Construction Industry Unites To form a National Umbrella Body

By Construction Alliance South Africa

South Africa’s construction industry has now united to form an umbrella body, the Construction Alliance South Africa (CASA) that is made up of 29 of the sectors’ professional, contractor, supplier and other bodies. The alliance was officially launched on 21 January 2021.

Industry stalwart, John Matthews who is the chairperson of CASA explained that the alliance was an important step towards uniting the voice of the industry and in facilitating smooth dialogue with government. “The need for unity in the sector cannot be over-emphasized, and because we all have the shared vision of an innovative, competitive and transformed industry, the formation of CASA is a historic and welcome achievement. It is also important as it comes at a crucial time when the industry is in engagements with the Presidency on the rollout of Strategic Integrated Infrastructure Projects to revive the economy” said Matthews.

Emphasizing the need for a united industry voice in confronting the industry’s challenges, Gregory Mofokeng of the Black Business Council in the Built Environment (BBCBE) who is the Deputy Chairperson of CASA, said it was important for the industry to forge a united front to demonstrate a serious commitment to collectively respond to industry issues.

CASA is made up of different industry bodies from across the sector with the broad objective of having joint representation in engagements on matters of mutual concern. It is expected that the alliance will not only lead a post-COVID recovery of the industry, but also tackle other long-standing industry issues that include accelerated transformation of the sector, protection of the industry from subsidised foreign competition as well as dealing with corruption and unethical business practices.

The construction industry successfully formed a COVID-19 response team at the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020. The Construction COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Team (CC19RRTT) was key in developing a well-co-ordinated industry response to the coronavirus pandemic including the safe re-activation of construction sites as lockdown restrictions were eased. The Task Team was also instrumental in co-ordinating and presenting the industry’s thinking on the national economic recovery plan. Following these recorded successes of the joint effort, the industry was in agreement on the need to form an alliance built on the shared goal of re-building the sector.

According to the Alliance’s MOU seen by SA Builder, Membership of CASA is for organisations whose members are engaged in the construction industry, through the provisioning of either goods, construction services or professional built environment services. These are classified in 2 broad categories consisting of Members and Associate Members.

Members are organisations operating in the construction industry responsible for the planning, design, construction, manufacture and/or supply of materials in the process of land development including the delivery of new buildings, public open space and services infrastructure, as well as the maintenance or rehabilitation thereof. Associate Members are organisations representing manufacturers, suppliers, professionals, and other organisations which provide supporting services and/or goods to the construction industry. This includes expert organisations, statutory bodies and special interest groups providing services linked to the construction industry.

Currently, participating organisations include the Association of Construction Project Managers (ACPM), Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS), Association of Construction Health and Safety Management (ACHASM), Association of Architectural Aluminium Manufacturers of South Africa (AAAMSA), Black Business Council in the Built Environment (BBCBE), Builders Warehouse (Suppliers and Manufacturing), Clay Brick Association of South Africa (CBASA), Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Construction Management Foundation (CMF), Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA), Concrete Manufacturers Association (CMA), Council for the Built Environment (CBE), Cox Yeats Attorneys, Institute for Landscape Architecture in South Africa  (ILASA), Master Builders South Africa (MBSA), National Construction Incubator (NCI), National Spa & Pool Institute of Southern Africa (NSPI), South African Institute of Architects (SAIA), South African Black Technical and Allied Careers Organisation (SABTACO), South African Geomatics Institute (SAGI), South African Institute of Black Property Practitioners (SAIBPP), South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA), South African Affordable Residential Developers Association, (SAARDA), South African Association of Consulting Professional Planners (SAACPP), South African Green Industry Council (SAGIC) , South African Paint Manufacturing Association (SAPMA),Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association (SAPPMA), South African Women in Construction and Built Environment (SAWIC & BE), The Aggregate and Sand Producers Association of South Africa (ASPASA), The Concrete Institute of South Africa (TCI), The Federated Employers Mutual Assurance Company (FEM), The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE), Western Cape Property Development Forum (WCPDF), and Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal (MBA KZN) as the Convener.




Project Managing Construction Projects On Fully Operational Hospital Sites Is No Mean Feat

Major construction and refurbishment projects conducted on fully operational hospital sites lead to a host of challenges given the nature and sensitivity of the location, the complexities and intricacies of which become magnified when it involves a heritage building next to a busy maternity block and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) building.

