Tag Archives: Concor Buildings

CONCOR BUILDINGS DOES IT AGAIN AT CONSTRUCTION WORLD BEST PROJECTS

Concor Buildings received industry recognition at Construction World’s 2019 Best Projects awards last night when the company scooped the winning place in the Building Contractors category with its Oxford Parks Phase 1 Project.

In addition to this, the project also received a Special Mention in the AfriSam Innovation Award for Sustainable Construction.

Rui Santos, managing director of Concor Buildings, says that the company has established a reputation for tackling complex projects and delivering these safely, on time and within budget.

The Oxford Parks Phase 1 Project comprises a super basement structure with five buildings of which the BPSA was the first to be completed. Significantly, Concor Buildings has been appointed to continue work on the balance of the structures in the precinct.

About the winning entry
The BPSA head office building, with its compelling triangular shape, is a celebration of inspired architectural design coupled with meticulous attention to detail during construction, creating a strong focus point in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

Constructed by Concor Buildings, the new GBCSA 4-Star Green-rated head office for BPSA is the first completed building in the Oxford Parks Precinct. The Oxford Parks Precinct was selected as a pilot project for the Green Building Council of South Africa to create a green precinct rating tool for public environment projects.

The site of this development is near the Rosebank Gautrain station giving priority to alternative transport systems thus potentially reducing environmental impact of the tenants and customers.

While the architectural team impressed with an iconic design, Concor Buildings’ construction team excelled with innovative solutions for the challenges they faced to deliver a quality structure on time and within budget.

CONCOR BUILDINGS CONSTRUCTING OXFORD PARKS PHASE I

Concor Buildings was well positioned to take on the challenging construction of Oxfords Parks Phase I which commenced in February 2019 after their successful completion of the BP Building in 2018.

This phase comprises five buildings: four mixed-use premium office and retail buildings, and a fifth building which will house a hotel designed to 4-star standards with special emphasis on art and business.

Construction work of 6 Parks Boulevard (also known as the Arup Building) started in February 2019. Work on this structure is progressing according to schedule, in line with the handover end January 2020.

Initially designed as a three-storey structure with the ground floor being dedicated to retail space, these plans were modified to the requirements of the tenants, Arup and Sony. This resulted in another slab being added to accommodate a private entertainment area, as well as recording studios on the fourth level.

The structure on this rooftop level mimics the design shape of the building, but with a smaller footprint, thus occupying only about 50% of the available rooftop space. A double lift shaft arrangement was incorporated into the modified design to ensure that this level will only be accessible to authorised visitors.

A portion of the site is located directly above the Gautrain tunnel, necessitating 20% of the foundation for the basement to be a raft foundation as the bottom of the excavation was situated just above the Zone of Exclusion.

The rest of the foundation was constructed with traditional piles and pile caps. Concrete used in the construction of the basement levels was a standard 25MPa, while 30MPa concrete was specified for the floor slabs.

The visual impact of this building will be in the architectural façade where a special pattern was printed on the glass panels. This application will create a forest-like graphic, reinforcing the urban green theme of Oxford Parks. This paint technique will add aesthetic interest, but also yield thermal and anti-glare properties to address the green star requirements of the building.

Concor Buildings’ contract for this structure includes construction as well as the total fitting out of all services. Despite some unforeseeable delays during the construction of the basement, the schedule was back on track by the time the first-floor slab was cast and the team is confident that the building will be ready for occupation by the tenants in February 2020.

The building on 8 Parks Boulevard, or Building 3 as it is known on site, has recently been added to Concor’s portfolio in this precinct and is currently being constructed as a five-storey mixed-use office and retail facility. Construction is progressing well, and the first-floor slab is currently being cast.

The ground level of this building extends onto a cantilevered slab which forms the new Parks Boulevard, providing access to service and delivery vehicles. Both the Arup building and Building 3 face onto Parks Boulevard, which is currently presenting the contractor with an added challenge which requires meticulous planning of sequences for access of the various construction vehicles on this newly constructed cantilevered road.

