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Creating spaces to… collaborate

A successful collaboration between LEAF Structures, Redefine Properties and SVA architects to breathe new life into existing spaces with a sustainable design and new materials.

Sustainable design has become integral for the longevity of buildings. In South Africa, this trend is growing, with architects and engineers focusing on using alternative materials, design concepts and uses to offset the pressure on precious natural capital. In fact, implementing green building practices, even in redevelopment, aligns companies with the bigger picture of climate change mitigation.

The team at LEAF Structures understand this well and have been key partners in the recent redevelopment of Benmore Gardens, offering a custom-engineered, design-build solution that provided significant uplift, while contributing positively to the environmental sustainability of the building.

Indeed, Andrew Spottiswoode, managing director of LEAF Structures, is passionate about the cohabitation of the natural and built environment.
“When we start incorporating nature into buildings, focusing on design principles that respect nature, as well as the human beings that occupy them – these are the buildings that people want to be in, the ones that can boast both popularity and longevity.”

Thembakazi Mdlopane, LEAF Structures’ business development director, agrees that this is the direction that professionals who work in developing the built environment must pursue to address the evolving way people use real estate.
“Buildings now show higher levels of integration, with the boundaries between work and leisure increasingly blurred. Work, live and play must all be integrated into a single, mixed–use building. Moreover, people are also choosing to work, shop and spend time in places that have a positive impact on their wellbeing and are increasingly interested in its impact on the environment, too.”

Meeting these requirements when looking at redeveloping an existing building is no easy feat. Focusing on the potential big wins on specific elements of the building is often the way forward. And this is exactly what the LEAF Structures team, in collaboration with many other likeminded professionals – including our Redefine team – provided in their work on Benmore Gardens, where they went about breathing fresh life into the existing structure through the use of innovate cladding materials.

Through extensive engagement, the team decided on using Ethylene Tetra Fluoro Ethylene (ETFE) as the cladding material. Alongside its low weight, the major benefit of ETFE is its high translucency, transmitting up to 95% of light. The longevity of the material is, however, unaffected by UV light, as well as atmospheric pollution and other forms of environmental weathering, making it an extremely durable material.

ETFE also scores well on the ecofriendly front, being 100% recyclable, and requiring minimal energy for transportation and installation means that it makes a significant contribution to the move towards green construction and sustainability.