As the extensive upgrade of the William Nicol highway, north of Fourways in Johannesburg takes shape, the superb siting of Auto & General Park can be fully appreciated. In full view of the highway, the dramatic porte-cochère of this new building reaches out to the Helderfontein Spruit. The striking yet eco-friendly development is home to Telesure Investment Holdings, part of an international financial services group that houses leading insurance brands in South Africa, including Auto & General Insurance, 1st for Women Insurance, Dial Direct Insurance, Budget Insurance and direct life insurance provider ILife, which were previously in six dispersed separate buildings throughout Gauteng.
Main contractor for this prestige project was Aveng Grinaker-LTA, while Lafarge South Africa, the local presence of the international Lafarge Group, a world leader in building materials, was the cement supplier for this landmark development. Reflecting the huge trend to urbanisation taking place throughout the world, the Group recently repositioned its global Lafarge brand and adopted the new brand baseline ‘Building better cities'. It embodies Lafarge's vision to contribute solutions for building cities that are more beautiful, more durable, better connected and are more desirable, sustainable living environments for all people.
"For the construction of Auto & General Park we supplied 5 100 tons of our versatile premium technical cement, Powercrete Plus CEM II 42,5R," says Lafarge South Africa's, Mike Fisher, Infrastructure Road & Rail Development Manager. "We are also supplying our specialised cementitious binder, RoadCem CEM II 32,5N, for soil stabilisation on the nearby major upgrade of the William Nicol Highway."
Lafarge takes pride in carrying out customer needs analyses to enable it to offer better value, high quality building solutions based on its wide range of innovative products and services. Powercrete Plus was the preferred cement solution for this project, both for its all-round high performance and for its lower carbon footprint. Its unique formulation also allowed it to be enhanced further with classified fly ash from Ash Resources in the on-site batch plant to provide cost-effective, customised concrete mixes to meet the various structural requirements. The innovative Lafarge fly ash formulation also contributed to achieving quality finishes, which was a significant factor in the extensive use of architectural off-shutter concrete features in the building.
The 24 000 m² building comprises four separate double storey office blocks sharing superb facilities and landscaping. Arranged to follow the steep natural contours of the site, the blocks are aligned so that the major façades have north and south orientations to take optimal advantage of natural lighting and thermal benefits. The riverside blocks are two storeys below the northern two, maximising the views for the occupants across the Spruit and contributing to the prime exposure to the William Nicol highway.
The design of Auto & General Park was developed from the beginning with input from an environmental consultant and the City of Johannesburg's Environmental Management Department. In particular, this ensured that the positioning of the structure on the site incorporated a suitable buffer zone between it and the determined wetland delineation line. The structure itself incorporates fundamental energy and water conservation principles in the form of insulated concrete roofs, rainwater harvesting, double glazing on the ‘cold' southern façades, and sophisticated air conditioning controlled by a computerised Building Management System to maximise fresh air and comfort for the building's occupants, while optimising energy consumption.
When the Auto & General Park project decided to upgrade one of the major floor slabs, Lafarge South Africa was able to contribute to the solution by providing 155 m³ of its unique high performance self-consolidating concrete, AgiliaTM. Readily achieving a compressive strength of 50 MPa, the product's high fluidity allows it to completely fill all spaces in formwork while remaining homogeneous. A key challenge to thickening and strengthening the existing slab was the restricted access, which was overcome by pumping AgiliaTM into holes drilled through the slab.
"Lafarge's products provided the assurance of high quality and gave us good results," commented Aveng's Contract Manager, Mario Lopes. "The company's delivery service was extremely reliable - we were never kept waiting for cement, which was important when carrying out some of the large pours on this project. Also, Lafarge was always available to provide help whenever we needed it."
NOTES TO EDITORS
A world leader in building materials, Lafarge employs 64,000 people in 62 countries, and posted sales of €15.2 billion in 2013. As a top-ranking player in its Cement, Aggregates and Concrete businesses, it contributes to the construction of cities around the world, through its innovative solutions providing them with more housing and making them more compact, more durable, more beautiful, and better connected. With the world's leading building materials research facility, Lafarge places innovation at the heart of its priorities in order to contribute to more sustainable construction and to better serve architectural creativity.
In South Africa, the company manufactures and supplies cement, aggregates, readymixed concrete, gypsum plasterboard and interior building fittings. It focuses on providing solutions to help the sustainable development of better cities that benefit the country's people. Through having a strong presence in all of its business lines, it is in a unique position to contribute to urban construction, while also helping to build better cities, rural towns and villages.
Lafarge South Africa also demonstrates active concern for the conservation of the country's wildlife heritage and is a major supporter of the world's first dedicated baby rhino orphanage in Limpopo Province.
Additional information is available on the website at www.lafarge.co.za
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