The Waterfall mixed-use precinct, situated between Johannesburg and Pretoria, is the largest urban concept development in South Africa. At the initial announcement of the project, many people were skeptical whether this project will be viable. More than five years down the line 22 property developments have been secured thus far, 11 of which are already completed, and the balance scheduled to be completed over the next 20 months.
The Cell C head-office campus was custom-built for the cellular network operator and is the largest property investment already completed at Waterfall in December 2013. The 44,200sqm campus with a value of R770 million features offices and a distribution warehouse.
The Group 5 head-office, valued at R500 million on completion in January 2014, spans 25,500sqm and is the first building in Waterfall to receive a Green Star SA rating from the Green Building Council of SA.
Another feather in the cap is the announcement of the development of the new super-regional Mall of Africa that will be an exciting modern landmark for Johannesburg. Mall of Africa's sheer scale, distinctive design, exceptional location and top-notch retail mix puts it at the forefront of retail developments. At 120 000 m², this is South Africa's largest single-phase shopping mall development to date. The R3.5-billion, two-level mall is set to start trading in April 2016.
To date 50,000m³ of concrete have been cast with 7,300 tons of reinforcing. The structure is now very visible from the highway with about 1,200 construction workers and professionals on site working hard to make the project deadlines.
Mall of Africa combines the latest international trends and environmentally sustainable materials and technologies. Its design was informed by the New Urbanism principles of walkable, mixed-use environments to create a truly cutting-edge shopping centre. The main idea was to focus on being uniquely South Africa, which is visible in the use of wood, stone, glass, concrete and other natural materials. The mall's centre court takes inspiration from the forests of central Africa. Its other four courts reflect the four points of the compass on the African continent: the great lakes in the east, the oil and trade of the west, the sand of the north African desert and the mineral wealth of southern Africa.
This project offered some interesting geotechnical challenges as the underlying geological profile of the 16,5 hectare footprint of the mall site comprises soft to very hard rock granites with intrusions of diabase in places. Residual soils have developed from the weathering of the granites and diabase bedrock with overlying transported hillwash of varying depths and an abundance of subsoil groundwater was in places.
This resulted in the upfront profiling of the granite bedrock to minimise the amount of hard rock excavations. The soil conditions proved far more challenging than expected, therefore, the project doubled in size.
Despite the challenges developers are positive that deadlines will be met and that the Mall of Africa will be ready to start trading early next year.
The success so far of this, the biggest private sector property project to date in South Africa, has clearly shown that in terms of design, size and complexity South African Engineers are able to deliver cutting edge, big scale project on time and with sustainable practices in place.
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