The scope for Building 3 is to deliver the shell structure as future tenants will be involved in the fit-out of the building. The scheduled completion date is June 2020.

The building on the north-eastern corner of the precinct is also currently under construction and will be the new head office of Life Healthcare. Eighty per cent of the first-floor slab of the five-storey building has already been finished, on schedule for completion by October 2020. A common design protocol governs all these buildings, but this building will incorporate an auditorium, as specified by the tenant.

The fifth building, a Radisson Red hotel, has been designed as a seven-storey facility to 4-Star standards and will have 222 guest rooms. A gym and a swimming pool will occupy the roof terrace. The first two levels will be constructed using conventional slabs, with post-tensioned concrete being used from the third floor up. The hotel will be ready to accept guests at the beginning of 2021.

Oxford Parks Phase 1 is a testimony to meticulous coordination to ensure that the concurrent construction of the different buildings run smoothly. Three tower cranes are on site which necessitated a special resource-linked crane study to optimise rental time. The large workforce which is required for the simultaneous construction of the various structures of Phase 1 means that there can be no compromise on safety. Daily planning and safety meetings are held, with weekly review meetings taking place to ensure that progress remains on-schedule.

According to Martin Muller, the Concor Buildings contracts manager, being awarded Phase 1 of the Oxford Parks development is a direct result of Concor Buildings’ achievement during the construction of the BP Building, 199 Oxford Road, ahead of time and within budget.

Muller adds: “This project is significant for Concor Buildings particularly in the current suppressed trading conditions in the South African construction industry. Being appointed contractor on this prestigious and complex project is testimony to the company’s experience and expertise, coupled with a good relationship with the developer, Intaprop.”

CONCOR BUILDS WORLD CLASS DATA CENTRE FOR ORANGE BOTSWANA

Construction of the new Data Centre for Orange Botswana is well underway, with this fast track construction project being undertaken by Concor Buildings set to deliver the Tier III Data Centre before the end of 2019.

The Orange Botswana facility, situated in the Botswana Innovation Hub and Technology Park in Gaborone, will be a central point of connectivity for national and international networking and will provide data services to customers in the region.

Brian Carter, operations director at Concor Buildings, says that with an established track record of delivering quality projects including the recently completed Energy Centre at Bank of Botswana, the company offered the requisite expertise and access to resources including skilled local personnel.

Concor has been active in Botswana for more than 50 years and constructed many buildings in Gaborone and Francistown. This includes I-Towers 1 and 2, the De Beers Global Sightholder Sales Complex, the Bank of Botswana Cash Handling Centre and the FNB Head Office as well as infrastructure for Debswana’s Jwaneng Diamond Mine.

The data centre comprises two plant yards, built on either side of the main data hall, to provide concurrently maintainable and fully redundant electrical and mechanical systems to the data centre. The main MEP plant supplying the data hall and other auxiliary facilities are due for installation.

The data centre itself comprises data space – live and future – with electrical rooms on either side facilitating the feeding of the data centre from two sources. Services within the centre include access control, an integrated fire monitoring and alarm system with fire suppression, data trays, air conditioning units, plumbing and drainage and the complete low voltage and medium voltage electrical installation.

The plant yards which feed the electrical rooms are equipped with standby diesel generators, diesel storage tanks and air-cooled outdoor condensers.

External works include the construction of a guard house, parking with carports, bulk diesel and transformer yards, paving, landscaping and perimeter fencing.

Carter says that allowance has been made for future phased expansion in data space and electrical rooms as well in vertical extension.

“While the structure is a standard concrete frame with brick fill, the external walls are cavity walls with an internal vapour barrier. This construction will significantly reduce the building’s mechanical and electrical loads making it more energy efficient and ensuring a stable environment for the data hall,” he says.

In line with Concor Buildings’ operating strategy, Major Incident Prevention (MIP) and Visible Felt Leadership (VFL) programmes are in place on the project. Ongoing safety awareness and risk assessment is further facilitated by a full-time safety officer on the project.