Global professional services company, Turner & Townsend, was appointed as project manager and principal agent for the recently completed refurbishment and extension of the UCT Neuroscience Institute building on the Groote Schuur Hospital campus in Cape Town.

The three-storey, u-shaped Cape Dutch Revival building was constructed in 1934 as a “Paying Patients’ Block” ancillary to the main block of the hospital, and had becoming increasingly visually separated from the campus due to, among other things, the construction of the New Groote Schuur Hospital block.

The project involved a combination of refurbishments, alterations and additions to the existing J-Block (Neuroscience building) of the hospital, with a view to consolidating various neuroscience-related departments into a single integrated and inter-disciplinary facility known as the Clinical Neurosciences Institute (CNI), while facilitating the flow and interaction between the centre and the entire hospital.

Says Jerome Alexander, Turner & Townsend senior project manager: “We were appointed at stage 5 into the project, namely at construction commencement, taking over from the previous project management firm. As Professor Graham Fieggen, Head of Neurosurgery and Director of the Neuroscience Institute pointed out, the single biggest challenge was undertaking a major construction project in the middle of one of the busiest hospitals in South Africa, on a building site surrounded by 24/7 ongoing clinical activity and patient care which could not be disrupted.

“Furthermore, access had to be provided to hundreds of workers, accommodating traffic and parking while maintaining security. All of this had to be done with as little noise and disruption as possible as construction continued apace in the middle of a typical cold, wet Cape winter.

“Being such an old precinct, we had no information regarding the underground services, therefore many trench excavations had to be done to identify underground services, resulting in the discovery of 11KVA electric cables, IT cables and water pipes. Without impacting the Radiology Centre in the building and the adjacent MRI building and maternity block – all with highly sensitive equipment and ongoing patient care, we relocated the exposed cables without a hitch – keeping them live in the process. Only once this was done could the lecture theatre be constructed. This involved excavations and lateral support about 7m down, removing 2 300 cubic metres of soil and materials. We also came upon asbestos, which had to be removed and disposed of following the correct protocols.”

Alexander says the Neurosciences Institute is a grand design and the first of its kind in Africa in terms of consolidating the different fields in neuroscience and neurosurgery, easily accessible in one location. “The facility also provides suitable social space, general workspace, canteen area, breakaway conference rooms and dedicated offices, as well as a newly-constructed 140-seater auditorium. The extra accommodation was created through the addition of a new, adjoining building to the rear as well as a further floor added to the existing building’s flat concrete roof.”

“The major challenge throughout was ensuring hospital activities continued uninterrupted, including emergency ambulance access. And as this was largely a donor-funded project, it was also essential that we stay within budget while meeting the differing expectations of two major stakeholders – the university and the provincial government,” he concludes.


Paragon Interface completes multi-company fit-out at 1 Park Lane

If designing the interior fit-out for an iconic building is not enough of a demanding challenge, imagine the complexities that arise when such a building contains a number of different clients, each with their own requirements, branding and aesthetics.

This was the challenge that faced interior architecture company Paragon Interface, part of the Paragon Group, at 1 Park Lane in Sandton. “Essentially what you end up with then is a number of smaller, self-contained projects contained within the whole,” comments Paragon Interface Associate Kirsty Schoombie.

Located within the new Katherine Street mixed-use precinct, 1 Park Lane is a P-grade development within walking distance of Sandton City and the Sandton Gautrain Station. It has seven levels of parking and a ground floor, with Bidvest Financial Services occupying the building from reception to L4.

There is an impressive double-volume space on L5 that forms the shared reception area for both Peregrine and Citadel. This is an elegant, high-end space containing various-sized meeting rooms. The signage and artwork in this space was designed in collaboration with Citadel marketing agency Bain & Bunkell.

It came up with the unique concept of naming each meeting room after a prominent Johannesburg street or location, including specific photographs and locally-commissioned artwork to differentiate and individualise each space.

The southern wing contains a client entertainment area, in addition to an auditorium that is glazed on two sides to allow for breathtaking views over Johannesburg. The auditorium posed a particular technical challenge in terms of its acoustics and unique positioning.

