For most in the building sector, a project of the sheer magnitude and complexities of the Menlyn Park Reconfiguration Phase 2 project comes once or twice in their lifetime.

Murray & Roberts Buildings has commenced work on the Menlyn Park Reconfiguration Phase 2 project in Pretoria.

The Melrose Arch Piazza construction site was voted one of the safest places to work in Gauteng, winning six safety awards from the Master Builders Association

Construction IndustryAt the annual Gauteng Regional Master Builders Association Safety Awards, Amdec Property Development, a company noted for its construction safety records, won first prize for being the ‘Most Proactive Client’ while the Melrose Arch Piazza Scheme won the safety award in the ‘R500-million plus’ category while Murray and Robert’s site agent Miguel Teixeira was voted the ‘Best Site Agent’ and Murray and Roberts sub contractor Bronsair (Pty) Limited won the ‘Best Sub Contractor’ award. Their safety officer on Melrose Arch Piazza, Paul Smit, was placed third in the Best Safety Officer category.

Other parts of the Melrose Arch precinct were also honoured - the Melrose Arch hotel which also forms a later phase of the Piazza Scheme won the ‘R200-million to R500-million’ category.

Adriaan La Grange, Amdec project manager notes he is proud of the company’s safety record on development projects throughout South Africa: “Our safety record at this site an excellent lost time injury frequency rate of 3.09. This is very good considering we have about 2 500 workers on site at any given time and are facing certain challenges like building close to public areas.”

Amdec has over 20 years of industry experience and a current development portfolio in excess of R4,5 billion ranking it as one of the country’s biggest private property developers.

Amdec is currently responsible for the development of, amongst others, Melrose Arch and is also undertaking the refurbishment of the landmark Consolidated Building in the Johannesburg CBD. In the Cape it is developing the new Virgin Active in Steenberg as well as extending and refurbishing Westlake Lifestyle Village. The luxury retirement lifestyle village Evergreen Muizenberg is another of Amdec’s Cape Projects. In the Eastern Cape, it is undertaking the development of the new mixed-use suburb of Parsonsvlei.

Amdec always has specific and stringent requirements for safety, explains La Grange. “For Amdec, any development is also about the process – it’s not only the outcome but how it is achieved. We believe Melrose Arch Piazza to be one of the most high profile and exciting developments in Africa right now and are committed to get everything right.”

Rui Santos, director of Murray and Roberts, puts it simply: a safe site is a happy and productive site. “This is vital to achieve good production levels and to build quality developments,” says Santos who is positive about the high standards of safety which have been achieved on the site. M&R has always had a proactive safety and unitary culture with commitment from top management which reflects it’s corporate priority.

“We are always aiming to up the standards. Amdec is a particularly proactive client and they take a daily interest in the safety of the site. We work together with an independent safety consultant and have in place a number of safety initiatives for the workers,” notes Santos.

Safety initiatives on the Melrose Arch Piazza site include:
Stop. Think.
This is a system of sign language that ensures clear communication between workers which is effective regardless of language barriers and noise on the site. This is an outreach campaign by M&R to all employees to improve safety awareness and to strive for zero harm in the workplace.

Induction
Prior to any staff member or subcontractor staff member coming on site, they are trained in all aspects of the safety and the rules of the site. In addition to creating the foundation for safety, this also creates a platform for skills transfer, creating a ripple effect and providing hands-on experience in working safety.

Daily ‘Toolbox Talks’
These morning meetings are interactive exchanges between the foreman and team on site. Issues discussed include debriefing the previous day’s work, planning the tasks to be carried out that day and the associated safety elements, as well as discussing the potential risk each activity entails. This also provides an opportunity for all staff to communicate any potential risks which they may have noticed. These forums allow appropriate information and lessons to be shared across the site.

Auditing of subcontractors
Subcontractors are stringently audited before they start on site and these audits are continually revalued during while the subcontractor is undertaking their tasks on site. Contractors are involved in site meetings, audits and incident investigations and are required to report regularly on their safety performance.

Daily risk report
Here potential risks are identified, communicated and addressed immediately to ensure prevention. Near misses are reported daily and investigated as if the event occurred to ensure incidents are not repeated.

High-visibility bibs
This is a Melrose Arch Piazza site specific requirement. They are worn by everyone on site and are a proud statement of the commitment to safety.