Areas that have received special focus include working at height and activities which need to be conducted in and around the open exterior services excavations on site. These include data sleeves, electrical sleeves, diesel sleeves, fire and plumbing installations and manholes. In addition to this, access to finishes below the 1,2 metre access floor need to take priority.

While the use of local labour was not a prerequisite on the project, some 95% of the on-site people, including employees and subcontractors, are local. Carter says ongoing skills development forms a part of Concor’s commitment to the country and the company’s sustainability model.

The Orange Botswana Data Centre is scheduled for completion in the last quarter of 2019. The centre is expected to cover 81% of the population with 2G network capability, 62% with 3G and 45% with 4G.

SUCCESSFUL CONSTRUCTION OF CRESTAQUARIUM BY CONCOR BUILDINGS

The indoor CrestAquarium at Cresta Shopping Centre allows shoppers to view more than 30 species of fish. Constructed by Concor Buildings and unveiled to the public in June 2019, this ‘edu-tainment’ feature is on the lower level of the centre’s food, entertainment and cinema court.

Specialist Italian experts provided the pure cast acrylic blocks for underwater use, and Martin Muller, contracts manager at Concor Buildings explains that one of the first challenges during the project was the logistics of getting these large acrylic panels into place.

“The panels were shipped in two pieces, each measuring five metres in diameter and four metres high,” Muller says. “With each item weighing about four tonnes, they were transported in jigs and trolleyed into the confined space of the shopping centre.”

To create enough space to access the lower level, one of the shopping centres escalators was removed completely to facilitate access for the trolleys. A spider crane, positioned on the food court level above, was used to lift and position each panel. The weight exerted by the crane’s activities was considered during this operation, with back propping of the slab on which it rested being done.

Various other technicalities related to the CrestaAquarium’s operation were also attended to by Concor Buildings. This included two pump rooms and acclimatisation baths for the fish which were used before they were introduced to their new home.

“After establishing the cast concrete base for the CrestAquarium structure, we also installed service ducts for water reticulation,” Muller says. “Another important aspect was the pressurised extraction system used to prevent dust ingress.”

Concor Buildings also built insulated panels around the acrylic structure, which ensured the required heat levels allowing the panels to bond and cure over a number of weeks.

“The next phase was quite technical, with the top of the CrestAquarium being covered with a fibre-reinforced plastic cap, including stainless steel components to avoid corrosion,” says Muller. “An added consideration in almost all our work on this project was that we were working in a live environment. The centre was busy with shoppers and visitors, so it was important as always that we worked with safety as a priority.”

The final aspects of the project included the placing of custom-made, marine themed mosaics in the floor around the CrestAquarium, and hydro-testing of water pressures and equipment. Concor Buildings started on the project in August 2018 and completed it in May 2019.

FAST-TRACK REPURPOSING OF BMW GROUP FACILITY COMPLETED BY CONCOR BUILDINGS

Concor Buildings has completed the fast-tracked repurposing of BMW GROUP South Africa’s disused parts distribution warehouse on their Midrand Campus, Gauteng, delivering a new Dealer training centre, welcome/brand centre, and the information technology (IT) competence hub for the luxury motoring Group.

According to Concor Buildings’ site agent Blaine van Rensburg, the whole project was to be built within existing structures, with extensive demolition and bulk earthworks required. The main scope of the contract included a new Dealer training centre for technicians from BMW Group’s dealer network, office space for the IT staff, a ‘green lung’ multi-purpose area, and repurposing of the old training centre on site to house a gym, restaurant and welcome centre and other ancillary facilities.

Work began in May 2018 and construction was completed March 2019. The team moved off site at the end of May 2019. The training centre, says van Rensburg, has been constructed to include both technical and non-technical training facilities.

“The technical training areas are double-volume workshops, each constructed to meet the specific requirements of a particular trade or apprentice level,” he says. “This area also includes three plant rooms for air conditioning facilities, a server room and ablution facilities.”

A key aspect of the primary construction project related to inserting office space within the disused warehouse, generally referred to by BMW GROUP as the “IT Competence Hub”, further improving the digital linkages between BMW’s South African operations and other countries in the worldwide Group.