Peregrine and Citadel occupy L6 to L10, consisting of Peregrine Capital, Citadel Wealth Management, A2X and Peresec. The latter is a newly-listed company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange that takes up L9 and part of L10, which is a hi-tech trading space that includes a bar and entertainment area, with panoramic views over northern Sandton.

“A main feature of our design approach was to give each and every one of our clients a distinctive look and feel, especially as each one has their own corporate identity,” notes Schoombie. This was achieved by means of specific furnishings, colour palettes, fabrics and fixtures, while also accommodating the specific technical requirements of such financial services companies.

While the entire 1 Park Lane project was handed over in September last year, Schoombie has maintained close contact with her clients to gauge how the different companies have adapted to their new office environments.

“One of the biggest changes has been from a traditional closed-off office plan to a more open-plan set-up. We spent a lot of time with these clients to ensure that a level of privacy was maintained while still taking optimal advantage of the natural light and creating a more open collaborative space,” Schoombie concludes.

Realising the Potential of Cape York

Previously owned by the Bank of Mozambique and abandoned, Cape York had been hijacked and fraudulently sold, with several “owners” allowing it to become severely overcrowded and collecting rent illegally. It was infamous as a hub for drug trafficking and prostitution, lacked running water, power and sanitation and had seen two fires that claimed lives.

Hijacked buildings like this have become all too common in South Africa’s inner cities. These high-rises have not only become dangerous to live in but pose a threat to neighbouring buildings, impacting social safety as a whole.

Cape York, situated in Doornfontein on the corner of Nugget and Rahima Moosa Street, epitomised the negative impact of hijacked buildings on neighbourhoods and society. Originally a 10-storey office building with retail shops on the ground floor, employees who worked in the building started living there in 1997. As the building became more neglected, more people moved in, leading to severe overcrowding.

To compound this issue, the building was fraudulently sold to a group of investors – a discovery the appointed attorneys made during the transfer process. Once this was legally rectified, Samuel Beyin saw potential in the embattled building and bought out the shareholding of the Cape York owned entity.

Despite calls to simply demolish the then-derelict building after a second fire claimed seven lives in 2017, Beyin was determined to realise the building’s potential and transform it into a viable and safe rental property. He renamed the building Focus 1 and invested his own capital before approaching TUHF for a loan. The total cost of the project including refurbishment was R100 million.

The project presented many design, technical and construction challenges. But Beyin and TUHF focused on the opportunities to collaborate and resolve these creatively. The expected completion date was March 2020 but – because the finished building would provide student accommodation for up to 538 young people – Samuel and his team pushed through over the festive season to achieve practical completion on 28 January, well ahead of programme and in time for the new year.

The refurbished building consists of spacious two-bed and four-bed unit apartments as student accommodation offering, and communal study and social areas on the fifth floor. Each apartment is leased fully furnished, incorporating beds, cupboards and clever additional storage solutions under the beds that may be used to store textbooks and other study paraphernalia, as well as private bathrooms with a toilet and shower, a small kitchenette with a sink and eating area.

The building has full communal kitchens, with microwaves and stoves where students can prepare meals, as well as social areas to allow tenants a safe and comfortable space to interact and relax. Wifi, laundry facilities, an in-house gym, a library, football and basketball fields, state-of-the art biometric access to ensure safety and transport to and from campus complete the list of amenities that make Focus 1 such a sought-after home for students.

The surrounding universities were then invited to view the building in January 2020 and at the time, they immediately started referring students to take up tenancy. While tenanting the building was temporarily affected by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown and physical distancing measures to support containing the spread of the virus, tenancy is expected to pick up once on-site classes and attendance at the surrounding universities is allowed to resume – and toward the 2021 academic year.

In addition, the innovative building design is future proofed and constructed in such a way that it allows for fluent conversion. Should the market change, Focus 1 can easily be converted to normal apartments for rental stock should the owner decide.


The Ridge building at V&A Waterfront, façade installation update

With construction restrictions lifted, the V&A Waterfront’s development team has returned to The Ridge site to install the long-awaited façade. The first cross laminated timber (CLT) and glazing panels arrived and have been installed along Marine Road.

These custom-made panels with openable windows, are one of the key sustainability features of The Ridge building. It will assist in the natural ventilation of the office floors. CLT is a green and sustainable material since it is made out of renewable wood, sequesters carbon, and does not require the burning of fossil fuels during production.

