂŠcor palette some flavor with no overbearing consequences.

Refinement The smaller and more spaced out the more refined your polka dot wall will seem. Keeping these small spaced out polka dots in a uniform and tame pattern the more refined as well. This approach is great for a Victorian theme as the backdrop to your scrolled, velvet tufted furniture.

Now that you have an appreciation for the new wall accessory you can give a shot at it yourself with some DIY wall dressing. Cutting a portion of a laundry basket that features circular ventilation holes. Using this as your stencil tape in place on your wall and paint over the plastic basket. As you move along your wall move your stencil so that at least one row of painted dots is centered in the end of your stencil to keep appropriate spacing. Although you have so many options on how you can add these charming polka dots to your wall they don’t have to be symmetrical, the same size or even filled. Page 9 |

ARCHITECTURE Designing our crime doesn’t just rely on cameras; people’s eyes, ears and confidence in their community can be just as important as weapon against antisocial behaviour. The building plans include designed out multiple escape routes, aerial walkways and open access undercrofts which caused so many of the problems on the existing estate, and replaced them with more traditional streets and pavements. These have natural surveillance from passing traffic, pedestrians and nearby homes and overlooked streets with traditional front doors have been reintroduced to the delight of residents.

Designing out crime: how good architecture can save money Built in the 1970s, the Green Man Lane estate in Ealing was plagued with problems, including antisocial behaviour and drugs. Something had to change. A damning 2007 study, commissioned by the borough of Ealing to look at the options available for its future, concluded the crumbling estate, a tightly packed community of 1,000 people, was plagued by serious problems that were either exacerbated or caused by the architecture. The authors spoke of fragmented street patterns and a lack of clear and safe routes through the estate, poor public spaces and dereliction. The challenge was to create a neighbourhood far removed from its predecessor, without the feel or atmosphere of a traditional city housing estate. The new five-hectare (12.4 acre) Green Man Lane development was built and designing out crime has played an important role in its design principles. The result was design aimed at making life difficult for the street criminals and drug dealers. Much of what was done is getting back to the basics that make for strong community living. To protect Green Man Lane, it was not just the environment, but also the perception of those living there that had to change. That’s where the principle of “secured by design” comes into its own. That principle is a simple one and has been found to reduce crime risk by as much as 75%. | Page 10

Rear gardens are no longer accessible from car parks or other public spaces, and instead back on to adjacent gardens or the secure community gardens within the new squares. Onstreet parking benefits from natural surveillance to deter car crime. Houses and ground floor maisonettes have front gardens with railings to create defensible space and deter nuisance attacks. Pathways through these area have been designed to be obvious thoroughfares; we’ve signposted the way to make it easily navigable for both residents and visitors.

Green Man Lane - design aimed at making life difficult for the street criminals and drug dealers. Research around the UK shows that properties built in areas designed for safety suffers 50% fewer burglaries. Just upgrading the doors in social housing has been proven to reduce burglary by as much as 20%. Car-related crime can fall by around 25% and residents report feeling safer in their homes and community. Simply building cul-de-sacs into communities instead of permeable road layouts also reduces the risk of burglary by 11%, rising to 28% where major roads also feature. Fighting antisocial behaviour is an expensive and lengthy process for social landlords, who spend an estimated £212m per year in staff time and legal costs. Damage to properties caused by burglaries adds to this total through repairs and maintenance. Designing out crime is a drastic but proactive move that we hope will reduce the amount of money needed to combat antisocial behaviour and crime in the Green Man Lane estate for the future. designing-out-crime-antisocial-behaviour