“The demanding specifications for this area included acoustic-rated drywall, glass and aluminium partitioning for office spaces and meeting rooms and ceilings which are rated for both fire and acoustic performance, as well as similar specifications for the 4,500 m2 over-sheet roofing system,” he says. “These specialised ceiling and roofing systems contribute to the energy efficiency of the building.”

Two smoke extraction shafts were installed, as well as two server rooms and five HVAC plant rooms.

He notes that constant and uninterrupted digital connectivity on the BMW campus was non-negotiable during the construction process, as the site housed not just the national head office but also BMW Financial Services and the BMW On-Call service’s fibre reticulation, which is the backbone of their network functionality and linked to the global network. All excavations therefore had to be particularly careful of existing underground services.

“Brownfield projects like these tend to pose particular challenges, as there is not always complete certainty about existing site conditions and building services,” he says. “There are several measures that we adopt, however, to help gain a better understanding of these factors which ensures the project schedule is not disrupted or delayed, and potentially eliminates the risk of damage to the property.”

For instance, pilot trenches were excavated where possible to expose existing underground services and avoid damaging them. Land surveillance of the existing benchmarks or control points was conducted to double-check the survey information provided; the older the building, the less certainty can be assumed, he notes.

“Where building services were exposed during excavation of the pilot trenches, these were surveyed and plotted onto a drawing by our registered land surveyor,” says van Rensburg. “This helped both the construction team and the client to improve our knowledge of the services in place.”

The green lung area – which will be used for recreational and social purposes – benefited from an innovative adjustment in terms of how to deal with a large retaining wall.

For a start, an existing concrete block retaining wall of about 950 m2 in size – as well as 1,800 m3 of hard rock and 3429 m3 excavated soil – were removed. Instead of replacing this with a reinforced concrete wall, the project design team agreed to the construction of a permanent lateral-support gunite wall. This significantly reduced construction time and complemented the industrial look-and-feel that the design team envisioned at inception.

Culverts and channels for underground services were installed adjacent to the base of the wall. Planters, staircases and seating areas were then constructed to beautify the area in front of the wall and increase its functionality.

The old training centre building was also refurbished in line with BMW Group sustainability targets and now houses a state of the art welcome centre, restaurant and production kitchen and a staff gym and yoga deck. Relooking the overall circulation routes on site now sees this building being the primary visitor entrance and playing an important role as the brand centre/welcome centre for all visitors to BMW Group South Africa. This multi-purpose area has a layout that can be altered to suit the company’s marketing requirements at any stage, including the display of vehicles, motorcycles and museum pieces inside the building.

The project included the conversion of a truck delivery area on the eastern side of what was previously the warehouse into an open-air parking area for staff and associates. The visitors’ parking was also reconfigured and expanded to accommodate double the number of visitor vehicles. On the western end of the site, an energy centre has been created housing the main plant related to the new building services, including a modern and efficient HVAC system. In this is area is also waste management and storage space, as well as offices and ablutions for facilities management staff. Adjacent to the energy centre is another open-air parking area which will used by the apprentices and lecturers.

“A further time saving innovation – introduced in consultation with the design team – was in relation to the offices and training centre on the first floor,” he says. “We managed to save on the application of over 4,000 m2 of plastering and paint on what would be brick walls, opting instead to construct acoustic drywalls. This reduced the scaffolding and wet works required, ultimately saving considerable time on constructing the area.”

Van Rensburg highlights that, due to the timeframes and complexity of each area of the project, it was necessary for construction work to take place on all faces almost simultaneously.

“For us to ensure that each area was getting the attention it deserved, we approached each section of the building as a mini-project on its own,” he says. “Concor Buildings and our subcontractors then assigned dedicated resources to each area, ensuring that the momentum was maintained and that the same teams who started an area would also finish it.”

