The project entailed the building of a new four-storey commercial office block in Nieuw-Muckleneuk for developers, Duncharl Investments, a client for which J.C. van der Linde & Venter Projects had frequently worked for in the past. The Tram Street building provides floor space of about 1 200sqm on a stand of 1 276sqm – indicative of how densely built-up the precinct has become.
Stefan van Wyk, Contracts Director at MBA North member, J.C. van der Linde & Venter Projects, says the main challenge that faced the building contractors was extremely restricted access to the site in Tram Street. “Access was so limited we had to make use of a self-erecting tower crane. Such a self-erecting crane ‘folds up’ upon itself in sections when being prepared for transport. We were able to overcome the limited access to site by bringing this folded up crane on to the building site and then erecting it there for our construction work,” van Wyk explained.
Among the other challenges J.C. van der Linde & Venter Projects faced for this contract included poor soil conditons which called for the provision of piles at an average depth of 7 metres to provide suitable foundation for the column footings. The architects, Jeremie Malan Architects, specified state-of-the-art stoneware tiles, the Agrob Buchtal Plural Plus range, which had to be imported from Germany which meant that importation schedules had to accurately match construction requirements to avoid disruptions in building work.
Van Wyk adds: “Our construction programme also had to be carefully co-ordinated to allow for the installation of a lift in the four-storey structure. As the new office block is adjacent to a residential area, noisy construction activities after 5pm were totally prohibited and we had to ensure that maximum productivity was achieved during office hours. We nevertheless managed to meet schedules so efficiently that the client also engaged us to handle the shopfitting of the various floors as these were rented out – an aspect not in the original contract. Despite the extra work, we completed the contract in eight months, just one month more than stipulated in the original contract.” A total of 720 cubic metres of concrete at a strength of 30MPa was used with Class 1 formwork to ensure superior surface finishes.
Jeremie Malan Architects in Pretoria won the Pretoria Institute of Architecture’s “2015 Award for Commercial and Branding” for 273 Tram Street. Malan says achieving maximum rentable building area on a small site was a major design challenge. “Our design solution is a compact plan form with vertical extension up to the limit of height restrictions. The main building mass is elevated off ground level by columns to create space for parking underneath the building without the need for a basement. The concrete columns are expressed as vertical fins on the elevations with a fair-face finish.”
Malan says a stand-out feature on the elevations is the vertically emphasised glazed staircase and concrete lift shaft which forms the services core of the building. The vertical core effectively links the ground floor parking level with three storeys of offices and the roof space above to which all the tenants have access for relaxation and informal office functions. “Each floor has lettable office space on either side of the core. This configuration allows for tenant flexibility, as the two office areas per floor can function separately or as one. The basic open plan office areas received internal layouts in drywalling to suit tenant requirements.” Because space for soft landscaping on ground level is limited, custom designed irrigated planter boxes were spaced over the north and south elevations.
Malan says the in-situ concrete columns and flat floor slabs without beams inside the office ceiling voids, leave optimum space for services reticulation. Galvanised steel members span between the concrete fins to support window shading panels and planter boxes.
“To minimise the cost and size of the structural concrete elements, a lightweight external walling system was employed. It consists of pre-coloured steel sheeting to the outside, insulation in the middle and drywall boards on the inside: all fixed to lightweight steel studs fixed between the floor slabs. Window opening widths of over 5 metres are achieved without heavy concrete or steel lintels. Flashing details around windows and joints are meticulously detailed. The drywall system helped to speed up construction by J.C. van der Linde & Venter Projects and avoided the complications of wet trades at heights,” Malan stated.
The bulk of office windows are orientated north or south and are sheltered by expansive aluminium filigree shading panels. Openings on east or west facades are minimal and fully protected by the aluminium filigree panels over their full aperture.
“In the interests of further sustainability, energy- efficient fluorescent and LED lights are used with movement sensors to control the lights to further reduce energy use. The large, shaded glazed areas provide natural light to supplement electric light. Dual flush concealed cisterns and waterless urinals reduce water use, and rainwater is collected into roof tanks for irrigation of the planters on the building.”
Malan concludes: “The use of fair face concrete, face brick, galvanised steel and pre-coloured sheeting makes for durable, low-maintenance external finishes. External plaster and paint is limited to a feature wall at ground level. The building is designed to withstand the local climate and age gracefully with the minimum of maintenance costs.
“The role of the contractors, J.C. van der Linde & Venter Projects, in the completion of a dream project must be mentioned. The buildlers met the high quality requirements despite limited time and site space and were part of the professional team from the outset to final completion,” he added.
LOCATION: Pretoria, South Africa
CLIENT: Duncharl Investments;
MAIN CONTRACTORS: J.C. van der Linde & Venter Projects, represented by Stefan van Wyk (Contracts Director), Ivan Fick (Site Agent), and Elliot Tsotsetsi (Foreman);
ARCHITECTS: Jeremie Malan Architects;
CONSULTING/STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS: Otec;
QUANTITY SURVEYORS: Taljaard QS
ELECTRICAL ENGINEERS: C.A. du Toit