What You Need to Know About Bathroom Floor Pans for New Homes You and I both know, as well as everybody else, that buying new objects are cool. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with keeping your old belongings, especially those with sentimental value, but new possessions, whether they be gadgets, applications you buy from online stores, or even just simple flip-flops just have that special value that make you treat it differently, at least for the time being. Dropping a phone when you just bought it would seem like the end of the world, but doing so a few years later would just illicit a ‘meh’, at the very least. New homes are also like this, and you’d know that having your new home is the best opportunity to get the best components for it. An often taken for granted aspect is the bathroom, specifically the shower base that most people just shrug off as just another type of floor. In reality, however, the bathroom floor pan is one of the more problematic components of the modern day home. A little effort goes a long way, and in this case paying attention to your floor pan would save you a lot of trouble later on. There are two basic types of floor pans available to homeowners: prefabricated floor pans and custom floor pans. The former kind can be availed of in hardware and department stores and would be ready for installation by almost anyone with basic knowledge of tools and common sense. The latter requires the deft skill and experience of a contractor because it would require knowledge of plumbing and carpentry, among other disciplines.

Since you’re dealing with a newly constructed bathroom from a newly purchased or likewise constructed home, it would be best to go for custom floor pans. In the first place, you’d already be in contact with contractors, and you can easily ask them to construct a custom floor plan for your bathroom’s shower area. Also, unlike with prefabricated floor plans, you’d merely just wait for your floor pan to be installed, by professionals nonetheless, and prioritize other matter like your budding career perhaps or even just spending time for your family. Yes, saving money is an important act nowadays what with the economic turmoil that has been plaguing the world. However, there is a huge difference between being smart and being stingy. If you have the resources to pull off an important and useful floor pan customization job, you’d be a fool not to take advantage of what you have. You know what they say: “If you have it, flaunt it.” If you have a new home and you still have the resources to proceed with your plans, go for a custom floor pan for your bathroom’s shower space.

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Gardens by the Bay // Grant Associates Gardens by the Bay is one of the largest garden projects of its kind in the world. Ultimately, the site will total 101 hectares comprising three distinct gardens – Bay South, Bay East and Bay Central. Located on reclaimed land in Singapore’s new downtown at Marina Bay, the site will provide a unique leisure destination for local and international visitors.

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The project is an integral part of Singapore’s “City in a Garden” vision, designed to raise the profile of the city globally whilst showcasing the best of horticulture and garden artistry. Following an international design competition, a team led by landscape architecture firm Grant Associates was appointed in 2006 by the National Parks Board of Singapore to masterplan Bay South Garden, the first and largest of the three planned gardens at Gardens by the Bay.

Two giant biomes designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects – the Flower Dome (1.2 hectare) and the Cloud Forest Dome (0.8 hectare) – display plants and flowers from the Mediterranean-type climatic regions and Tropical Montane (Cloud Forest) environments and provide an all-weather “edutainment” space within the Gardens.

Between 25 and 50 metres in height, the 18 Supertrees designed by Grant Associates are iconic vertical gardens, with emphasis placed on creating a “wow” factor through the vertical display of tropical flowering climbers, epiphytes Alongside lead designers Grant Associates, the British design and ferns. At night, these canopies come alive with lighting team for Bay South includes Wilkinson Eyre (architects); and projected media. An aerial walkway suspended from the Atelier Ten (environmental design consultants); Atelier One Supertrees offers visitors a unique perspective on the gar(structural engineers); Land Design Studio (museum and visitor center designers) and Thomas Matthews (communi- dens. The Supertrees are embedded with sustainable energy and water technologies integral to the cooling of the Cooled cation designers). Conservatories. Taking inspiration from the form of the orchid, Grant Associates’ masterplan is a rich fusion of nature, technology and environmental management. Stunning architectural structures are combined with a wide variety of horticultural displays, daily light and sound shows, lakes, forests, event spaces and a host of dining and retail offerings. The whole plan has an intelligent environmental infrastructure, allowing endangered plants, which could not normally grow in Singapore to flourish, providing both leisure and education to the nation.