Another challenge that was creatively resolved was the space limitation in certain areas, where it was not possible to gain access with moving plant or machinery that would typically have been used. This was facilitated by Concor Buildings’ purchase of industrial-grade steel trolleys, which were large and strong enough to move general materials around. They were used to stack items like full-size plywood boards, glass, aluminium, bricks, plaster material, structural steel beams, and ceiling and drywall material.

“This process meant that less manpower and less physical exertion was required for material handling and we believe this contributed to a lower fatigue rate, which in turn helped us maintain the outstanding safety record that we achieved on this project,” says van Rensburg.

CONCOR BUILDINGS GIVES NEW SHINE TO SKUKUZA WITH SANPARKS SAFARI LODGE

The wildlife-loving public can look forward to another upmarket venue in the Kruger National Park after Concor Buildings recently completed a new three-star safari lodge at Skukuza camp.

Developed by South African National Parks (SANParks), the exciting development adds a new dimension to the Kruger Park offering, slotting in between the traditional camp accommodation and the top-end private lodges. Planned and constructed as a ‘green building’, Skukuza Safari Lodge boasts 128 units, including 87 standard rooms, 20 family rooms and 13 universal rooms with easy access for wheelchairs.

Facilities at the lodge include a restaurant, bar, meeting rooms, gym, pool and laundry, as well as overnight accommodation for 16 staff. With a focus on environmental care, the lodge has been designed to combine the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Principles as well as the requirements of the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA). This meant that targets for lower energy usage as well as water savings were also built into the planning.

Work began when the Concor Buildings team moved onto site in February 2017. Practical completion was reached in October 2018, and the team plans to leave site at the end of March 2019. According to Concor Buildings’ site agent, Christopher Martin, the environmental focus was taken on board by the team and applied with commitment in various ways.

“There were over 50 existing trees on the site, including two iconic baobabs in pristine condition,” says Martin. “We worked hard to accommodate important natural resources like these, even redesigning the parking areas and moving one of the buildings to be more sensitive to the existing landscape.”

In line with green building requirements, the two-level structure does not protrude above tree level, minimising its visual impact. Advances in lightning protection have been harnessed, with integrated protectors being used in place of the tradition lightning poles that are very tall and generally unsightly.

Even the provision of lighting is designed in a way that reduces light pollution. Water efficiency is prioritised through rainwater harvesting, grey water treatment and a dual-flush system in toilets which use recycled water. Low-e coatings on windows allow guests to enjoy unimpeded views of the natural beauty from indoors, while keeping out the heat. This, in turn, improves the energy efficiency of the building, reducing the power required for air conditioning. Innovative design also ensures that windows do not face direct sunlight.

Architectural timber is a prominent feature of the lodge, with laminate saligna beams used for long-span trusses. Thatched roofing and grass ceilings add to the natural ambience, along with design elements from local cultures. While making every effort to be non-intrusive, the lodge is a substantial construction with 5,200 m2 of decking. Over 3,600 m3 of concrete has been poured over 150 tonnes of reinforced bar, and 1,8 million bricks have been laid. The coverage of roof thatching measures over 3,600 m2, while 5,000 m2 of sheeting has been used.

In recognition of the authentically wild surroundings of the lodge, an important use of the concrete was in the bases of the game fence. The fence has been built all around the lodge, with substantial bases measuring in size from 1,5 m by 1,5 m to 1 m by 1 m.

The site itself presented a few challenges, with much of the infrastructure dating back many decades and not all precisely recorded in terms of location. Further investigation through radar technology and even geographic positioning systems (GPS) was sometimes necessary to identify underground services. Most services such as fresh water, grey water and sewage had to be rerouted in line with the needs of the new structures.

“Waste was carefully managed on site, with the assistance of a contracted specialist to help us sort and recycle waste,” Martin says. “As the project progressed, we were also able to contribute towards restoring and rehabilitating some of the old borrow pits in the area.”

An ongoing challenge was the distance between the site and the towns from which products and services were sourced. Being two hours from Nelspruit, for instance, added to the logistical burden and lengthened lead-times, especially considering the road speed restrictions within the Kruger Park.