The next milestone at The Ridge is making the building a living breathing one. It will consist of a mixed mode climate control to cover TABS, displacement ventilation and natural ventilation. Thereafter a world class interior to cover plantscaping, flexible working areas, and staff wellness focus to name a few.

Kwikspace supplies 52 classrooms for school safety in Eldorado Park

Kwikspace has delivered 52 standard units to Nancefield Primary School in Eldorado Park, as part of a government project geared towards safer school environments.

While the permanent classrooms are under construction, Kwikspace supplied the school with 33 classrooms, 13 ablutions, various staff quarters, a kitchen and a tuckshop.

Kwikspace’s prefabricated solutions, accommodating almost 1 850 students and 50 members of staff, were delivered in three weeks, and will be utilised for 12 months.

“This project was essential for student safety, with the older buildings being unsuitable for use. We are proud to be a part of this community upliftment project” says Claude Naidoo, Kwikspace Rental Sales Manager.

Kwikspace offers cost-effective, quality modular building solutions for schools across the country, from classrooms to ablutions, kitchens to libraries.


Turftech’s Multi-Purpose Rhino-Turf Pitch Transforms Hermanus Primary School

Pre-Covid-19, the staff and pupils at Hermanus Primary School in the Western Cape enjoyed the installation of the Turftech multi-purpose Rhino-Turf sports pitch, drastically improving the school’s sporting potential.

“It has always been a dream of the school to have its own synthetic turf facility on the school grounds,” explained Niel Botha, the school’s Head of Senior Hockey. “Our hockey and netball performance have really developed over the years and the installation of a superior synthetic pitch was desperately needed.”

For this particular installation, Hermanus Primary School decided to partner with Turftech, the leader in natural and synthetic turf technology. During a four-month project period, Turftech specialists constructed a 3 818m² multi-purpose pitch for netball, hockey, using the UK designed Rhino-Turf MT15 with a shockpad and fencing system. This advanced synthetic turf product replaced the school’s existing three tar netball courts, providing a much more aesthetically-superior, user-friendly playing surface.

“The reaction from parents, pupils and staff has been overwhelming,” continued Botha. “The school is now home to a world-class sports’ facility that will effectively allow us to develop our children’s skills in a variety of new ways.”

Botha said the multi-purpose pitch also allows the school to facilitate more sporting events on-site, such as the recent hockey camp which welcomed a South African hockey player and top Boland coaches. The school has already lined up a netball and hockey clinics for skills’ development, with many more sporting events in the pipeline: “This is so fantastic for the school, and – as the head of senior hockey – I would really like to thank everyone involved in this project.”

In addition to the superior playing surface and enhanced aesthetics associated with Turftech’s products, schools benefit from long-term cost-savings as well. Unlike traditional hard courts, the Turftech multi-sports’ facility does not have to be resurfaced every two to three years, with the new synthetic surface only needing upgrading every eight to 10 years. It also allows schools to accommodate multiple sporting codes while saving on space.

In addition to costs saved on maintenance, the pitch requires no water which, with the increased water scarcity experienced countrywide, is a welcome reality for many schools. Turftech facilities thereby drastically increase property value while making the school more competitive.

“Modern school sports are incredibly competitive in nature and this is beginning at primary school level,” explained Phillip Prinsloo, Sales Manager for Turftech. “For schools to be the best they have to offer their pupils the best and this is why so many schools are opting for Turftech’s artificial sports surfaces designed by our partners Rhino-Turf. Pupils are now able to practice for much longer hours and – for hockey specifically – there is more consistent ball roll and play, speeding up the game.”

For more information about Turftech’s superior natural and synthetic turf technology, visit


Turftech (Pty) Limited offers a turnkey solution and are specialists in the design, construction, development and maintenance of sport facilities including both natural and synthetic fields for soccer, rugby and hockey fields as well as for cricket and synthetic running tracks. Turftech also build’s traditional hard courts or synthetic turf courts to accommodate tennis, hockey, basketball and netball on same court.

Turftech together with their turf partners, Rhino-Turf, have brought the latest technology of turf products to the sporting market in South Africa and have successfully installed many artificial sport pitches throughout SA, now having the most FIH certified fields in the country with 6 x FIH National (sand dressed) certified fields and another 2 x FIH Global (water based) certified fields.

