Wednesday, 14 September 2016 07:10

Saflok 410: Eco-Friendly Choice for Redeveloped Tramways Building

2014 - The dilapidated old Tramways building outside the Port Elizabeth Harbour was transformed into a stunning development incorporating an eco-friendly rooftop garden, restaurant, environmentally conscious tenants and unique local artwork.Plans and artists' impressions for the revamp of the 116-year-old building were released by the Mandela Bay Development Agency. The development was divided into two phases, but the main first phase was renovation of the building.

The restored building houses the new MBDA offices and an "environmentally conscious" anchor tenant. Two large halls that were once used to house the off-duty coaches have been restored to their original magnificence and are being utilised for local conferences, exhibitions and workshops. Provision has been made for a restaurant and a catering school and MBDA architect Dorelle Sapere said art would be one of the key aspects.

She said the footprint and shell of the double-storey building had been retained, with brick and timber windows in place of steel to honour what it once was, a working bus shed, but modern materials have been used where appropriate. Upstairs there is a grassed rooftop terrace with green vegetation walls. 

The approach to the upgrade of the building was to redevelop it taking into account the building's heritage status as well as proximity to the Baakens Valley. The exterior of the building, particularly on the Baakens Street and Lower Valley Road side, was restored to its original design.

Sapere said phase two of the development was to include a pedestrian bridge and cycle paths, linking the Tramways building to Bridge Street as well as to the northern bank of the Baakens River.

One of the MBDA's primary objectives is to bring people to the urban and historical heart of the city. This is achieved through promoting the historical significance of an area, creating art, culture and leisure focal points and by improving the infrastructure.

Pierre Voges chief executive officer' said the redevelopment of the building was much more than just the development of the building itself."It will be a catalyst for the redevelopment of the Baakens Valley from its present industrial use to a non-industrial use, such as residential, office, tourism and leisure and entertainment''

"It is this area of development in Nelson Mandela Bay that is not well-developed and most of the potential economic growth mostly lies in this sector."He said the allocation of land for a marina commercial development in the port by Transnet linked well with the MBDA overall approach.

"Development of the marina, the Tramways development and success story around the Bridge Street Brewery will provide a catalyst for non-industrial development that will significantly contribute to the city's employment, Gross Domestic Product , rates and tourism base."