“Transporting readymix concrete from the batching plant in Hazyview was a particular challenge,” says Martin. “The distance factor was compounded by the high ambient day-time temperatures, which could reach 45 degrees Celsius during our building phase. Adding a retarding admixture allowed us to extend the concrete’s workability window to two hours.”

The movement of workers between their homes and work was also an onerous process that required careful management. While Concor Buildings exceeded the client’s brief by employing 100% of general labour from local communities, those communities could still be up to 150 km from site. Training was an important part of the project, upskilling local worker in terms of safety practice, concrete work, bricklaying, plastering and plumbing.

To combat rhino poaching, security measures in the Kruger Park have had to be stepped up. These stringent measures affect the movement of everyone in the park, including construction workers. The necessary checks and procedures added to transportation cycle times but simply had to be managed by the team in a responsible way.

Despite the remote location, the project was able to promote local suppliers by spending more than the required 30% of procurement value within 150 km of the site, using vendors with B-BBEE Level 3 or higher.

“Given the importance of community participation, we engaged a community liaison officer from the local area to work with us on our various initiatives,” Martin says. “In addition to facilitating employment, he also assisted with community development interventions such as the donation of salvaged building materials, school sports events, an anti-poaching campaign and soccer kit donations for a local tournament.”

CONCOR BUILDING HANDS OVER CITY-STYLE MALUTI CRESCENT

Within the 13‑month timeframe and in time for its official opening on 21 March 2019, Concor Buildings has completed the Maluti Crescent regional retail hub, owned by Vukile Property Fund, at Phuthaditjhaba in Free State province.

The modern new development – designed to highlight the spectacular mountain scenery as well as the local culture – is expected to draw shoppers from as far afield as Kestell, Clarens and even Harrismith. According to Concor Buildings contract manager Martin Muller, the expansion added 12,600 m2 of gross leasable area (GLA) plus another 34,000 m2 of parking to the existing strip mall.

“This new mall is likely to be life-changing for consumers in the area, with a variety of brand-name stores moving in for the first time,” says Muller. “Adding to the shopping experience will be stunning architecture which celebrates local culture, highlights the sandstone colours of the surrounding area, and gives panoramic views of the Maluti mountains.”

Muller emphasises the positive local impact that the construction has achieved, with about 3,500 workers inducted into site activities over the life of the project. The numbers working on site peaked at over 1,000 before tailing off towards completion. The Concor Building team was even able to accommodate over 40 internship students from the University of the Free State at various stages of the contract.

“Despite the logistical challenges of the site’s relatively remote location, we managed this well through detailed planning and closely monitored project implementation,” he says. “Through our upskilling programmes and on-site training, a range of skills were transferred to local residents working on the project, including bricklaying, plastering, painting and tiling.”

He notes that a key consideration was to keep the existing shopping centre open and easily accessible to consumers at all times during the construction of the new mall. So enthusiastic were the locals that – far from being discouraged from the area – many came to watch the progress in anticipation of the new facilities to come.

The construction work also had to contend with an ongoing interruption to the mains water supply due to infrastructure upgrades in the town. This necessitated the use of tankers to provide the site with its regular water requirements.

Concor Buildings is part of Concor Construction which was acquired by a consortium led by Southern Palace Group.

CONCOR AT THE HEART OF CAPE PROJECT TO IMPROVE LIVES

Leading construction contractor, Concor is taking a leading role in one of the region’s most important and innovative public-private urban developments.

The Conradie Better Living Model project is aimed at improving the lives of Western Cape residents, and Mark Schonrock, property development manager at Concor Construction, says the new housing model is a real game changer.

“As a company we are excited to be involved in this project which is located on the 22 hectare site of the former Conradie Hospital near Pinelands,” Schonrock says. This residentially-led, mixed-use neighbourhood development will prioritise integration, sustainability and affordability.

Concor Construction has been tasked with executing the full development of the project. This includes all town planning, detailed designs, sales and marketing, funding, construction and handover to end-users. The multi-million rand initiative is being developed as a partnership between the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town and the private sector.