144 Oxford Poised For Completion In November

144 Oxford Poised For Completion In November


South African Builder speaks to the Senior Project Architectural Technologist of Paragon Architects, Taz-Wynne Superman, lead architect on the project.

Conceived by Growthpoint Properties in 2015, this prestigious and iconic R1.2 billion 36 700 m² premium-grade 144 Oxford Road office development in Rosebank, Johannesburg, is aimed at capitalising on the demand for office space in the popular precinct.

Growthpoint appointed Paragon Architects South Africa to bring this architectural dream to reality. Featuring two extended office towers connected by a central atrium, this striking development consists of nine occupiable floors and six basement levels for parking. Taz-Wynne and his team of seven architects worked closely with the client for some six years – finalising the design through a range of iterations, complicated along the way with changes in tenant and the ironing out of logistical challenges before construction could begin.

We are very proud as a team to have achieved all of our design objectives to the client’s satisfaction,” says Taz-Wynne. “Our ongoing interaction with all members of the Professional Team was of the highest level, with sharing of ideas and resolving challenges together enabling the project to be ready for hand-over at the end of this month [First week of November 2019].”

A primary feature of this striking building is the imposing central atrium which interconnects the two office towers. A 25 m steel girder spans the top of the atrium, creating a massive open area free of columns. The girder also supports the glass façade by means of steel beams spanning the same length of the girder, onto which the glass is clipped. As space is a crucial element of the overall aesthetic of the building unwanted columns would detract completely from the design criteria of the atrium.

Every part of the building has performance glass of different types, based on the planning of the building” explains Taz-Wynne. “On the northern side, for example, there are three types of double-glazed glass systems: 50T, which is a more clear lower performance glass which doesn’t reflect much sunlight; then a Cool-lite ST120 glass – a higher performing glass which is very reflective allowing very little heat through; followed by a Solar E plus grey, darker black-grey glass – slightly less performing which, being dark in colour, attracts more heat.”

The scope of Paragon’s design includes all common interior floor space of the building, including the atrium, bathrooms and common passageways. Each tenant is free to design their own interior space to while following a Tenant Criteria Document provided by the property owner.

As tiles play an important role in the interior design, only the best Italian tiles, being world leaders in this field, were selected for this purpose.

144 Oxford is well positioned with Gautrain nearby and directly opposite the Rosebank Shopping Mall and The Zone, enabling refreshing walking in an urban environment and enjoyment of its retail space. Dedicated traffic lights opposite the entrance to 144 Oxford encourage pedestrian access.

On construction challenges, Taz-Wynne points out that logistics played a key role as no lay down area was available on the site. This meant that all façades were pre-fabricated off-site and were then installed immediately on delivery, which was tightly planned and coordinated and thus required no storage on site.

Initially the building was designed for a 4-Star Green Star design. However as construction progressed it soon became clear that a 5-Star Green Star Design Certification from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) was quite feasible as the design was nine points ahead of the GBCSA requirement for a 5-Star rating. 144 Oxford currently awaits confirmation of this rating application from GBCSA. A four star design rating was achieved.

Façades, blinds, electrical systems, lights with motion detectors, recirculation of radiant heat and harvesting of rain water are all primary contributors to the 5-Star Green Star rating – as is the planting of indigenous plants in the deceptively large garden area, creating a very important aspect of the exciting vibe of the building as a whole..

The roof is a functional combination comprising a flat concrete roof housing mechanical plant – with air circulation going through a second “soft” roof above the main roof. In addition to two full backup generators have been installed to keep the entire building fully operational during power outages.

The six basement areas accommodate over 1 500 sizeable parking bays and encourage green star points through features such as bicycle storage racks, motor-cycle bays, showers and change rooms..

The entire Paragon team, contractors and the main contractor – Tiber WBHO JV – are extremely pleased with the outcome of this complex project, on time, and ready for hand-over to client in a few weeks’ time [beginning of November 2019],” concludes Taz-Wynne.


Construction of 144 Oxford was undertaken by the Tiber WBHO Joint Venture (JV).