Two collections The Heritage Gardens and The World of Plants centre on ‘Plants and People’ and ‘Plants and Planet’. Together with mass flowering and coloured foliage landscape, they form a spectacle of colour and texture and fragrance within the Gardens, providing a mesmerising experience for visitors. Page 13 |


Gardens by the Bay // Grant Associates Architects: Grant Associates Location: Singapore Project Year: 2012 Photographs: Courtesy of Grant Associates Cooled Conservatories Design: Wilkinson Eyre Architects

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Media Architecture ‘Oscars’ Awards Announced The Media Architecture ‘Oscars’ were recently awarded for the first time at an internationally well attended ceremony in Aarhus, Denmark on November 16. Common features of the six awarded projects, which are very different winning projects, are their ability to integrate media and architecture – and the profound impact on their urban surroundings. A Korean shopping mall façade using optical illusions. A sparkling, Austrian art museum with beautiful ‘responsive skin’. A German office building acting like a telephone-controlled computer game. A Finnish silo with thousands of little lights that change pattern and appearance, when weather changes. At the ceremony, Awards Chair Dr. Gernot Tscherteu underscored that having these new awards is not only important to the nominated projects, but to the entire field of architecture: “When you have to rank projects, like we have done in the jury, you suddenly need to outline a set of quality standards. This is actually a very important process for a new field like this; for the first time we have reached some common conclusions regarding what is good quality media architecture,” he said.

Good quality media architecture, Dr. Tscherteu explains, is when the media surface successfully corresponds with the building itself to form a unity; when media and architecture merge into one. This was e.g. the case with the winner in the category spatial media arts, the Finnish project SILO 468: “The Finnish winner project SILO 468 was a very pleasant surprise. It is an art project built where a new city area is constructed, and as such has a very important role in city development.” Not only the Finnish winners but also the people behind the impressive winning projects from Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Korea had traveled the long way to Denmark’s second largest city to receive their awards.

Winner Animated Architecture: Kunsthaus Graz – BIX, Graz Austria (shown above) “The Graz building as a responsive skin of some sort was always in our mind – the ‘realities’ boys made it reality – with sparkle. What more could you ask for?” Peter Cook; Architect, London, GB Page 15 |


Winner Business and Money Architecture: Galleria Centercity, Seoul, South Korea Galleria Centercity marks the entrance to a new development area in Cheonan, South Korea and will play a major role in the new urban development. The strategy for the building enclosure consists of creating an optical illusion. When seen from a distance the visuals on the large canvas are sharp and recognizable, whereas from within the direct vicinity these appear dissolved and cause the building to glow.

Winner Participatory Architecture: Blinkenlights, Berlin, Germany Celebrating its 20th anniversary the Chaos Computer Club has made a special present to itself and the city of Berlin. From September 12th, 2001 to February 23rd, 2002, the famous “Haus des Lehrers” (teacher’s house) office building at Berlin Alexanderplatz has been enhanced to become the world’s biggest interactive computer display.

Winner Spatial Media Art: Silo 468 Kruunuvuorenranta, Helsinki, Finland The art piece converts a disused oil silo into a wondrous light display and a civic space. Public will gain access to the vast interior of the 35m diameter 16 meter tall steel silo which will be dark red inside. Sunlight will fill the space with dappled shadows creating a spectacular daytime space. At night 1280 white LED´s flicker and sway on the surface of the silo controlled by a bespoke software mimicking swarms of birds in flight – a reference to silo´s seaside location. | Page 16


Energy efficiency drive creating demand for energy manager training programmes A series of Certified Energy Manager (CEM) training programmes has been implemented to keep up with the demand for CEMs to support the energy efficiency programmes where building owners and managers are trying to reduce overall energy consumption. A CEM is experienced in all the aspects of energy management. The approved training provider for the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), the Energy Training Foundation (EnTF), has a CEM programme that has resulted in 1 375 CEMs being trained in South Africa over the last decade. A CEM is required to attend an intensive training course and a written four-hour examination needs to be passed with 70%. The prerequisites to qualify for the certification process have been designed to take the possible diversity of education and practical experience an individual may have into account. Candidates must meet the criteria of having obtained an engineering or architectural degree or be registered as an engineer or architect, with at least three years’ experience in energy engineering or energy management.