The core of the development is between 3,500 and 3,600 housing units; of these, of which about 1,760 will be grant-funded, affordable units. The initiative will provide affordable housing – reasonably close to Cape Town’s central business district – for families earning between R3,500 and R22,500 per month.

Sports facilities, a community hall and schools for 1,600 learners are on the plans, as well as up to 60,000 m² of commercial space and 15,000 m² of retail space. A three-star or four-star business hotel, with 160 rooms and 500 m² of conferencing facilities, is also planned.

The town planning scheme also incorporates substantial green belt areas with recreational facilities. The bulk of the zoning is MU2 (a category of mixed use in the Cape Town zoning scheme). The development framework and rezoning has been finalised and approved, and the precinct plans are currently underway.

An important benefit of the site – which is to the west of Thornton and north-east of Pinelands – is its proximity to public transport. It is within walking distance of both the Mutual and Thornton railway stations.

Although this is outside the control of Concor, there is also the potential for expanding other public transport modes, such as the MyCiti bus service. It is hoped that good access to public transport will make residents less reliant on private vehicles. The site will also have interconnected footpaths and cycling infrastructure as part of an integrated non-motorised transport plan for the area.

OXFORD PARKS SUCCESS EARNS CONCOR BUILDINGS NEXT PHASE

Concor Buildings has kicked off construction on the second phase of the prestigious Oxford Parks project in Rosebank, Johannesburg, after their successful completion of the first phase last year.

The Phase 2 project comprises two office buildings, and construction began in February 2019. Each block is designed to achieve a four-star rating as certified by the Green Building Council South Africa’s Green Star system, reflecting a ‘best practice’ level. This includes energy efficient design, and the use of selected materials such as reduced-cement concrete.

The first block – section one of the Phase 2 project – will have three office levels of just over 2,800 m2 gross building area (GBA), built on four basement levels measuring about 11,000 m2. There will also be a retail component on the ground floor of almost 950 m2 GBA. The gross leasable area (GLA) of the office levels will amount to over 2,500 m2, while in the retail area it will be about 670 m2. This building is scheduled for completion in January 2020.

In section two, which is expected to be completed in September 2020, the building will comprise five office levels and four basement levels. Office space will measure about 8,750 m2 GLA and almost 9,700 m2 GBA, while the basement area measures 12,440 m2. It will also include a ground floor retail component, this one measuring 1,047 m2 GLA and 1,177 m2 GBA.

According to Concor Buildings contract manager Chris Maritz – who also oversaw Oxford Parks Phase 1 – difficult trading conditions continue to be experienced in Gauteng’s private sector construction segment. This makes for tight margins, also demanding that close control be constantly exerted on site to ensure all the necessary process as well as quality and safety systems are applied.

“The project deadlines will, as usual, be challenging to meet, especially with the heavy rain experienced in the month of February 2019,” says Maritz. “The ground and foundation work are particularly weather‑sensitive, and the heavy rain has a direct impact on site progress.”

He notes that the foundation conditions on site are not ideal, with varying rock levels resulting in a mix of pile caps and foundations being employed. While pile caps are used where load bearing piles can be installed, the foundations are required where excavations for bases need to reach bedrock, resulting in deep excavations that require substantial mass concrete.

“All these factors add further constraints on the project schedule, but of course the extensive experience in our teams equip us well to deal with the challenges as they arise,” Maritz says. “A crucial part of managing a project to successful completion is also the appointment of quality selected sub-contractors. Our broad network and experience of the best service providers is therefore a valuable asset in a fast track project like this.”

Maritz highlights that a vital factor in maintaining the pace of a project is the ability to foresee potentially time consuming delays.

“An important consideration is always compliance to South African National Standards (SANS) specifications,” he says. “There are even relatively minor issues that can have significant impact on the schedule. We are therefore slightly up-sizing the fire escapes, for instance, to make sure our final result is always well within spec.”

Stairs for fire escapes will also be completed ‘off-shutter’ to reduce the time and resources associated with final granolithic treads and risers. The use of unitised panels for the buildings’ façades will also reduce the need for façade scaffolding, as these units can be installed from the inside.

