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Vol. 2 - November 6th, 2012




Too easy to be green? 13,500 U.S. buildings certified LEED


Alternative ways to finance commercial property

16 Billion Group to break ground on R3 billion Retail Developments


Reducing buildings energy consumption pays off


Absa: fewer building plans approved


‘State being tardy on tenders’


WORKac to design new Assembly Hall in Central Africa

10 Lebbeus Woods, Architect Who Bucked Convention, Dies at 72 11 Finalists announced for Japan’s New National Stadium

17 Ghana’s property market outlook upbeat 18 Meadowview Business Park West opens for development LANDSCAPE 19 Organic Insulation – Going Back to Green Basics 20 Unused Laneways Ideal for Urban Gardens DECOR 21 2012 Kitchen Trends Recap 22 How to bring colour into your home


Too easy to be green? 13,500 U.S. buildings certified LEED

The Palazzo Hotel and Casino boasts many features of Las Vegas excess — an indoor waterfall, a smoke-filled gaming area, seven decorative fountains and guest suites with three TVs and power-controlled curtains.

Yet, the 50-story complex achieved an unlikely and lucrative milestone after opening in 2008: A powerful private organization declared it an environmentally friendly “green” building, the world’s largest at the time. The designation won owner Las Vegas Sands Corp. a $27 million tax break over 10 years because a Nevada law puts the private group — not the government — in charge of deciding which buildings are green enough for a taxpayer subsidy. The U.S. Green Building Council, a building industry nonprofit, credited the Palazzo for having bike racks in the garage; room cards telling guests when towels are replaced; landscaping that does not use grass, which local law prohibits anyway; and preferred parking for fuel-efficient cars — spots that on a recent week were occupied by Ford Expeditions, Chevy Tahoes, vans, sports cars and a Hummer. Across the United States, the Green Building Council in Washington, D.C., has helped thousands of developers win tax breaks and grants, charge higher rents, exceed local building restrictions and get expedited permitting by certifying them as “green” under a system that often rewards minor, low-cost steps that have little or no proven environmental benefit, a USA

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Today analysis has found. The council has certified 13,500 commercial buildings in the U.S. as green and become one of the most influential forces in building design by helping persuade public officials and private builders to follow its rating system, known as LEED. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, awards buildings points for features that aim to minimize emissions, water use, waste and indoor pollutants. A new commercial building needs 40 out of a possible 100 points for certification. A USA Today review of 7,100 LEED-certified commercial buildings shows designers often target the easiest and cheapest green points by trying to create pleasant and healthful office spaces, using common building materials or taking steps with an unknown effect — such as providing preferred parking for fuelefficient cars, bike racks and showers — and posting educational displays. Most design teams have won a point each for including someone who has passed a LEED exam. Thousands more have won points for giving office workers

their own light switches, views of the outdoors or temperature-control mechanisms, which can include operable windows or desk fans. More than 6,000 buildings got credit for using structural steel or concrete, common building materials that the council considers green because they are made from recycled material. LEED’s growth has been driven partly by the building council itself, a 13,000-member nonprofit chiefly run by architects, builders and building suppliers. Many specialize in — and profit from — the type of design the council certifies and promotes. The council collects up to $35,000 in fees for each LEED certification. But LEED does not require designers to take specific steps beyond meeting minimum standards in water and energy conservation, recycling and indoor air quality. Designers chart their own courses, choosing from roughly 50 options that range from minimizing light pollution and storm water runoff to maximizing interior daylight and ventilation. More options bring higher certification levels — from silver to gold to platinum — and sometimes bigger tax benefits. The most popular LEED option — earned in 99.7 percent of the buildings — has no direct environmental benefit but generates millions of dollars for the building council by giving one point if a design team has a LEED expert. People become experts by passing a LEED course and paying $550 to $800 to a nonprofit that the building council created in 2007. The building council gets 5 percent of those fees — $3.3 million from 2008 through 2010, council tax records show. In 2009, responding to criticism, the building council revised LEED to put more emphasis on energy conservation. But the revision highlights a central problem: LEED certification is awarded before occupancy. Points for minimiz-

