Awards of excellence, both past and future, are awarded to commercial and industrial industry leaders and project teams for their outstanding contributions both to the economy and local communities. Recognition for innovative excellence in real estate is also enhancing the country’s contribution to world-class development on the African continent.
Innovative professionals and students are required by the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) to recognise the practical implementation of business principles. One example being that greater cost and energy efficiency feeds overall sustainability through refurbishments, redevelopments and new projects throughout the different classes of real estate.
This approach, which is echoed throughout SAPOA’s philosophy, is awarded to those who meet stringent criteria in the different categories of SAPOA’s Awards for Excellence, including Innovation and Development, Transformation, Heritage, Overall Green, Other Development and Innovative Merit.
In the words of Pieter Engelbrecht in his capacity as Chairman of the judging committee and Director of Development at South Africa’s leading property owner, Growth Point Properties:
“Awards recognition is not based solely on architectural appeal, but rather on a holistic approach in that developments need to be economically viable, satisfy the needs of both the investor and user, be aesthetically appealing and enhance the locality in which they are situated.”
He says real estate development forms part of the engine of any free market-driven economy. “It creates wealth not only for the developer, but ultimately also for the country as a whole in that it creates employment, reinforces the tax base and provides the infrastructure in which the economy may grow and prosper.”
However, without the necessary grounding taught at the earliest stages of industry leaders acquiring their professional skills, such high levels of achievement would not be possible without the foundations of property development firmly rooted in the country’s academic institutions. This year’s awards saw two local universities complementing the impressive achievements of the private industry. The University of Cape Town (UCT) took top honours in the Other Developments category for its development of the New Engineering Building that was designed by SAOTA.
Professor Francis Petersen, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, says: “The completion of the New Engineering Building and the newly established laboratories with first-rate equipment gives us a wonderful platform to offer good technical education, perform world-class research and to innovate.” She says wide open spaces were designed in such a way that integration of postgraduate and undergraduate students and staff is maximised.
“This will ensure that this faculty of UCT continues to produce engineering graduates with a solid technical foundation, with an ability to be socially responsive and with a full appreciation for and understanding of safety, health and environment challenges in and around the workplace.”
The Engineering Faculty of the University of Pretoria (UP) took top honours in the Refurbishment category for optimum utilisation of space through refurbishment of existing buildings of the Mining Industry Study Centre in a centrally located, but defunct square in the engineering precinct. The building was designed by ARC Architects Pretoria to create an on-campus study and information centre.
Leading the way in outstanding property development is industry leader Growthpoint Properties, which through its massive contribution at all levels of the industry, continues to set the pace for excellence in sustainability, in particular of Green Building Council Green Star Rated developments. As the overall 2014 SAPOA award winner, Growthpoint’s No. 1 Silo at the V&A Waterfront scooped three top awards, including corporate office development and the overall green award.
The office sector in particular continues to provide a springboard for improved development and upgrading of associated services. Growthpoint Properties’ Office Division Director Rudolf Pienaar says quality space that incorporates green building provides sustainable alternatives. Benefits to building occupants include a stimulating working environment, while owners and tenants enjoy reduced utility costs.
A new developing office trend is to create Activity Workspace areas, where rotation of staff and standing workstations optimise both the utilisation of floor space and productivity levels.
However, Growthpoint Development Manager for Industrial Leon Labuschagne says non Green Star redevelopments within the industrial sector prove that redevelopment costs less than new developments, but can offer the same standards to achieve lower rentals, without sacrificing quality.
Redevelopment in older industrial areas is a trend throughout South Africa, as seen at Growthpoint’s development of Ellerines’ high-tech facility in Port Elizabeth. As winner of the Industrial Developments category, this project proves the benefits of tailor-made client solutions, such as reusing properties as opposed to leaving them in a derelict state. Unnecessary urban sprawl is avoided while the use of recycled older materials enhances energy efficient and environmentally sound building practices.
Possibly a future prospect to look forward to in 2015 from the Green Building Council SA is a Green Star rating for industrial buildings. Growthpoint Properties’ Industrial Division Director, Engelbert Binedell, says that its 2014 award winning development applied the latest green building technologies to convert a contaminated old foundry into a state-of-the-art warehouse in Epping, Cape Town. The Overall Green award winning Lakeside Office Park redevelopment, designed by AMA Architects, is the first existing building in South Africa that has been redeveloped with the intention to obtain a GBCSA Four Star rating.
SAPOA’s category for transformation saw Noswal Hall, developed as Zenprop’s first landmark student accommodation, winning the overall Transformation category. This building, designed by Empowered Spaces, accommodates 399 residents across 19 floors and is located within close proximity to the University of the Witwatersrand campus. Heritage development was highlighted at the newly constructed military base depot for the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) in Thaba Tshwane, honoured with the National Overall Heritage award for 2014.
As one of only five overall category winners, the Heritage award considers criteria including engineering, construction, economic viability, sustainability, client and user-client satisfaction, as well as architecture. SAMHS, one of 46 entries into this category, achieved top ratings in all of these criteria.
With the support of industry leaders and a sound representative body, South Africa is likely to see higher levels of development in 2015.