With low growth in the South African economy, there is a trend in both the commercial office and industrial property sectors towards consolidation and the relocation of existing operations to well-connected locations, says consulting engineering firm Arup.
As there is not always enough demand for the vacated premises, Arup is also seeing increasing interest in changes of use to residential or hotel accommodation, either as conversions of existing office buildings or as demolition and rebuild.
Arup associate Richard Lawson notes that, while this is a common trend internationally, South African developers are having to work more creatively to make their projects a success, owing to the country’s low economic growth rate in comparison with other emerging economies.
An example of the type of operational consolidation he refers to, is multinational professional services provider PwC’s new South African headquarters. Arup is providing the structural, façade, wet services, transport and civil engineering for this iconic twisting tower in Johannesburg for investment company Attacq and architect LYT Architecture.
“The new offices will consolidate staff from PwC’s four existing Gauteng locations in 45 000 m2 of premium office space at the heart of Waterfall City, while providing a landmark for the city’s development that is clearly visible on the skyline,” Lawson explains.
The project also showcases the use of digital software, such as parametric modelling, highlighting how this can improve the volume of materials required – benefiting the construction budget and the project’s sustainability credentials.
Lawson adds that virtual design is helping redefine design performance, with Arup’s use of building information modelling realising advancements in whole-life operational efficiency and in attractive, productive environments.
Arup’s work on the Waterfall City tower building that will house PwC saw it awarded joint winner in the Professional Services category at the Construction World Best Projects 2016 Awards, held in October, in New York.
Arup has worked on more than 20 000 projects and developments in Africa, providing multidisciplinary engineering, planning, project management, transaction advice and sustainability consulting services.