The Christman Co.’s headquarters in Lansing is LEED certified. The company saves $50,000 to $55,000 each year in energy use, officials said.

ing energy and water use are based on projections, not on actual energy and water use. Designers can earn up to 19 points for projecting lowerthan-average energy use. The projections come from computer models that analyze hundreds of features. Such models are good at comparing designs to show which would use less energy. But they are bad at quantifying actual energy use, which depends largely on how a building is used and maintained. A new version of LEED, likely to become mandatory in mid-2015, will require building operators to write a plan for running a building efficiently and to tell the council a building’s energy and water use for five years. sey=mod|newswell|text||p

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Alternative ways to finance commercial property

Although there is a general interest throughout South Africa in investing in commercial property, it is also true that a high proportion of those wanting to do this are deterred from doing so because they cannot get bank finance, says Jason Lee, national head of Rawson Commercial. “Quite frequently we come across cases where a potential investor has gone about things the wrong way. Having decided to invest in commercial property, he has travelled around until he has found a property, which he regards as suitable. He then makes an offer, subject to getting a bond for which, usually 20 to 30 days are allowed. During that time he rushes desperately from bank to bank, but all too often fails to get their backing - and then has to opt out of the deal.” What many such potential investors do not realise, is that there are alternative ways of financing a commercial property and these have proved effective throughout most of the developed world. In times like the present there will be many sellers who, because they are in financial difficulties, are prepared to consider entering into an installment sale agreement with the buyer. Such deals enable them to dispose of a property that might otherwise not find a buyer in today’s market. Although they do not get an upfront all-inone payment for it, they do receive satisfactory monthly installment payments over a specified period. There are three ways in which such deals are usually put through. “The Alienation of Land Act allows sellers and buyers to draw up an agreement in which the buyer is required to pay in at least two or more installments over a period of one year or more. If they comply with certain minimum statutory requirements, the parties can structure the payment of the purchase price anyway they want and over almost any period,” Lee says. “This method of payment is well suited to deals where a broker is involved because in most cases the deposit, which is payable upfront, is sufficient to cover the broker’s commission. Such deals are also well suited to those buyers who, although they may have blemished credit records, now have a healthy cash flow. “From the seller’s viewpoint, the arrangement is beneficial because the eventual sales price has been agreed upfront and because the monthly repayments are in most cases usually set at a level that will adequately cover the bond repayments - and the seller’s monthly outlays are diminished because the purchaser takes on responsibility for the rates and tax payments.” | Page 4

Furthermore, although transfer is delayed until the final payment is made, the seller knows that the property will be well cared for because the current occupant knows that one day it will be his. A further advantage of this type of deal is that, as the agreement is registered against the title deed, the seller cannot sell the property or take on another bond without the buyer’s consent and the current bondholder is required to issue a certificate confirming the amount still to be paid on discharging the bond. In this type of arrangement transfer duty must be paid by the buyer within six months of the signing. If this is not done, SARS will add 10% per annum to any outstanding amounts. If the buyer defaults on his payments, the arrangement works by-and-large to the seller’s advantage because in South African law, non-payment even over a short a period, automatically results in ownership of the property again reverting wholly to the seller, who then has the right to evict the defaulting buyer. In these cases, an opportunity arises for an independent investor to act as the banker. This means that he will buy the property from the seller and then will raise a bond on the property. He then enters into an installment payment agreement with the buyer, the interest on the monthly installments usually being between 2% and 3% higher than the interest on the bond repayments. A third option open to investors is to enter into a rent-to-buy arrangement. This usually runs from 24 to 36 months, at the end of which the buyer has the option of buying the property at a pre-agreed price. Again the purchaser is responsible for rates, taxes and maintenance during the renting period. In most agreements of this kind, the seller also allows a specific percentage of the monthly payments to count towards the building up of a substantial deposit on the sale, thereby enabling the buyer to take out a smaller bond - for which he will probably now qualify. In these deals, transfer duty is not paid until the property is actually sold. Lee says that although the alternatives all have merit and have saved many a deal, financing a bond through a bank is still the cheapest and most hassle free way of buying a property other than paying for it in cash, provided the buyer can meet the banks credit requirements.

