LSF STANDING TALL

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Base Architects and Associates have recently completed a new Head Office for Spectacle Warehouse in Faerie Glen, Pretoria, South Africa, using the Light Steel Frame Building construction method. Base Architects have worked with Light Steel Frame for some years now and this was a perfect project, due to the building having to be on stilts, to create a light weight structure. Futurecon, a South African leader in Light Steel Frame construction were the contractors.

The new head office for Spectacle Warehouse in Pretoria was constructed completely out of Light Steel Frame and cladding. The project represents the company’s first standalone building; previously all stores were within a ‘value mart’ setting. The client required the building to represent their identity and be a strong enough architectural statement to ensure that regular feet through the door was maintained.

“When the client approached us, with the land already purchased and asked us design a new
store of 500 metre-squared plus on what was originally a small residential site, the challenges were immediately apparent,” say Base Architects. “How could we possibly fit the amount of parking required by municipal regulations, in total amounting to 30 bays, on a very small site?” The design solution was to place the building on stilts to allow for the parking on ground level and then elevate the building to maximize its exposure to passers-by. “The architecture as a whole is quite striking, however, the building being on silts has brought another dimension to its aesthetic,” notes Darren Ogden from Base Architects.

“As architects we are continuously searching for better innovative ways to build. We have worked
with light frame steel for some years now and this was a perfect project, due to the building having to be on stilts, to create a light weight structure. From our experience, using light frame steel in the correct way, allows for speedier construction times, much cleaner works due to very little wastage, a better result in thermal and sound insulation, in all a far more environmentally aware building which costs less than conventional methods,” they say.

Mitchell Walker explains that Light Steel Frame buildings, when designed properly, are a sustainable solution, while great thermal and sound insulation initiatives were implemented. “Furthermore, rain water harvesting and borehole water solutions were included along with LED lighting. As with any design, good environmental considerations were a must for this project, and the light frame steel system was conducive to this. The result is a building which is responsible to the environment it is in. Furthermore, the site, which is in a belt between residential and commercial zoning (the site was previously was a residential dwelling), had to be considerate to the neighbouring properties.

“Once the rezoning and municipal approvals were overcome, which saw some interesting objections from the municipality due to using a generally unknown building technique/method (and many hours assisting with educating the decision makers in the approval process) the building process ran incredibly smoothly,” says Darren Ogden. He points out that the entire team working on the project (which was built in under six months) needs to be complemented on their great work.

“Looking back, this has certainly been one of our most successful projects, due to the fact that with a very tight budget and timeline the project was achieved within both allocations,” say Base Architects. “We have been informed by the client that they are so pleased with the end result that they plan to roll out the same building as their generic for all their other stores country wide.”

Light Steel Frame building is not a new concept as it has been used in the United States and Australia successfully for many years. “While relatively new in South Africa we believe this will be the preferred building technique in years to come. We have worked on various projects and techniques/methods over the years and with anything that is new and innovative, there have
been some learning processes. We are very proud of this project as all these learning processes
are evident in this building. We encourage all who have an interest on the possibilities that can be achieved with this system in both the commercial and residential areas to visit the building. We hope that this project can assist in changing the public perception of what can be achieved in LFS,” says Mitchell Walker.

About Base Architects and Associates

Base Architects and Associates are an innovative multi-faceted design team that have been working together since 2005. As a team they have tackled some very challenging and interesting projects all over the world. From stadiums to casino’s, hotels to small residential projects, office parks to coffee shops they have been fortunate to work on some great projects. It is their mission to continuously discover the undiscovered. Their research on innovation, and application of this in their buildings is apparent.

About Futurecon

Futurecon is the South African leader in Light Steel Frame construction. They offer turnkey services within the residential, commercial, and institutional markets. As a green building solution, light steel building is not only faster than traditional building methods but also stronger, more thermally efficient as well as more cost effective. Futurecon offers the entire spectrum of construction services, including architectural support, detailed shop drawing design, structural engineering, full project management and onsite turnkey construction. They also o er in-house product and software research, marketing and sales and full property development. They have over 16 years’ experience in Light Steel Frame construction, working in both North America and southern Africa and have been actively building in South Africa since 2010.

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