South African Builder also conducted a Q&A session with JV partner, Tino Pereira, Director of WBHO Building North in order to gain further insight to the construction process on the project, its logistics, challenges and solutions:

SA Builder: Tiber Construction and WBHO have built significant synergy over time to complete projects such as this. Could you describe briefly how the teams have forged such strong and effective operational relationships.

Tino: The successful partnership goes back to 2011 when we completed our first JV Project, Alexandra Forbes. The like-mindedness of senior management and the culture of excellence in delivery of the respective company’s employees have made us a formidable leading JV in the industry – this was a large contributing factor to the initial success. In creating a strong history of successfully completed mega projects, the relationship has only grown from strength to strength. A further contributing factor was the decision to fully integrate skilled staff and management resources on the JV’s, thus creating a team atmosphere rather than unhealthy competition, ensuring that we are all united under one common goal: the success of the Team. Team building sessions are held periodically to further integrate and strengthen the good team work flow ethic. Mutual respect between individuals has been encouraged and cultivated from higher management filtering down to the guys on the ground.

SA Builder: In the case of 144 Oxford, what skills and capability strengths did your company bring to the project? And outline the general modus operandi between the two companies in this JV project. 

Tino: Both companies added to the skills and resource pool, while one company may have had a team member more experienced in management aspects, the other company would complement this by providing experience in a more technical role. Past experience from other projects on the successes and failures was instilled into the team. We both believe in the integration of experienced, very skilled tradesmen with that of dynamic youngsters which has created a very well balanced team at 144 Oxford.

SA Builder: What were your primary challenges encountered during construction? In particular the steel structures and installation of the façades.

Tino: The Atrium was highlighted at the outset as probably the most challenging aspect of the project and to this end the JV encouraged the professional team to fast track the procurement and the shop detailing of the intricate design elements. After numerous design and buildability sessions, the erection of the steel girder requiring special road closures and regular interim inspections to ensure the steel work performed to design criteria. The complexity of the transfer structure on the ground floor required close coordination between the structural design team and the architect – this proved to be key to the successful buildability of this level. Other key elements requiring close buildability sessions were the sloped façade on the noses.

SA Builder: Did you experience logistical challenges of any sort?

Tino: The proximity of the project to the busy Oxford road, restricted access on Tottenham road imposed by the Melrose Residency Association (MRA) and the sensitivity of having surrounding schools in the area required close cooperation between all parties to ensure deliveries were scheduled to a strict timetable and adhered to.

SA Builder: Were you able to accommodate all the architect’s requirements? To what extent were adjustments required and in which disciplines? 

Tino: Some of the architectural challenges on this project were quite unique, as each project designed by Paragon is not like any other in the industry or even like any other they’ve designed. Most of their projects simulate futuristic shapes and concepts. Some internal design details being quite unique and out of the norm require regular workshops and buildability sessions and normally achieve the right end goal set out by Paragon.

SA Builder: Were you affected at all by late re-design requirements by the client?

Tino: The project started out as an hotel and office development at the end of 2017, but soon after taking site hand-over the hotel was removed from the scheme and replaced with offices, which required a complete redesign of the building. The professional team managed to mitigate some delays by working fervently through the builders break to enable a restart towards the end of January 2018.

All images: Paragon Architects

Corobrik celebrates progress at new R801 million brick factory at Driefontein

Corobrik celebrates progress at new R801 million brick factory at Driefontein

30 April 2019

Pictured at the sod turning of the new Corobrik factory at Driefontein is from left to right Lerato Mokgotsi, Rehab Mathobela Corobrik Directors, Peter du Trevou Corobrik Chairman with Bryan Soldaat, Director: Resources Based Industries for the Department of Trade and Industry.

Corobrik, South Africa’s leading brick maker, is making steady progress in the construction of its R801-million new Driefontein factory and expects to see the first bricks exit kiln one of two kilns in March next year.

Speaking at an event held at the new factory building at Driefontein and attended by Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, chief executive of Corobrik Dirk Meyer said that Corobrik would commission Africa’s largest and most environmentally friendly brick factory by September 2020.

We are committed to South Africa and believe that it is just a matter of time before the construction sector improves. The construction industry and the associated brick industry has traditionally been and still is, cyclical. Corobrik has always invested strategically at the bottom of the cycle in order to be better prepared to reap the rewards of an upturn.” he said.

