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Aug 03, 2012

Seychelles development to benefit youth

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Construction|Engineering|Port|Victoria|Africa|Building|Contractor|Design|Environment|Green Island Construction|PROJECT|Rental|WSP|Africa|Seychelles|South Africa|Espace Building|Port Victoria|Food Court|Services|Steel|Indian Ocean|Brohnsonn Winslow|Indian Ocean
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The design phase of the 6 000 m² Espace mixed-use development in the Seychelles is about 85% complete.

Construction company Green Island Construction, based in the Seychelles, has been appointed to design and construct the building, which is adjacent to the inter island quay at Port Victoria.

The construction company appointed engineering consultancy WSP in October last year to undertake the civil and structural engineering of the project, such as roadworks, parking, bulk earthworks and the structural design of the building, says WSP Espace project manager Brohnsonn Winslow.

WSP is also undertaking preliminary design work on the building services for the contractor.

Espace will feature dance halls, an exhibition studio, a recording studio and a theatre.

The building will also house the offices of nonprofit organisation, the JJ Spirit Foundation, and office rental space on the third and fourth floors. The ground floor will consist of commercial outlets and a food court, says Winslow.

“This development will allow the youth to showcase their talents in an environment where they don’t always get the opportunity to do so,” he points out.

The aim of the Espace development is to create a micro-village where people can access entertainment. The Espace building will have all of the features of a mall but on a smaller scale.

Winslow explains that, while malls are common in South Africa and people have instant access to entertainment facilities, access to such facilities is limited in the Seychelles.

WSP started the initial project design work in November last year and has since progressed with the detailed design of the building.

The JJ Spirit Foundation requested that the building’s architectural features reflect the various cultural backgrounds present in the Seychelles, which is a melting pot of cultures.

“The client wants people to identify with the building.”

In response to this request, the project architect incorporated the various cultures by over-detailing the structure and incor- porating a mix of architectural features.

“There is no clear uniformity from end to end. Architecturally, the building is quite complex in its features,” Winslow adds.

Engineering of the Espace building started towards the end of January after the client approved the concept plan. The detailed application is currently being reviewed by the Seychelles Town and Country Planning Authority.


Challenges
Further, WSP states that procurement is a big challenge in the Seychelles, as all building and design materials have to be imported. This places pressure on the design team to always provide clear and accurate information about the materials needed early in the project to allow for major items to be procured in time.

The firm adds that, as a result of piracy in the Indian Ocean, shipping lines are often delayed or diverted. “The earliest shipped goods arrived three months after they had been ordered.

“This is a part of working in the Seychelles to which we have become accustomed. We communicate our requirements, specifications and details to the contractor at the onset of a project,” says Winslow.

He adds that this makes it difficult to change concepts during the design phase, as contractors have to work with what they have.

“We also tend to design according to a contractor’s ability, rather than according to how we would prefer it to be done. For example, if we prefer a structural steel roof, but the contractor prefers timber, we will design a timber roof, as that is what the contractor is familiar with.”

Meanwhile, WSP says handing over the site to the contractor on June 1 was a big milestone for Green Island Construction, as the site was previously occupied and owned by government.

Construction started at the end of June and is 1% complete in terms of earthworks and site establishment.

Winslow adds that the project is on time, within budget and scheduled for completion by December 2013.

Espace is WSP’s second major commercial development in Port Victoria; the first being the Seychelles Pension Fund development that comprises an 8 000 m2 office development that is nearing completion.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
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