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BUILDING of Eskom’s rebate policy to recover a great deal of the capital cost of the exercise as well.” “These measures, along with the awareness and assistance from the various role players in the building, have led to significant reductions in both energy consumption and cost. Further savings are achieved by the installation of timers and sensors thereby utilising equipment only when required.”

Reducing buildings energy consumption pays off Reducing the energy consumption of a building takes a concerted combined effort from the property owners, managers, tenants and staff - but is a very worthwhile exercise, both from a financial and an environmental point of view. This is according to Martin Bester, Managing Director of Intersect Sectional Title Services, the sectional title specialist subsidiary of the Spire Property Group, who manage the Icon Building on the Foreshore in Cape Town. “The Icon is a 19 storey building that used to be a high consumer of energy. So much so that we were concerned and adamant that things had to change,” says Bester. “We started by tracking the consumption of the building at various stages over a period of time and compared this to the municipal invoices and meter reading statistics. This then presented us with a benchmark and allowed us to calculate what we would like to achieve in energy reduction.” “Once we ascertained our goal, we then set about specifically identifying the energy intensive equipment in the building and sought ways to reduce their consumption. This led to replacing over 600 T8 fluorescent light fittings with the smaller and more energy efficient T5 fittings and converting 1100 down lighters to LED alternatives.” According to Bester, the next step was the installation of CO2 sensors in the basement parking levels, which reduced the usage of the extraction fans from 24/7 to ‘as required’ – this resulted in a massive decrease in the energy consumption of the building. “We were also able to take advantage | Page 6

“These savings are perpetual, and in the face of ever increasing energy costs are a welcome reprieve for the owners of the Icon building. Intersect are pleased and proud to have helped with, and to be associated with, this important exercise in ‘green’ retrofitting,” concluded Bester. property-management/5365-reducing-buildings-energy-consumption-pays-off.html

Absa: fewer building plans approved Fewer residential building plans were approved for the first eight months of this year compared to last year, according to Absa’s latest residential building statistics. “Residential building activity in respect of the planning phase of new housing in South Africa contracted further in August 2012,” Absa Home Loans property analyst Jacques du Toit said in a statement. Year-on-year growth in the volume of new housing units for which building plans were approved was down by 5607 units - or 32 percent - to 11,841 units in the period from June to August this year. This contributed to a contraction of 16 percent year-onyear in the first eight months of the year. However, the construction phase improved compared with a year ago. Du Toit said the improvement in activity in the construction phase was probably due to increased growth in plans approved towards the end of 2011 and early this year. Planning activity slowed sharply in the smaller-sized houses, flats and townhouses segments.

BUILDING “Although these categories of housing are popular from an affordability perspective, the latest trends might be a reflection of recent and expected developments regarding household finances and investor demand for buy-to-let properties,” said Du Toit. The improvement in building activity, on the other hand, was largely driven by the flats and townhouse segment, which recorded growth of almost 29 percent year-on-year in the eight-month period. “However, planning activity in this category of housing is on a declining trend since early this year, which may cause a lower level of activity in the construction phase during 2013.” Du Toit said activity was subdued in the first eight months of 2012 when it came to alterations and renovations to existing houses. This was a reflection of the financial position of homeowners. Du Toit expected residential building activity to remain relatively subdued over the next 12 to 18 months.

these are not sufficient for a construction industry under pressure. Engineering and construction group Murray & Roberts said that, while it remained well positioned to participate in any projects that came to market, “at this stage, tender documents for major infrastructure projects have not yet been issued by government”. “A major and growing infrastructural backlog exists in SA,” the company said in its update. “At a recent Presidential Infrastructure Investment conference, President Jacob Zuma said South Africa would spend as much as R4-trillion on infrastructure development projects over the next 15 years, and about R844bn over the next three years.” The firm said it was experiencing “difficult market conditions and pressure on margins”.

