Trendy space for stu­dents

Michelle Funke looks at the Silo Precinct in New­town, which is set to take on a new iden­tity

Business Day - Home Front - - HOME FRONT -

RE­CENT prop­erty trans­ac­tions saw Ci­tiq pur­chase two sets of grain si­los in New­town. The si­los, which have long been part of the Joburg sky­line to the west of the M1 high­way, were orig­i­nally used to store grain and owned by the Pre­mier Milling group. While they have been unused for decades, Ci­tiq plans to trans­form th­ese con­crete pipes into trendy stu­dent apart­ments.

This fol­lows the com­pany’s iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the stu­dent mar­ket as a strate­gic growth area. “The de­mand for qual­ity stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion is enor­mous,” says Paul Lapham, CEO of Ci­tiq. “We plan to be­come a mean­ing­ful provider of stu­dent ac­com­moda- tion by fo­cus­ing on com­pact, con­ve­nient and se­cure ac­com­mo­da­tion that gives stu­dents a real taste of var­sity life.”

Ci­tiq has a proven track record in prop­erty in­vest­ment and man­age­ment and man­ages a prop­erty port­fo­lio in ex­cess of 120 build­ings and R1.2bn across Gaut­eng. More re­cently the group has be­come known for its in­no­va­tive con­struc­tion projects ex­per­i­ment­ing with more cost-ef­fec­tive build­ing meth­ods. It was re­spon­si­ble for build­ing the first res­i­den­tial apart­ment block in the coun­try that was made al­most en­tirely from re­cy­cled ship­ping con­tain­ers. This pro­ject has helped to re­de­fine SA’s per­cep­tions of af­ford­able ac­com­mo­da­tion and the use of al­ter­na­tive build­ing tech­niques, with the ship­ping con­tainer units be­ing fully rented out in two days.

“The silo pro­ject may seem like a de­par­ture from what we did with ship­ping con­tain­ers, but in re­al­ity it is driven by the same pri­or­i­ties: to make avail­able qual­ity ac­com­mo­da­tion in the city at af­ford­able prices,” says Lapham.

The si­los en­able Ci­tiq to do this while cater­ing for the de­mand that ex­ists for stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion around the Univer­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg and the Wits cam­puses.

“Stu­dents in gen­eral find them­selves at the cut­ting edge of style and de­sign and are not afraid to try some­thing new. The cir­cu­lar shape of the grain si­los en­ables us to cre­ate an ap­peal­ing en­vi­ron­ment that is dif­fer­ent to the dor­mi­tory style ac­com­mo­da­tion avail­able at most res­i­dences.”

Con­struc­tion on the first of the two si­los started at the be­gin­ning of the year with the pro­ject sched­uled to be com­pleted by the end of the year, in time for the stu­dent in­take next year.

Says Arthur Blake, MD of Ci­tiq’s De­vel­op­ment Di­vi­sion: “Th­ese 10 large con­crete 6m di­am­e­ter pipes go up 10 floors, and will be con­verted into trendy cir­cu­lar apart­ments. The walls are al­ready there, and all that is re­quired are floors and ceil­ings, and spa­ces cut for doors and win­dows. The si­los were built in the 1960s and were in­tended to store 35m of grain in each pipe. The struc­ture is ex­tremely sound, with 18cm thick walls, mak­ing them more than ad­e­quate to bear the weight of the units. One of the pipes will be used as stair­case with a lift shaft and a fire es­cape. An­other will be used to cre­ate 10 floors for study ar­eas, li­braries, lounges, com­puter rooms and recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties. Two more si­los will house the bath­rooms and kitchens for each floor.

“The ac­com­mo­da­tion will not only be func­tional and at­trac­tive, but will also be cost-ef­fec­tive be­cause of the re­use of the ex­ist­ing struc­ture. On each floor there will be 12 apart­ments, with a mix of sin­gle bed and dou­ble shar­ing bed­rooms, as well as com­mu­nal kitchens and bath­rooms. In to­tal 320 stu­dents will be housed. An ex­tra two storeys, made from ship­ping con­tain­ers, will be added to the top of the build­ing with sin­gle bed­rooms and recre­ational ar­eas where stu­dents can get to­gether to so­cialise and en­joy the panoramic views of the city. The use of ship­ping con­tain­ers builds on what we learned with our ship­ping con­tainer apart­ment block, and will com­ple­ment the in­dus­trial look and feel of the ex­te­rior de­sign while mak­ing avail­able more space for recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Con­struc­tion on the sec­ond set of si­los, also in New­town, is to start dur­ing the course of next year and should be com­pleted within 12 months. Ne­go­ti­a­tions are un­der way to pur­chase a num­ber of build­ings in the precinct.

The new shop­ping mall and of­fice de­vel­op­ment be­tween the Mar­ket Theatre and Carr Street, within walk­ing dis­tance, will be an added at­trac­tion. “We see th­ese de­vel­op­ments adding value to the de­mand for res­i­den­tial ac­com­mo­da­tion in the area,” says Blake.

An ar­chi­tect’s ren­di­tion of the smaller silo in New­town, Jo­han­nes­burg af­ter be­ing con­verted into stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion.

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