Meyer said that the driving force behind investment in this exciting facility was to increase production whilst reducing costs. The implementation of the best technology available worldwide would ensure that Corobrik remained a world-class superior quality producer.

Dirk Meyer, chief executive of Corobrik presents to Bryan Soldaat, Director: Resources Based Industries for the Department of Trade and Industry

The new Driefontein facility, which is expected to produce 100 million bricks per year, will meet larger volume orders for major construction and infrastructure projects while the company’s existing 13 clay brick factories and 14 kilns which produce a mix of plaster and face bricks for the residential and commercial markets, will meet smaller orders, he added.

Corobrik currently sells about four million bricks per working day. Construction of the new facility began in July last year. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Approximately 200 employees are on site each day during construction with a total of 323 000-man-hours recorded so far, he noted.

Minister Rob Davies congratulated Corobrik on progress so far. He said the company was well positioned to take full advantage of increased demand for building materials as the many new manufacturing facilities that had been announced by investors in response to government’s drive to attract both local and foreign investment began to take shape.

Bryan Soldaat, spokesperson for DTI pictured with Musa Shangase, commercial director of Corobrik

He also welcomed the fact that the construction of the new Driefontein facility would have a positive impact on the neighbouring community.

“The new Driefontein factory will use considerably less energy than the adjacent older facility.

It will fire bricks at an average natural gas consumption at less than 40% of the current facility consumption.”


30 people from the local community and family members of the current staff have completed a 12-week bricklaying course. The main contractor will employ these newly trained bricklayers for the duration of construction.

More than a million bricks will be used to build the new facility. Designers have used mainly face bricks manufactured at the current Driefontein factory. This includes 720 000 Blue Barley, 50 000 Country Classic Travertine and 163 000 Golden Wheat face bricks together with smaller numbers of Maize Travertine, Onyx Satin, Roan Satin, Agate and plaster bricks.

Corobrik does not intend to shut down the older Driefontein factory, Meyer said they were exploring the feasibility of running both production facilities by introducing new product offerings in the market.

The new plant will create around 60 jobs in the factory and will require at least 800 bricklayers to bring in the bricks that are produced and sold.

It would also be necessary to upgrade existing skills needed to operate the state-of-the-art technology factory.

When recruiting staff for the new factory, preference will be given to existing employees who will be trained on the new equipment as they have the advantage that they understand the brick making process,” he said. This will create vacancies and job opportunities elsewhere in the business.

Both local and overseas manufacture of the new equipment to be installed at Driefontein has already begun. Some of the items have already been installed. 178 shipping containers have been delivered and offloaded since the middle of January 2019. By the end of the project, approximately 600 containers of machinery and equipment will have been delivered to the site.

All surface water will be channelled into one of the existing quarry dams and then reused as process water. A new effluent treatment plant will also be constructed.

Photovoltaic panels will be installed on the north facing roof to convert solar energy into AC power and act as a grid tie in system to supplement Eskom supply during the day. It is estimated that the electrical energy produced will be approximately 10% of the factory’s daytime electrical power requirement.

Divercity invests R2 billion in Joburg inner-city developments

Divercity invests R2 billion in Joburg inner-city developments

ABSA Towers Main and Jewel City to be redeveloped and linked to Maboneng

ABSA Towers Main

Divercity Urban Property Fund is investing R2bn in Johannesburg as part of its strategy to create thriving mixed-use inner-city precincts. This investment, the largest in the Johannesburg CBD for some years, is focused on the redevelopment of the iconic ABSA Towers Main building and Jewel City.

Newly launched Divercity is an investment fund backed by the experience of some of South Africa’s leading property investors and developers. It is set to renew and re-energise the country’s urban centres with its unique focus on inner-city precinct development that combines commercial buildings with affordable residential space to create inclusive and diverse neighbourhoods. Its strong business case is also transformative in a uniquely South African sense.

Divercity’s major shareholders and stakeholders are Atterbury and Ithemba Property, with Talis Property Fund playing a major part in the formation of the fund. Cornerstone investors will be RMH Property and Nedbank Property Partners, subject to Competition Commission approval. It launched earlier this year with a R2bn portfolio of prominent commercial and affordable residential assets, which will grow to over R4bn on completion of its latest development projects.