‘State being tardy on tenders’ Murray & Roberts came out last week saying that, despite the government’s announcement that it planned to spend R4-trillion on infrastructure over the next 15 years, not a single tender has been issued for a major infrastructure project. There was big state investment in fixed capital for the Soccer World Cup two years ago, but since then the government has been slow to issue new tenders and has been tardy in paying for work done. National Planning Commission data shows a 30% fall in public sector spending since 2008. Some state-owned enterprises, including Eskom and Transnet, have brought projects to the market since 2008, but

First National Bank chief economist Cees Bruggemans was reported to say that the private sector had the capacity to deliver the much-needed projects, while the “public sector does not”. AfriFocus Securities construction analyst Hugan Chetty said that the lowering of South Africa’s sovereign credit rating posed a big challenge for the government’s planned infrastructure funding, which would spill over to its entities such as Transnet and the South African National Roads Agency, which were seeking to raise capital internationally. “The government needs to start pushing at least some projects such as roads, rail and water on stream because this uncertainty is likely to bring forth more infrastructural problems - The government needs to start putting projects on the market because the construction industry is banking on them for job creation.” Mr Chetty said Page 7 |


WORKac to design new Assembly Hall in Central Africa WORK Architecture Company (WORKac) has won an international competition to design new Assembly Hall in Libreville – the capital city of Gabon – for the 2014 Summit of the African Union. The New York City firm impressed the jury with their proposal L’Assemblée Radieuse, which offers a self-shading, circular structure that maximizes active and passive design while incorporating the vibrant ecology of the Gabonese Republic. L’Assemblée Radieuse organizes a vast program of conference, assembly and dining facilities around three carved courtyards – each representing one of Gabon’s rich and diverse ecosystems. The circular form is topped with a dramatically sloped roof, which emerges from the lush, green hills of the surrounding diplomatic quarter: the newly reconceived Cité De La Démocratie. This angled roof becomes one of the building’s most prominent façades, allowing views up from the city, below to the courtyard-gardens, and towards the rooftop reflecting pool – taking the elliptical form of the auditorium below. The new building, conceived around the preservation and reuse of structural elements from an earlier conference center on the site, will harness the best in active and passive sustainable design. Louvers made of African Limestone shade the entire building and wrap the structure, arcing to create a contoured vertical landscape for the courtyards. These courtyards allow for natural ventilation, cooling, and smoke exhaust. The sloped rooftop collects rainwater to become a waterfall before being recycled throughout the building; its light color reflects heat. The 1000-seat auditorium is designed to divide easily into two separate spaces, with each potential configuration retaining optimal sightlines and state-of-the-art acoustics. Additional key spaces arranged around the central auditorium include a triple-height banquet hall along with a number of smaller auditoria and meeting rooms. Circulation within L’Assemblée Radieuse is organized by the garden courtyards, which are linked by a semi-enclosed, shaded “philosopher’s path.” This continuous promenade provides flexible and informal meeting spaces for walking, thinking and discussing the urgent matters of the day, while connecting the three gardens and providing striking views over the Cité De La Démocratie, the capital Libreville, as well as of the landscape and sea beyond.

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Lebbeus Woods, Architect Who Bucked Convention, Dies at 72

scratchings on the surface of the earth compared to the earth itself,” Mr. Woods said of his Manhattan drawing in an interview several years ago with the architectural Web site Building Blog. “I think that comes across in the drawing. It’s not geologically correct, I’m sure, but the idea is there.”

Lebbeus Woods, an architect whose works were rarely built but who influenced colleagues and students with defiantly imaginative drawings and installations that questioned convention and commercialism, died on last Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 72.

Mr. Woods’s work was often described as fantasy and compared to science-fiction imagery. But he made clear that while he may not have expected his designs to be built, he wished they would be — and believed they could be.

