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Conscious Living – The Building Blocks For A Sustainable Future

Why adaptive reuse? The restructuring of Johannesburg’s inner-city industry over the last few decades has resulted in a glut of obsolete industrial sites. 

Often conveniently located in urban centres, their renovation through adaptive reuse can alleviate the problem of housing shortage, minimise negative impact on the environment, and allow for the protection of our historical legacy. Perhaps most importantly, the regeneration of obsolete urban areas sets the stage for vibrant city life to thrive again.

New Braamfontein Lofts is a shining example of one such development.

Three years in the making, it is the passion project of Architype Architects’ husband and wife team, Jonathan and Lorien Gimpel, and recently their daughter Ariella. Together with the Blend Family they make up Danaug Investments, a company whose 15 years of experience have made urban renewal projects their forte and reason.

The defunct Telkom warehouses bordering Vrededorp made the perfect foundation for this reimagined urban oasis and became a key part of the residential development projects in the precinct, adding over 300 units for up to 1000 individuals living together along a shared green belt. This green belt, a treasured rarity for inner-city living, acts as a connection point for all residents across the site.

Adaptive reuse in practice

A core focus of the project was to minimise the environmental impact whilst retaining the buildings’ integrity. “Over the three-year construction period we did not remove one load of building rubble from site and only 3 bins of scrap steel were taken to a recycling plant. All building rubble was recycled into building material or filling”, explains Jonathan Gimpel proudly.

Tens of thousands of bricks have been cleaned and re-used from the demolished buildings. All concrete removed from existing buildings was crushed on-site and repurposed into aggregate and building sand. This was then mixed with cement to produce all the new concrete floors, as well as two new 4-story concrete staircases and walkways for Building Six. 

Most of the steel window frames were manufactured at the on-site workshop by recycling and modifying existing frames. Original water pipes were used to create towel and curtain rails; and the mentis grating and balustrades from elevated walkways were remodelled into gates and new balustrades. Alternative energy is also used throughout in the form of gas geysers and hobs, solar geysers, insulation and LED lighting.

The vision becomes a reality

The original buildings – an office block, workshop, factory and warehouse were metamorphosed into a versatile new hub of 88 units ranging from single storey studios to one, two- and three-bedroom lofts and penthouses.

Building 4 –  A double storey concrete frame with a regular grid. Balconies and gardens were added to bring light and ventilation. Vertical ducts and horizontal central corridors were created to divide the space and run the services.

Building 5 – Architype embraced the second building’s soaring volume and designed mezzanine loft areas, skylights and north facing units with courtyards.

Building 6 – Three more stories have been added to the third building, now a majestic presence with sweeping views of the green belt and city. This building’s existing structure and grid informed the design, allowing for bigger units and penthouses

Building 7 – A distinctive 3000m2 industrial factory with a sawtooth roof, became the foundation for the spacious, split-level two bedroom + study/guest room units. Exposed beams, chimneys and exhaust stacks reveal a preserved industrial spirit. The commanding entrance to this building opens to an engaging communal indoor/outdoor courtyard space with tranquil water feature.

Interiors embody modern artisanal styling, blending natural materials with skillful refinement. Expansive windows pour light over the subtle textures and warm metals creating an inviting interior. The result is a cleverly realised space that is inspiring and functional, stylish and chic with beautifully curated rugged details. 

Partnering with Runrite Construction, a well-versed leader in the practises of adaptive reuse, the developers were able to consciously convert their grand vision into a sound reality.

How does adaptive reuse benefit you?

In the hopes of setting up a voluntary City Improvement District, the developers are working together with the city, businesses and residents of Fietas and Braamfontein, to effect upgrades to security, sidewalks and public amenities in the area. The precinct also falls under the Perth-Empire Corridor of Freedom, which is set to receive targeted investment under the city’s 2040 plans, linking outlying communities to the business nodes.

Conscious living is more than a popular term; it is the solidified basis for a sustainable future. With that being said the direct benefits of developments following such principles include;

  1. Reduced carbon footprint 
  2. Reduced environmental waste & pollution
  3. Reduced energy consumption
  4. Encouraging principals of recycling
  5. Preserved & unique aesthetics

New Braamfontein Lofts embodies these principals and hopes that others will follow in their footsteps to ultimately create a city of sustainable living.  

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