Divercity Urban Property Fund

Wouter de Vos, CEO of Atterbury Property Fund, says: “Divercity is leading the way in creating inclusive, sustainable, amenity-rich neighbourhoods and inspiring others to commit to the vision of regenerated cities. The ABSA Towers Main and Jewel City projects are iconic and symbolic of where Divercity is going.”

Following a competitive bidding process, Divercity acquired the 30-storey ABSA Towers Main building from ABSA, conditional on approvals from the Competition Commission.

The currently unoccupied building will be redeveloped into a one-of-a-kind mixed-use building for South Africa, including 520 affordably priced residential rental apartments, a floor of coffee shops, restaurants and recreation, ground floor convenience retail, child care facilities, a public park, integrated public transport facilities and a wealth of public art.

ABSA will also be leasing back nine floors with 10,000sqm of office space in the redeveloped building. Once completed, the development will be valued at over R400m.

We are constantly looking for ways to express who the new Absa is and what we stand for. We are taking an old building and giving it a new lease on life to benefit our colleagues and the broader community. It’s about finding new ways of getting things done by creating a vibrant space where we can live, work and play together,” says Wendy Cuthbert, head of Absa Corporate Real Estate Solutions (CRES).

Jewel City new Urban Plaza

Rian Reyneke, CEO of Ithemba, says: “With its partners, Divercity has an established track record of successful commercial development and good placemaking. Like Divercity, ABSA is deeply committed to the Joburg inner city. This commitment and urban regeneration are the shared focus behind the project. Our likeminded partnership has made it possible to redevelop a building as significant as ABSA Towers Main.”

The project will commence in early 2019, with ABSA expected to reoccupy the towers early in 2020. The 20 floors dedicated to residential accommodation and recreation will be launched in various phases.

Besides creating an inclusive new world-class ‘live, work, play’ environment, the project is also designed to enhance the area as a whole. As part of a wider neighbourhood development initiative, a pedestrian-friendly walkway with street furniture, lighting and art will be created from ABSA Towers Main all the way to Maboneng. This unique urban intervention prioritizes pedestrians and people of the local community above vehicular traffic.

Between ABSA Tower Main and Maboneng is Jewel City, the former heart of the diamond and precious metals trade in Johannesburg, which spans six city blocks that have been closed off to the public for decades. Divercity acquired Jewel City from Redefine Properties and the property transferred on 1 October 2018.

Jewel City will reopen to the public as a vibrant mixed-use precinct with a fully pedestrianized streetscape and a total development value of over R1.2bn once fully completed. The project includes the redevelopment of existing buildings as well as the construction of over 40,000sqm of new buildings in the precinct.

The rejuvenated Jewel City will include an abundance of amenities such as a school, clinic, gym, parking and convenience retail as well as fast food and restaurants. It will also include 20,000sqm of commercial space, 1,200 new residential apartments in phase one and up to 1,000 in phase two. The pedestrian-friendly walkway between Absa Tower Main and Maboneng will past directly through it.

Work on the Jewel City project begins in November with the first phase of retail, commercial and residential space set to be ready by August 2019.

In the next 18 months alone, with its ABSA Towers Main and Jewel City projects as well as R400m of residential accommodation under development in Maboneng, Divercity will launch more than 75,000sqm of new residential space in Joburg – more than 2,500 apartments in total.

Tebogo Mogashoa, Chairman of Talis Property Fund, as well as Chairman of the Atterbury Property Fund explains: “Creating affordable rental accommodation in a mixed-use precinct in a central city location gives wage-earning employees the opportunity to live close to work, which is extremely rare by global standards, and especially so in South Africa. Besides the luxury of offering a short walk to work, the pedestrianised precinct is also integrated with public transport for those who travel further.”

Connected mixed-use developments are widely recognised as creating more economically successful and socially desirable urban environments. But besides being good for Johannesburg, its people, its business and economy, Divercity’s game-changing developments are also good for the environment.

Denser urban living close to work opportunities is prized as an essential strategy for limiting carbon emissions. The two redevelopment projects also represent the adaptive reuse of existing but outdated structures, thereby being sustainable by reducing the need for new building construction, which is a massive contributor to carbon emissions. The new ABSA premises is designed to be Green Star SA rated by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA). In addition, the residential component of the building will also use sustainable materials where possible and employ sustainability enhancing interventions that limit energy and water use, and costs, for residents.