DURBAN developers and architects swept the board with top honours at the recent South African Property Owners’ Association awards in Gauteng.
The annual awards are considered by the industry as the crème de la crème of the commercial property awards in the country. They recognise significant contributions made through innovation and excellence in the property sector.
Durban’s iconic Lion Match factory which is owned and was developed by JT Ross walked away as joint winner in the refurbishment category with the Four Seasons, The Westcliff in Johannesburg and was the heritage category award winner.

The development with its iconic golden lion was then announced the overall winner in the country.

The architects leading the refurbishment of the space, which started in 2013 and was concluded in 2015, were Dean Jay Architects who now have their offices in the mixed use office park.

Key considerations by the adjudicators, who travel from one end of the country to the other assessing the entries, included economic and financial fundamentals, the design concept, community perception of the development, the efficiency of its operation and the services offered, how satisfied tenants are, the standard of workmanship, environmental sustainability of the design, how a range of tenants are accommodated, whether or not the development improves the precinct in which it is built, cost effectiveness, how it has created employment and transformation of the workplace and finally the overall aesthetic and practical impact of the development.
Known for keeping his eye on international developments and the edgy, but sympathetic upgrades of historical buildings, Doug Ross, who owns the Durban company, JT Ross, was intimately involved in the upgrade of the century old Lion Match Factory.

“We made sure the interiors of the existing buildings retained the industrial, factory design with exposed trusses and clerestory lighting. In the new building we made use of the old bricks from the original structure, projecting them to create a relief pattern. The crinkle cut roof was designed in keeping with the existing architecture and to meet the Amafa – the provincial heritage conservation agency – requirements,” Ross said.

There was also critical attention paid to the detail of the environmental efficiency and sustainability of the buildings, which included an ice-storage air-conditioning system to cool the buildings while saving energy, aluminium roof sheeting to cope with proximity to the ocean and to allow for as much natural light as possible. Built on a high water table appropriate landscaping was included to maximise efficient water use was included in the design. Ross said he was pleasantly surprised by the landslide of awards. “We know we are up against the best in the country. For a Durban development to do so well was really fantastic,” he said.

Colleen Dardagan – The Mercury.