In an era when many architecture stars earned healthy commissions designing high-rise condominiums or corporate headquarters, Mr. Woods conceived of a radically different environment, one intended for a world in conflict. He conceived a post-earthquake San Francisco that emphasized its seismic vulnerability. He flew to Sarajevo in the 1990s and proposed a postwar city in which destruction and resurgence coexisted. He imagined a future for Lower Manhattan in which dams would hold back the Hudson and East Rivers to create a vast gorge around the island, exposing its rock foundation. “It’s about the relationship of the relatively small human

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Mr. Woods often criticized what he saw as a complacent and distracted status quo in his field. But his colleagues said his commitment to creating an alternative showed that he had hope. “If he really felt as cynical and skeptical as he sometimes would say, then why the hell draw this stuff?” Eric Owen Moss, an architect and longtime friend, said in an interview. “There’s an incredible amount of power just in the draftsmanship. He’s like Durer — you know, woodcuts, 15th-century stuff. There’s content — intellectual content, social content, artistic content, political content — but the very act of making these sort of remarkable things and his drawing capacity made a kind of new language.”


Finalists announced for Japan’s New National Stadium Tadao Ando and the Japan Sport Council (JSC) have announced the eleven finalists who will compete in the final round of the international competition for the New National Stadium Japan. With the reconstruction, the National Stadium hopes to attract world-class events with the world’s largest spectator capacity and the world’s finest hospitality. The new stadium is already committed to hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup and is slated for competition in 2018. Tadao Ando describes: “Our wish is to see a stadium designed by someone who shares this earth, with wisdom and technology that looks to the future of out planet.” The images on these pages are of the finalists. A winner is expected to be announced in mid-November.

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This page: Top: Mitsuru Man Senda and Environment Design Institute Entry No.37 Middle: Azusa Sekkei Co., Ltd. Entry No. 32 Bottom: Zaha Hadid Architects Entry No.17

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Prevoius page: Top: gmp.International GmbH Entry No.35 Bottom: Zaha Hadid Architects Entry No.17 This page: Top: UNStudio / Yamashita Sekkei Inc. Entry No.12 Middle: Cox Architecture pty LTD Entry No.2 Bottom: Dorell.Ghotmeh.Tane / Architects & A+Architecture Entry No.26

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Billion Group to break ground on R3 billion Retail Developments Billion Group, a 100% black-owned property development and investment company, has broken ground on two retail developments totalling more than R3 billion. Forest Hill City in Monavoni, Centurion south west of Pretoria and Bay West City in Port Elizabeth promises to be dominant, lifestyle destinations where shoppers will find an optimal mix of the latest in local and international retail brands as well as a diverse and exciting leisure offering. The developer’s enviable track record includes the Eastern Cape’s landmark Hemingways Mall in East London and Mdantsane City, which opened for trade in 2009 and 2008 respectively. Bay West City – a joint venture development with Abacus - is poised to become Port Elizabeth’s premier upmarket lifestyle and entertainment destination. The R1,75 billion first phase construction of this major mixed use development will ultimately form part of a modern, integrated urban node with green spaces, residential and commercial units in a prime location. Located only 10km from the Port Elizabeth CBD and airport, the 310 hectare development site is ideally positioned on the N2 highway, with two additional interchanges planned, in order to attract as high a footfall as possible. Infrastructure funding is being provided by the DBSA and SANRAL. | Page 16

At 86 000m2 Bay West Mall’s easy accessibility, landscape design and array of major retailers is likely to make it an unmatched shopping experience for the existing and planned households totalling almost 70 000 in the primary catchment area. The bulk of these households will be in the high LSM 8-10 categories. Billion’s second development, Forest Hill City is located on a 66 hectare, highly visible site above the N14 KrugersdorpPretoria highway (the key connecting route between Midrand, Centurion, Sandton, Johannesburg, Krugersdorp and Pretoria) and is well positioned to service the current 112 500 households in the primary catchment area. This is one of South Africa’s fastest developing nodes which is set to grow to almost 160 000 households by 2014. Independent research has indicated that this is a significantly underserved node with the current retail under supply estimated at 255 000m2 in the catchment area. Forest Hill City will comprise a total gross lettable area (GLA) of 68 000m2 and will offer a lifestyle destination where consumers will live, work and play within the same precinct. It will combine fashionable retail space with dining, state of the art offices, hotels, showrooms and lifestyle residences. property-construction-development/5364-billion-group-to-breakground-on-r3-billion-retail-developments.html