Alternatively, candidates must have obtained a business or business-related degree, with at least five years’ experience in energy engineering or energy management; or a technical degree, with eight years’ experience in energy engineering or energy management; or ten or more years of verified experience in energy engineering or energy management. Candidates who pass the examination, but do not qualify in terms of any other aspects at the time of application, receive the designation ‘energy manager in training’ and are given the opportunity to gain work experience so that the high level of skill required can be attained for CEM certification. A CEM closes the gap to ensure the optimal operational performance of a plant, facility, or building and propels engineers and managers in the industry into a category of distinguished professionals where AEE certification is recognised in 89 countries. Page 17 |


Contemporary Lighting Home // Houghton Residence, South Africa by SAOTA

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The 6th 1448 Houghton Residence was completed in 2012 by SAOTA – Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl Truen Architects. This contemporary property was built for an extended Johannesburg family. The U-shaped house has been split into two separate sites, built around an internal courtyard, both sharing a common entrance. This beautiful project consists of: living spaces, kitchen and private garden, games room, a pool and a gym, all connected to the courtyard. Modern, elegant, spacious, luxurious, intimate it’s just perfect for a happy family. The decor and furniture selected are modern and have strong lines to complement the linear architecture. OKHA Interiors designed a number of bespoke furniture pieces. Neutral palettes with accent colors have been used throughout. Strong graphic rugs add drama and texture to the rooms, which offset against the solid architectural surfaces.

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Endesa Pavilion in Barcelona, Spain, by IaaC

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Endesa Pavilion is a self-sufficient solar prototype installed at the Marina Dock, within the framework of the International BCN Smart City Congress. Over a period of one year it will be used as control room for monitoring and testing several projects related to intelligent power management.

tion to the solar path—active and permeable to the south, closed and protective to the north. The behavior of this skin makes visible the environmental and climatic processes that surrounds the prototype. Higher overhangs allow more energy collection and greater protection against the incident radiation during summer.

The pavilion is actually the prototype of a multi-scale construction system—a façade composed by modular components, like solar brick, that respond to photovoltaic gaining, solar protection, insulation, ventilation, lighting...The same parametric logic adapts façade geometries to the specific environmental requirements for each point of the building. It is is a single component that integrates all levels of intelligence that the building needs.

Solar houses should be built with solar materials. The wood, grown with solar power, is used now to build a self-sufficient photovoltaic pavilion. The current digital fabrication techniques, and the last advances in energy management and distributed production, make technology closer to the user, open and participatory. The Endesa pavilion is an accessible device, technologically soft and easily understandable. Its construction, materials and energy, and its climatic behavior are transparent to the inhabitant.

From “form follows function” (classic 20th century statement) to “form follows energy”: The façade opens in reac-

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Are Green Builders Moving Beyond LEED? With the North American green building sector moving into the mainstream, conventional design and construction practices are quickly becoming synonymous with green ideals. According to the recent Green Building Market Barometer report by US construction company Turner Construction Co., while green building is on the rise, particularly among businesses, interest in the US Green Building Council’s formal Leadership in Energy and Energy Design (LEED) is down. The report surveyed approximately 700 industry professionals on their green building views and found that, while motivations such as doing ‘the right thing’ and cutting costs offered incentives to follow green design, development and running practices, they were not enough to incite them to garner LEED certification. According to the recorded statistics, the percentage of executives looking to gain LEED certification for their business has fallen from the 61 per cent saying they were ‘very likely’ or ‘extremely likely’ to do so in 2008 to 48 per cent making the same claims now.

of the green building market that in spite of this reduction in enthusiasm for LEED certification, respondents are still building green,” he said. “While some respondents are relying on their own standards or are considering another rating system, LEED certification remains the most widely used third party verification of achievement that is recognized by consumers and that can be used to market and promote a property.” Though many executives understand that green building is the right thing to do, they are more motivated in practice by economic rather than environmental factors, as exemplified by a focus on energy reduction measures rather than water conservation. “Energy efficiency figures prominently in the decision-making process of green building primarily because of its large economic impact,” Deane said. “Water efficiency in Green construction was seen as less important. This is in spite of a growing awareness that water is a finite resource, both in its operational use and its role in the production of goods and materials. While the direct economic impact of water efficiency is less than the savings on energy, its environmental impact is quite significant.”