Another innovation on the project will be to install the reinforcing of basement columns to a height that spans two levels at a time. This allows a more efficient process of shuttering and pouring columns, that will further contribute to the pace of the project.

CONCOR COMPLETES ON SCHEDULE AT OXFORD PARKS

The visionary Oxford Parks development in Rosebank, Johannesburg, has seen its first building completed by Concor Buildings for the new head office of BPSA, one of the country’s largest oil companies. Significantly, the building has achieved a 4 Star Green Rating in terms of the GBCSA standards.

According to Chris Maritz, contract manager at Concor Buildings, the building is part of Phase 1 of the Oxford Parks vision, which will include three more office blocks and a hotel. Work began in August 2017 for client Intaprop, and BPSA staff relocated to the new space in December 2018. The tight schedule of less than 16 months meant careful planning, implementation and monitoring, with 300 to 350 employees and contractors on site at the project’s peak.

“This is the first building in a large mixed-use development that will roll out a substantial part of the residential area between Jellicoe Avenue and Bompas Road in Rosebank,” says Maritz. “The construction of this first part of Phase 1 comprises three basement levels of about 28,000 m2 and six office levels with a gross leasable area (GLA) of 8,100 m2, as well as 960 m2 of retail space on the ground floor.”

Concor Buildings was required by the client to take the building to tenant fit-out stage, and delivered complete office floors except for loose furniture and IT equipment. The handover of floors – as they were completed – began in October 2018.

The attractive wedge-shape design is notable for its stunning glass facades, created with 4,500 m2 of glazing. This design enhances the wellbeing of the building’s users allowing ample fresh air, particularly unimpeded access to external vistas looking east over Johannesburg’s treed suburbs and plenty of natural daylight.

To deal with the sun’s heat through the glazing without overloading the air conditioning system, a couple of innovations have been included. The first is a double-ventilation façade on the front of the building, involving two layers of glazing some 40 centimetres apart. The outside layer is open at the bottom and at the top, allowing air to rise and exit this vertical channel as it heats, sucking in cooler air at the bottom and keeping the building cool.

The second innovation is the installation of automated horizontal blinds which are linked to a weather station. Guided by the season and time of day, the angle of the blinds controls the entry of direct light into building, further promoting energy efficiency.

The main structure of the building – which consumed about 17,000 m3 of concrete reinforced by 2,100 tonnes of reinforcing – was complete by the end of April 2018.

Concrete for the slabs was pumped to the required locations, while vertical elements like columns and lift shafts were poured by bucket from a crane; from first pour to completion of the concrete works was just seven months.

Wet trades such as brickwork and plastering were mostly completed by the end of May, with some 780,000 bricks laid by the end of the project. Finishing trades were underway by June, followed by services installation on all the floors.

Being located directly above and near the Gautrain tunnel posed particular challenges for the design of foundations for the building’s basement.

“Foundations were not conventional piling and pile caps but were raft foundations due to the restriction zones working above the Gautrain tunnel,” says Maritz.

Adding to this complication were the highly collapsible soils which, in the case of rain, could have fallen into the foundation trenches. Given the large amount of steel reinforcing required in the raft foundations, the recovery of collapsed trenches could have become costly and time-consuming.

“Excavations started in August 2017, but we mitigated the rainfall risk by fast tracking this phase and we were able to complete the foundations almost a month ahead of schedule, before any heavy rains arrived,” he says.

Being a residential area, there was also a restriction on working hours due to noise, meaning that work had to stop every day by 18h00 and on Saturdays by 14h00. No work was permitted on Sundays.

“This made it necessary, for instance, to conduct our large concrete pours promptly in the morning, so that there was time to complete the slab before the end of the working day and limit the noise to floating activities,” he says.

Maritz emphasises that good planning, time sensitivity and efficiency were all the order of the day in keeping the project’s timeline on track. This included installing the glass facades in good time as several tasks, like finishing trades, could only be finalised when the building was fully enclosed.