Ghana’s property market outlook upbeat In 2011, Ghana was at the top of the world economic growth charts with a whopping 14.4 percent, boosted by new oil production and helped by the construction sector. Those dizzy heights of doubledigit growth may be a one-off, with oil production reaching a plateau in 2012, but Ghana is expected to still achieve around 7.5 percent in 2012 and again in 2013. Comments William Bobie, executive director, Assenta Real Estate Investment Managers: “According to a World Bank classification, on 1 July 2011 Ghana moved from a lowincome to lower middle-income status. A gross national income of $1 571 was achieved in 2011, up 44 percent from 2009 levels per a Ghana Statistical survey. The new phenomenon of a middle class, plus the country’s reputation for political and economic stability and cultural tolerance has rapidly revolutionised the retail property market in recent years. He says A&C Square in 2005, followed by Accra Mall in 2007, set the pace for modern retailing. A&C Square in the East Legon area of Accra is largely a neighbourhood centre with a recent addition of substantial office space. Accra Mall changed the face of retail considerably with 21 000sqm of lettable area, anchored by Shoprite and Game. With Accra Mall and A&C being the only formal retail centres available in the market, occupancy rates are near 100 percent. Movenpick Hotel’s 2 000 sqm retail space offering 26 shop units is also fully occupied by a variety of boutique shops while Shoprite’s solus unit on the western

corridor of Accra is also self-occupied with no available space to let. Says Bobie: “Although there is a high demand for retail space from both foreign and local occupiers, supply of space has been sluggish. With a growing population of 2.5 million plus in Accra, the city has capacity for more retail centres to augment the current 30 000sqm of formal retail space. Since the completion of Accra Mall in 2007, surprisingly no formal retail shopping mall has been built.” However, a number of small to medium schemes are under construction in Accra, including retail and office developments of Marina Mall, Nester Square, One Airport Square and Icon House in the Airport area; The Octagon in Ridge; plus the Oxford Street Mall and hotel development in Oxford Street, in Osu. Adds Menson: “Notable inclusions are Oxford Street Mall and Marina Mall, which are both expected to complete in the coming months, and One Airport Square, an ambitious green star compliant project that will set the bar for environmental standards. In addition, numerous pipeline projects are in the planning stages. These include some sizeable developments: West Hills, Project Sunrise and Gold Coast City in Accra; Apolonia in Tema; King City in Takoradi (all mixed-use developments); Accra Mall extension retail development in Accra. “South African retailers currently dominate the international retailers but there are clear signs that European and American retailers are also eyeing the market and with the right space we believe the market will become competitive and diverse in the very near future. Page 17 |


Meadowview Business Park West opens for development Property developer and investor Intaprop announced it is opening Meadowview Business Park West for development following its completion of the initial phase of the prime business estate, including the R575 million new head office for UTi Pharma. The 50-hectare estate lies adjacent to the N3 highway and R25 Modderfontein Road at the London Road interchange. It is centred between two of SA’s most successful commercial nodes, Longmeadow and Linbro Park, at the point of peak demand for logistics and warehousing premises in Gauteng. Intaprop director Hugo Stroud says: “Intaprop is developing Meadowview in phases on a demand-led basis. On completion, Meadowview will accommodate 250,000sqm of development, making it a high-profile commercial precinct in northern Johannesburg”. The newly opened Meadowview Business Park West has further development capacity of 30,000sqm. It is zoned for industrial warehousing and office uses, with opportunities for development customised to tenant requirements, ranging from 5,000sqm to 20,000sqm. It provides tailor-made amalgamations of offices, laboratories, and warehousing or | Page 18