Turner Construction vice president and chief sustainability officer Michael Deane said the shift away from LEED certification centres on a newfound confidence in the sector, with businesses relying on their own standards and catering to their own unique criteria first.

It stands to reason also, that the costs associated with LEED certification to detract from the US green building authority rating. So while green building continues to boom, the sway of the LEED title fails to impress as it once did, with businesses moving beyond recognition as a motivator, to truly finding value in these green building practices.

“We’ve seen from our own work and the continuing growth

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Effective Solar Energy Storage System Developed Researchers at the University of Arkansas have developed a solar energy storage system that stores the thermal energy (heat) absorbed by solar panels at a lower cost than conventional energy storage methods. The most common conventional methods for such a system involves storing the heat absorbed by solar thermal power plants in tanks of molten salt or in beds of packed rock or oils. This is, in general, thermal energy storage. Beds of packed rock are currently the cheapest and most efficient type of thermal energy storage, and they do work, but, as is the case with everything, there is room for improvement. Beds of packed rock expand and contract as their temperature rises and falls, respectively. This was called “thermal ratcheting,” which stresses the walls of storage tanks because the rocks expand beyond their normal size (the size they were when they were fitted into the tank) — similar to how ice expands and can break glass in your freezer or pipes in winter. “The most efficient, conventional method of storing energy from solar collectors satisfies the U.S. Department of Energy’s goal for system efficiency,” said Panneer Selvam, professor of civil engineering. “But there are problems associated with this method. Filler material used in the conventional method stresses and degrades the walls of storage tanks.

This creates inefficiencies that aren’t calculated and, more importantly, could lead to catastrophic rupture of a tank.” The new method from the University of Arkansas researchers is a structured thermocline system in which there are parallel plates of concrete with steel pipes running through them. The steel pipes transfer heat absorbed by solar panels into the concrete, which stores it until it is needed to boil water and produce steam (which is usually the case), or supply heat to other heat-powered generators such as Stirling engines or thermoelectric modules. This thermocline concept survived temperatures up to 600 degrees Celsius and absorbed heat at an efficiency of 93.9%. It has an impressively low cost of $0.78 per kWh, far less than the U.S Department of Energy’s goal of $15 per kWh. In South Africa this translates to around R7 per kWh. To give you a better idea of how this compares to batteries: Lead-acid batteries cost upwards of R220 per kWh, So, this should lead to further growth of the solar industry, which thoroughly benefits from reduced energy storage costs. Solar market penetration can be very high when using energy storage. Page 23 |


World’s tallest building will be constructed in 90 days Construction is set to begin next month on the world’s tallest building in Changsha, China, which will be completed in just 90 days. Construction firm Broad Sustainable Building (BSB), a subsidiary of China’s Broad Group, has corrected earlier reports that its 220-storey Sky City tower would take seven months to complete, the skyscraper will be finished at the end of March next year. Following foundation work that will continue until the end of December, the company said its schedule to construct the 838-metre tower “will go on as planned with the completion of five storeys a day.” “We have not issued any press statement on this and it will go on as planned… we have not said anything about 210 days,” said Broad Group senior VP Juliet Jiang, adding that the project is still awaiting approval from the government. As previously reported on Dezeen, BSB plans to build the tower using pre-fabricated components that slot together like a Meccano toy. On completion, the skyscraper would be taller than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and include schools, a hospital, 17 helipads and apartments for over 30,000 people. The company has already successfully demonstrated its approach on a smaller scale by constructing a 30-storey tower in 15 days. Broad’s CEO Zhang Ye claims his pre-fabricated towers are designed with a different load-bearing structure to conventional towers so that they use less concrete and steel and can be produced in factories rather than on-site. However, some construction experts believe the tower is simply too tall to be built with ready-made parts. Bart Leclercq, head of structures in the Middle East at WSP, the engineering firm behind The Shard in London, warned that documents for Sky City on BSB’s website make no mention of wind load. “There are forces working on a building that tall, including the wind. It is not a minor thing at that height,”. “By just using these simple units all put together, you are not going to get enough stiffness; this building will have an enormous storey drift, and it will sway.” | Page 24