Safety incentives
Staff members are given monetary rewards for reporting risks or working safe. Each person is encouraged to take ownership of safety and answer ‘me’ to the questions ‘who is responsible for safety on site?

Safety Training
M&R’s aim is to maintain the highest occupational health and safety standards and safety training plays a major role in an industry where shortage of skills is a huge challenge. Benefits of quality training are reaped by having low accidents and incident rates. The process of managing safety is driven through a continuous improvement cycle so that zero harm is achieved and maintained.



The Melrose Arch Piazza comprises street-level shopping and offices in the successful Melrose Arch mixed-use precinct in northern Johannesburg.

Construction IndustryMelrose Arch is owned by Southern Palace, a joint venture between Amdec Property Development and Property Partners. Amdec is also the appointed development manager for Melrose Arch, driving the roll-out of all development projects on this prestigious mixed-use precinct. The Melrose Arch Piazza Scheme is financed by Nedbank.

Nicholas Stopforth, Melrose Arch Development Company director, explains that the appointment of Murray & Roberts Construction follows the company’s successful involvement in the first-phase construction of the mixed-use precinct.

“Murray & Roberts Construction’s combination of engineering disciplines and expertise will ensure the delivery of world-class solutions to the Melrose Arch Development Company. This is a high-profile project, and as a leading contractor in major retail developments, we are proud to have been appointed as the main contractor,” Colin Steyn, Murray & Roberts Construction director, says.

The Melrose Arch Piazza essentially forms an extension to the existing mixed-use fabric of Melrose Arch, meaning that the new development has to be integrated carefully with the old in terms of matching façades. The office buildings also have to integrate seamlessly with the existing basement parking and above ground open-street movement patterns, with clearly defined public and private domains.

Melrose Arch Piazza comprises nine separate highly individualised buildings with street-level retail and prime office space in the upper levels, located at the northern end of the existing development. There will be 28 000 m2 of retail and leisure space and 31 000 m2 of lettable office space above the retail space. The shopping component is scheduled for completion by Easter 2009, while the office component will be completed a month later.

DHK Architects and Boogertman & Partners, the architects and town planners on the project, state that the attractive, flexible and readily subdivisible office buildings will have varied façades. The urban street edges will be positioned carefully around the new Piazza, which forms the heart of the new precinct.

The architecture of the Piazza, which will have a total footprint of 42 000 m2, will extend the existing ‘contemporary African feel’ of Melrose Arch’s integrated urban fabric. This will be achieved by using First World and natural construction materials.

Commenting on quantities of materials to be used, Rui Santos, Murray & Roberts Construction project director, says the project will consume 50 000 m2 of concrete, 130 000 m2 of slab formwork, 4.5-million bricks, 81 000 m2 of plaster, 11 000 m2 of shopfronts and 10 500 m2 of tiling.

Following a lengthy negotiation process, Murray & Roberts Construction began working in January this year, after four months of bulk earthworks undertaken by Diesel Power. This included removing 250 000 m3 of soil to make way for the new basement parking. It also involved relocating this material to the neighbouring James and Ethel Gray Park as part of a R5-million upgrade sponsored by Melrose Arch.

Murray & Roberts Construction also acquired a brand-new Liebherr readymix batch plant, which was erected on-site and became operational in June. The staffing level will peak at approximately 50 permanent employees, while the labour force is expected to top out at 1 500 to 2 000 workers. A water bowser also operates constantly to minimise dust on the single access road.

In terms of specific project challenges, Santos says initial foundation work encountered a large quantity of rock, which complicated the bases as well as the lift shafts. The Piazza will have about 16 lifts and eight escalators. The presence of rock necessitated blasting and excavating, and trimming with hydraulic hammers fitted to excavators.

“Our quality of work, as well as meeting project deadlines, resulted in us clinching this project,” Santos notes. He explains that initially, during construction of Melrose Arch Phase 1 in 2000, four main contractors were involved with the landmark precinct. “Given the complexity and scope of this project, it is a real testament to our total-solutions capability to be appointed as main contractor on the Melrose Arch Piazza.”

Stopforth reports that the development rollout of Melrose Arch is proceeding well, with over 175 000 m2 of a total of 315 000 m2 in the precinct either built or under construction. First transfers of the sectional title offices at 1 and 3 Melrose Boulevard are expected in August 2007. Construction of Melrose Square on Oak Lane, another development on the Melrose Arch precinct where Murray & Roberts are the appointed main contractor, is already several floors above ground level.

 

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