logistics facilities for clients. Larger parcels of land are however available on request at Meadowview Business Park East, which is presently open to enquiries only. The East precinct will introduce a further 125,000sqm of developable bulk when it comes to market. Infrastructure for this precinct will commence in 2013. Direct pharmaceutical distributor UTi Pharma moved to its new head office and state-of-the-art warehouse in the fast-growing Meadowview Business Estate in Linbro Park, Johannesburg, in September 2012. Built to its exacting requirements, it is on 61,000sqm of land and includes 7,400sqm of offices and a 36,000sqm warehouse, all with exceptional security, emergency power and ample parking. With its prime location, Meadowview Business Park has attracted several leading companies to the landmark commercial park. These include Top Draw Investments a leading BEE investment enterprise, which owns Brittan Healthcare, and General Medical Supplies (GMS). Situated at the London Road interchange, adjacent to the N3 highway and R25 Modderfontein Road, it has excellent access to the N3 highway, Modderfontein Road, OR Tambo International Airport, Greenstone retail precinct and public transport including the Gautrain. It also has substantial highway frontage.


Organic Insulation – Going Back to Green Basics Though it may seem counter-intuitive, the evolution of the green building sector has actually entailed moving back to traditional, ancient and simple practices. In the first stages of the green building boom, a huge focus was placed on renewable energy and the opportunities this brought to buildings looking to maintain their level of energy use through a sustainable practice. This also had the upside of creating a ‘green aesthetic’ of sorts, which at the time meant visible solar panels or rooftop wind turbines. Green insulation is now spreading throughout the world, with landscape architects from all corners of the globe reveling in the newly extended realm.

peratures in summer and maintaining heat loads in winter. This often allows those who implement green roofs to go completely off-grid in terms of heating and cooling needs, which brings about drastic carbon and cost cutting. Aesthetically, green roofs are as variable and unique as any design construct. Decisions on design and the types of plants included are often left completely in the hands of the landscape architect and, generally speaking, buildings are given an aesthetic boost from their original form postimplementations. Green roofs also offer added community space, offering to nurture social activity and interaction in workplaces, community centres, residential buildings and other facilities. Green roofs are not a new concept but the industry’s understanding and acceptance of their dramatic impact and utility is growing. Covering the three tenets of holistically sustainable design in terms of their positive effects on the environment, society and economy, it is clear why their popularity is booming.

Green roofs are becoming more and more commonplace atop modern buildings. Now that the global industry is looking to evolve the industry into one that has far higher green standards – with net-zero carbon buildings becoming the green benchmark in many countries worldwide – this practice now has a chance to flourish. In terms of function, green roofs are the worlds only completely organic and sustainable live insulation systems. The greenery protects buildings from added solar gain by both shading and insulating it, drastically lowering internal temPage 19 |


Unused Laneways Ideal for Urban Gardens An urban backdrop brings with it extensive challenges for landscape architects. While such a backdrop allows them the opportunity to be creative, think outside the box and juxtapose the built and the organic to create a high-impact focus, there is no doubting the limitations it also creates. This is perhaps part of the reason why, when projects interlink both built and organic means, they are so widely recognised. Australian architect Andrew Burns’ recently-revealed works for a London public garden is a case in point. Undertaken as a part of the Cityscapes Festival, garden installations have been unveiled throughout London’s Southbank region, with Burns’ particular landscape plot positioned in a former bypass laneway known as Gibbon’s Rent. Working with landscape expert Sarah Eberle, Burns was able to transform the highly industrial space into a hidden belt that he hopes will promote community socialisation as much as it does environmental reclamation.