Landlords advised to refurbish their properties ahead of upswing Landlords should refurbish their properties in periods of slower economic growth to take advantage of the inevitable uptick in rentals in the medium term. With a scarcity of work having made contractors competitive on price, property owners are well advised to take advantage of the environment by upgrading their properties where possible. Spire Property Management MD Marc Edwards says it is inevitable that it will become a landlords’ market again, and until such time landlords must be proactive and have areas of their buildings refurbished to make properties more attractive to future tenants. Mr Edwards says landlords must assess buildings internally and externally and, crucially, they must relook the target market they are trying to appeal to and ensure their buildings are competitive within the market and within the geographic node that the buildings exist. “With rising electricity tariffs, one of the most significant refurbishments that a landlords can undertake are those that reduce electricity consumption and therefore a reduction in the cost of occupancy,” he says. Mr Edwards says the obvious place to start is energy management, where simple changes such as converting to LED lighting or using other energy-efficient light bulbs can have an effect on operating costs. “There are numerous consulting firms who can assist landlords in planning a strategic utility cost reduction and Eskom itself is very willing to engage with landlords to educate them on how to reduce their expenses and their impact on the main power grid. “However, the ‘greenness’ of your property is reliant on the buy-in of tenants and landlords would be well advised to implement green leases with their tenants,” Mr Edwards says. It provides a platform for sharing the benefits of the

enhanced performance of the building and balancing the respective costs between each party. A green lease ensures that a building is operated in a sustainable way. “There are many things that can be done to make a building more appealing and competitive within the market, “ Mr Edwards says. “It means that when the market does turn, landlords will be in the perfect position to not only attract and secure tenants but to also demand higher rentals.”

Construction group increasingly looking at foreign opportunities South African construction company Stefanutti Stocks is seeking to grow its activities outside the country owing to inadequate growth opportunities in the local market. “There are not many large projects on the [South African] market. “Those projects just aren’t around anymore,” asserts company CEO Willie Meyburgh. “That is why we are looking at opportunities outside our country. We have no option.” In the six months ending August 31 this year, work outside South Africa accounted for 23% of the group’s turnover and for 26% of its operating profit. Stefanutti Stocks currently comprises four main business units – structures; roads, pipelines and mining services (RPM); mechanical, electrical and power (MEP) and Page 25 |


Investec Property Fund’s distribution up 7.1% Investec Property Fund (IPF) on Thursday reported a 7.1% hike in its distribution per linked united for the six months ended September to 46.83 cents from the previous corresponding period’s 43.73 cents.

building. (There is also a small Middle East unit.) While, at one extreme, the MEP unit gained none of its turnover from outside South Africa, at the other extreme, the RPM unit gained 36% of its turnover from abroad. Almost all the work done outside this country is for the private sector. Within the country, 31% of the group’s turnover comes from the public sector, with most of this coming from Stateowned companies. “Public-sector (national government) work currently isn’t available,” he reports. “We don’t do work for municipalities – they don’t pay. “Provinces pay, but always late. State-owned enterprises are well managed and pay [promptly].” The company is looking forward to national electricity utility Eskom’s roll-out of transmission and distribution lines, which should start in March next year. “That’s quite a big market,” affirms Meyburgh. “We believe we’re well positioned to benefit from this work.” The group set up an oil and gas division in June and this has already won its first contract – from Sasol. The new division will be close to break-even at the end of its first year. The plan is that the oil and gas division will enable the group to gain work in the expanding hydrocarbons sector in Mozambique. “We’re putting a lot of hope on the proposed gas expansion in Mozambique,” he says. “This is long-term.” “The disappointment for us was the building division,” he explains, “predominantly in Mozambique, where there were projects taken on with very competitive margins, where there were cost overruns.” It is possible that some of these costs might be recovered. In addition, and also in Mozambique, a debt of a little more than R10-million had to be written off. However, the group believes that the building division will return to profit during the next six months. | Page 26

