Location: Durban, South Africa
Program: Mixed-Use, Residential, Retail
Client: XIV WORLD FORESTRY CONGRESS
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations
Built Area: 12,000 m2
Research area: Tall Wood Structure
Sustainability and cost efficiency go hand in hand. Not only a result of using renewable low-carbon footprint materials, they are achieved through efficient/sustainable processes. The approach to designing this processes also takes social factors into consideration.
We have explored bringing together a number of existing building systems and materials in a new way. The timber beam and column structure with timber core is proven to perform similar to the equivalent concrete system, while the structure is much lighter and has significantly lower carbon footprint. However there are two questions to be addressed employing the timber tower construction method. One is the lateral stiffness and the other being the cladding system.
Our proposal is a modular space-grid envelope system which addresses both issues plus added benefits. The skin structure act as a strong lateral bracing body and provides structural frame for modular cladding panels. It filters the sun, providing comfort and reducing operating costs. The modular façade system is considerably inexpensive to build and easy to maintain. It is aesthetically pleasant and familiar to the local visual culture of South Africa.
The façade paneling system is primarily made of timber products and by-products [except for glazing, fasteners and chemical treatments]. Modules offer lots of flexibility in solid/transparency ratio and pattern. However, the façade integrity remains intact. The space-grid and the triangular panel format are the ultimate perceived visual composers. The solid/transparency ratio can be adjusted according to sun orientation and budget.
The system is designed to minimize on-site construction errors. Components are prefabricated in shop environment and assembled on-site. Quality is controlled and project coordination is simple. Waste is minimized. Management and overhead costs are lowered. The construction process and later on the building maintenance processes are sustainable. With basic training, job opportunities are created for the ordinary labour force.
Programming is simple and effective. At street level small commercial units create a vibrant urban street corner in an area that is bound by a taxi station, railway and two highways. These units will benefit from the regular resident customers and neighbors. A large shaded public plaza is linked to this array of shops. The courtyard plaza functions as a small day market from 10:00am to 4:00pm and transforms to extra parking space at evening. The double function of plaza utilizes the resources to further animate this urban junction as well as generating some revenue for the building operation costs.