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“Andrew and Sarah’s design transforms the forgotten piece of public space into a sociable garden made up of a growing collection of potted plants and seating to allow people to sit down, relax and enjoy an oasis of calm just metres from the hustle and bustle of Tooley Street and London Bridge Station,” the jury said. Furthering this idea of bringing the social element into the garden space, both Burns and Eberle have adamantly encouraged local residents to add their own flavour to the garden. This in turn encourages both engagement with and the maintenance of the space. “We believe that our vision for Gibbon’s Rent will not only provide a strong identity for the site, but will also allow and in fact relies upon long-term community engagement with the space,” Burns said. Urban gardens do not need to be limited to sky gardens or apartment deckings. In reclaiming these underused industrial spaces, the true green, community potential of our cities can be unlocked.


2012 Kitchen Trends Recap There are times when we get stuck with ideas especially when we’re trying to complete a project. When it comes to kitchen design, the following ideas could help you make your mind up. Spice Up with LED Lighting An energy-efficient home is not a fad anymore but an ongoing trend not only locally but all across countries. I think the precipitating event is the current status of our economy and thinking about how energy-efficient your kitchen or home is neither a bad thing nor a sacrifice for style and design. Initially, you might think it is not worth it because of the high cost but LED lighting proves to be useful and energy-efficient as time goes by.

Get Bold with Dark Finishes

rial. Its use increased to more than 50% for only one year duration. Even though this is not considered essentially high, the use of other backsplash materials has significantly declined.

Cherry Wood Shifting Cherry wood has been one of the most popular woods used for cabinetry but recently designers have been shifting away from it hence the decline in percentage of its use. Instead, oak wood has been rising in popularity even though it has been considered as one of the lesser-used woods. So, let your imagination go wild and design your dream kitchen.

Kitchen designs today are getting bolder and purer. Many homeowners go either for pure white or darker finishes but the highest stat for homeowner’s choice is dark finishes, which is recently at 58%. This figure alone tells me that the ongoing trend is not focused on light or medium color finishes alone but also include the bolder dark finishes. This goes for kitchen surfaces and painted cabinetry. Dark finishes represent strength and elegance.

Fixture Trend with Pull-Out Faucets Pull-out faucets are now dominating the kitchens today and it has established itself only recently. This enabled the integration of two functions to a single unit. The pull-out faucets are clearly flexible when incorporated to any kitchen design. Recently, the use of these units has increased to more than 90%, which is particularly high especially with the production of versatile models.

Elegant Glass Backsplash Glass remained as a nice material for kitchen countertops but recently it has been used by designers as an elegant backsplash matePage 21 |


How to bring colour into your home The easiest and most effective way to create a mood in your home is by using colour – be it through paint, décor or accessories. Choosing colourful elements and combinations wisely means you will not have to spend a fortune to create a striking space. Follow these simple steps when using colours: • Take time to first plan your colour scheme (mistakes can be expensive and rectifying them can be even more time consuming); always arrange colours according to your personal preferences and if you’re in doubt get advice that you feel comfortable with; • Use repetition, for instance different shaped objects or vases grouped together in the same colour tones will immediately create interest; • Flowers are the simplest way to add colour to any room and an arrangement of striking orange Gerberas instantly brightens the setting. Vivid colours are rich and strong on their own. When you use them together they balance each other and, as a result, don’t appear as overpowering as one bright colour would on its own. Here, the green on the wall is countered by the orange chair – while the white skirting and paint canvas on the wall creates a resting point for the eye. Vibrant colours work best in a room that has the scope to take in a lot of colour; always take the changing daylight into account when going bold, as it could alter the effect quite radically. Always mix hard and soft shapes and surfaces when using strong colours, to prevent it dominating a room. Also limit the use of different patterns, textures and details as this will confuse and distract; rather opt for plain surfaces and textures (such as this ‘grass’ carpet) to retain the overall feel. Here, green is used as the base colour; it originates on the ‘cooler’ side of the colour wheel and is ideal to give a room a calm, refreshing feel. Energising orange as an accent colour adds warm tones and contrast while white, brought in by the skirting and this canvas on the wall, softens the focus and creates a resting point for the eyes. | Page 22

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Designmind Edition 2 - 6 November  

The second edition of the Designmind curated content magazine on the South African architecture and building industry

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