“This has been achieved‚ despite a tough economic and operating environment‚ through strong focus on tenant retention‚ renewals of lease expiries‚ marketing of vacant space and the addition of yield-enhancing properties to the portfolio‚“ the company said. Headline earnings per share for the period was 0.03 cents unchanged from the previous period. “The financial results include the impact of a cash drag resulting from delays in the timing of property transfers‚ caused primarily by delays in obtaining municipal clearances and other statutory requirements‚ which are out of the control of the fund‚“ it said. Revenue grew to R142m from the R106m reported in the previous period‚ with an 11.8% increase in its property portfolio. At the end of September it reported a 3.3% vacancy level at its 34 properties around the country‚ a slight increase from the 2.7% recorded at the end of March. “The decline relates mainly to one office tenant vacating the Business Connexion building‚“ it said. IPF believes its financial performance in the remainder of the financial year will be in line with its performance in the first half and that its acquisitions during the first part of the year would start to reap benefits.


Growthpoint set to drop deposits Growthpoint Properties is set to release about R350 million in lease deposits it currently holds over the next five years in what it claims is a groundbreaking move in the global commercial property market.

But he said the firm was offering tenants the option to waive this security deposit in favour of a non-refundable fee of between 10 percent and 25 percent of the deposit amount charged, based on the risk profile of each business.

This follows the listed property company introducing a new deposit-free lease, which means businesses would no longer face the burden of large security deposits when renewing or signing new commercial property leases.

Growthpoint would pool the fees to create a property reinstatement fund and assume the total risk for this security.

Norbert Sasse, Growthpoint’s chief executive, said that the new “undeposit” was developed over a three-year period and created a “win-win” for Growthpoint’s clients and its investors. Sasse said Growthpoint was the first publicly traded property company in South Africa, possibly the world, to offer this deposit-free lease, which was based on the excellent creditworthiness of its clients. He added that the traditional deposit for commercial property worldwide equalled three months rental for premises and associated space, such as parking.

As leases were renewed and new leases signed, Growthpoint’s property reinstatement fund would grow, offsetting any risks introduced, he said. He said most of Growthpoint’s leases were for five years, which meant the fund would be well established by 2018. He said it would make moving into new premises attractively cheaper for firms leasing with Growthpoint for the first time while it meant a cash flow injection for businesses occupying Growthpoint’s buildings for qualifying clients at lease renewal.

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Soothing Bedroom Paint Ideas Nowadays everything seems to be changing rather quickly, but it is quite reassuring that house interior décor trends move perhaps slightly more leisurely. Choosing the most appropriate paint colours for your home interior isn’t an easy task and certainly something that after all it’s a matter of personal taste. A new colour scheme with some accessories can really transform your bedroom into a personal heaven, giving it a totally different look. Colour has the power to evoke mood – the secret to making a gorgeous room is to make reliable colour choices with the latest bedroom paint ideas that complement perfectly each other. Luckily, these days when it comes to painting ideas for bedrooms, pretty much anything goes in case you don’t want to go for a certain scheme. If you want to achieve a specific style, then you need to think carefully about your colour selection and indeed the brand of paint. Here, we share with you two awesome colour schemes to get inspired from and make ordinary bedrooms more exciting. Be confident and pick the following modern bedroom colours to create an inviting retreat. You don’t have to live by the sea to obtain a coastal look for your bedroom that whispers “summer” all year round. If you want a bedroom that is colourful, but in the same time remaining calm and soothing, than a coastal scheme would be a perfect choice to achieve such a relaxing retreat. Fresh, | Page 28

contemporary and ground with natural materials a coastal look has something that appeals to all of us. The right combinations of tranquil seashore-inspired colours, organic textures, mix of furniture styles and playful accents will add interest as well as a casual feel to the room. Marine blue-green tones, cheerful sunny yellow, sandy tones, coral, crisp white and warm greys compose the colour scheme for this light and breezy style. Pure white is the hallmark colour of coastal interiors because it spreads and amplifies light, which is another notable style secret, but most overlooked. Abundant light is necessary to get that airy space. For instance, this refreshing soft colour palette of sand and the sea is perfect for small bedrooms because they visually enlarge them. Moreover, the feeling of a larger space if you have a low ceiling can be created by painting it with a soft blue.

