What is the purpose of the structure/ project?

The restoration and re-purposing of the historical South End ‘Row Houses’ is to house the new Momsen and Two Wheels Trading head office.  Momsen is the leading mountain bike brand in South Africa and wished to be housed back within the ‘Baakens Valley’ where it all began for them as a brand. The existing ‘Row Houses’ would service the office and retail components with a new warehouse building the rear, serving as the distribution and bulk storage component.

What was the brief to the architect?

The building owner required a design that would retain the essence and rhythm of the historical elements that faced the street.  This needed to inform the design and massing of the warehouse and retail components.  It was important to satisfy all Heritage requirements, yet at the same time create a building that, planning wise, would best serve the tenant, i.e Momsen Bikes and Two Wheels Trading.

Was the project envisaged in steel from the start? If not – why was it built in steel in the end?

Yes.  The warehouse form and need for free span could only be done best in steel.

Give a brief description of the structural framing. What type of sections were used (e.g. hollow, cellular, I beams etc) and why?

The warehouse was broken down into 4 pitched sections to that drew inspiration from the adjacent 4 dominant Row Houses. The warehouse, however, was orientated perpendicular to this so as not to overpower the smaller houses along the street. The warehouse’s main portal structure is formed using I-beam and columns of varying sizes.  Lipped channels then span the portal frame bays.

Give a brief description of the cladding process (complexity, difficulty, innovation etc)

The structural frame was clad in Saflok sheeting both for the roof and vertical side walling.  The 4 pitches that form the warehouse, although of the same height, varied in depth that further broke the scale of the building down. This posed complexities where the vertical cladding elements as the sheeting needed to seamlessly travel down from the roof into the wall, yet allow for neat flashing and valley gutter detailing.

Were there any challenges in the fabrication of the project from the engineer’s design – if yes, please tell? Tell more about fabrication and erection process if it was complex, difficult, innovative etc.

The only challenge was to translate our Architectural ideas to both the Contractor and Engineer.  Although the warehouse is fairly simple in terms of fabrication it was crucial, through the use of 3D’s, to make sure the contractor and engineer understood the detail between steelwork and cladding elements.  Many additional items, such as cleats, hanging brackets and the like were introduced specifically to allow for easy and interpretation of the cladding which would form the overall aesthetic of the building.

What is special/ unusual/ innovative/ aesthetic about the steelwork/cladding
in this project?

For DMV Architecture the seed idea was simple. The rhythm of the ‘four’ Row Houses were replicated within the ‘four’ apposing warehouse forms.  These were intentionally a play-off on the number and rhythm of the four houses, yet were positioned perpendicular to them.  It was our opinion that if placed in the same line of the house gables, the warehouse would dominate the residential scale. In placing them juxtaposed, it helped create each owns identity and purpose.  Further to this, the original Row Houses, which terminated in gable ends as part of their vernacular routes, were again juxtaposed and the warehouse adopted a roof that would precede the gable ends opposite to that of the vernacular.  In doing so each one’s identity complimented the other and reinforced their unity.

To the West, the warehouse as a gesture is set back from the boundary to allow the full extent of the first Row House to stand proud as one approaches the building down Upper Valley Road.  This first house retains its original identity by keeping the lean-to to the rear (full extent of original house) and direct access off the street with steps and inter-leading balcony.  With security being an issue within the valley the client naturally wished that no other house is accessed off the street and that the steps be removed so as to reduce the risk of break-ins.  The existing internal floor level is raised from the natural ground level externally so it made sense for the steps to not allow intruders the ability to view inside the new office space.  It was fundamental though to retain the memory of the original steps and main entry to the houses.  It was decided to therefore re-introduce the steps by making use of a thickened plaster to mimic their form in the same plane as the buildings plinth.  The original entry to the balconies were also enclosed but painted, together with the ‘steps’ in a deep grey to further highlight this memory.  To the East the showroom, which too was once an original house, yet detached and not as significant as the Row Houses, was remodelled to take on the same footprint yet in a sheeted contemporary manner with the showrooms framed shop fronts linking back to the houses.  The vertical sheeting also was a play off on the tin sheet cladding of the original.  The gap between the original detached house and fourth Row House was naturally an axis upon which to slide into upon entry and helped establish a break between the internal functioning of the new development, that being office to the Row Houses and Showroom to the detached house.

How did the project team work together (e.g contractor involved early, challenges/ ease of communication etc.)

For us communication is key. The use of 3D information provided to all role players helped ease the communication flow and reduction in errors and or time delays on site.

Tons of structural steel used 38.6 tons
Structural profiles used I-Beams/Lipped Channels
Cladding profile/ type used Saflok + Corrugated
Cladding area/ coverage and tonnage Saflok 1309m2 | Corrugated 350m2

Project Team

Project Team Role Company
Nominator Safintra
Client/ Developer Gary Erasmus Trust
Architect Dmv Architecture
Structural Engineer Poise Consulting Engineers
Engineer Poise Consulting Engineers
Quantity Surveyor N/A
Project Manager Dmv Architecture
Main Contractor Dave Collins Construction
Steelwork Contractor Uitenhage Super Steel
Steel Erector Uitenhage Super Steel
Cladding Manufacturer Safintra
Cladding Supplier Safintra
Cladding Contractor Ceiling Master
Corrosion Protection
Not provided by nominator
Corrosion Protection
Paintwork Contractor
Not provided by nominator
Photographer, Photo competition Sl Photography
Photographer, Other submitted images Sl Photography

If you were a part of this project, and your company details are incorrect or missing – please notify the SAISC so that the error can be corrected.