“...the secret to making a gorgeous room is to make reliable colour choices with the latest bedroom paint ideas that complement perfectly each other.” To achieve a tropical look for your bedroom interior means going back to nature – such as the jungle or islands. If you love the inviting feel of escaping reality for a warm and restful visit to the Bahamas or the Caribbean, a tropicalstyle bedroom is for you. It feels like a permanent vacation, and it’s all about ease and comfort, and just like the coastal


style, it creates a relaxing and serene ambiance, similar to what you might find at your favourite island resort. The emphasis on natural textures, dark and exotic woods, basket-inspired accessories, gauzy fabrics, tropical plants, bold patterns with lots of contrast, punchy florals and lots of fresh green hues exude warm and graciousness. For walls, the colour palette can start from shades of cream, beige, warm neutrals to bright soothing blue and amazon green

tones, flamingo, pineapple yellow that pay tribute to the home’s stunning surroundings. Paint three walls with just one of the colours and make the fourth wall an accent wall with a bright hue. This is sure to make a statement and your room will rival any luxury tropical retreat.

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Dream Homes Built for Books and the Nerds Who Love Them We feature photos of the bibliofiend’s fantasy palace, along with other amazing houses that take bookcases to the extreme. The designers of these abodes honored the owners’ love of literature by making each home’s central concept and prominent architectural component a huge, built-in library. Several of these bookcases take over the entire house. Are you swooning yet?

Above: Most apartment dwellers dream of having built-in bookcases to save space. This contemporary pad in Brazil designed by Triptyque Studio features an incredible, large-scale, wraparound bookcase as the apartment’s focal point. It can be accessed from all sides, with shelving top to bottom, and the interior hides other rooms.

Travis Price Architects created this “hovering” bookcase, built into a dome over a writing studio. The homeowner wanted a space that encompassed his interests (he’s an anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author, and photographer) and would provide an atmospheric experience for guests. The books are accessed by ladder. The architects dubbed this their version of the oracle’s temple at Delphi, but the homeowner calls it his “Navajo kiva of knowledge.” | Page 30

DECOR Part of this Australian home was designed around its pitched bookcase, which follows the roofline.

This “vertical loft” was part of a historical restoration project in Rotterdam, designed by Dutch architectural firm, Shift. A three-story bookcase replaced one of the main structural walls in the home, stretching to every floor. The adjacent staircase provides easy access to the large collection. It’s a good thing we don’t live here, since we’d probably never leave the house.

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Above: The creators of this enormous, book-lined staircase from Levitate Architects had this to say about the stunning loft-library apartment design: “Our proposal extended the flat into the unused loft space above, creating a new bedroom level and increasing the floor area of the flat by approximately one third. We created a ‘secret’ staircase, hidden from the main reception room, to access a new loft bedroom lit by roof lights. Limited by space, we melded the idea of a staircase with our client’s desire for a library to form a ‘library staircase’ in which English oak stair treads and shelves are both completely lined with books. With a skylight above lighting the staircase, it becomes the perfect place to stop and browse a tome. The stair structure was designed as an upside down ‘sedan chair’ structure (with Rodrigues Associates, Structural Engineers, London) that carries the whole weight of the stair and books back to the main structural walls of the building. It dangles from the upper floor thereby avoiding any complicated neighbour issues with the floors below.”

The home pictured on the left was designed by Dutch firm EventArchitectuur. The company takes an artistic approach to their creative bookcases by inventing elaborate spaces that cover interior walls from room to room. Various shapes and sizes are intermingled for unique architectural interest. | Page 32

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Designmind Edition 5  

The fifth edition of Designmind, the curated magazine on the architecture and design industry in South Africa More

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