One block of apartments at Little Manhattan showing the controlled entrance in the foreground that offers residents security.
Corobrik has supplied 1,8 million Moroccan Red travertine face bricks for construction of the award- winning Little Manhattan apartment complex developed by Central Development Projects in Pretoria – with a further 600 000 due to be delivered for completion of the project.
Ockert van Heerden, Corobrik Director of Sales, said that Little Manhattan had raised the bar for the provision of affordable accommodation in South Africa.
He said that the product was selected initially for its durability and the need for little, if any, maintenance, but clay brick – and face brick in particular – also had a “desirability factor” and status which introduced the concept of quality of life into the entry level housing sector.
Van Heerden pointed out that government had raised its expectations of affordable housing to far more than putting roofs over heads and required that these projects enhanced lifestyles and paved the way for those who started out with rental accommodation such as this to ultimately become empowered to the point where they become home owners in their own right.
Affordable, sustainable building
In keeping with government’s vision for affordable housing, Little Manhattan is a blueprint for an integrated human settlement. It is a truly sustainable empowerment project designed specifically to incorporate convenience and accessibility – concepts not ordinarily associated with affordable, rental accommodation.
Little Manhattan’s tenants are mainly single or young families with one or two children. With five schools within walking distance and shopping centres nearby, it is located on a main arterial route into Pretoria’s city centre.
The first three of ten phases of this R2,4 billion project have been completed and 410 units are already occupied. The last units will be handed over in July this year, bringing the total number to 1600.
Van Heerden believes that the success of projects such as Little Manhattan hinge on a good balance between aesthetics and practicality. “Face brick has this combination – it is hard wearing and requires little maintenance but still has aesthetic appeal,” he said.
Additional benefits of clay brick
Clay brick’s many positive characteristics include affordability, longevity, structural strength, flexibility in design and application, natural sound proofing qualities, incombustibility, natural resistance to fire, solidity and security as well as enduring natural earthy colours.
Van Heerden said that overseas and local studies showed that clay bricks promoted healthy living which was particularly important in homes for young families. “The inorganic qualities of fired clay deliver mineral content that guarantees a nearly pollution-free indoor air quality. A natural propensity to absorb and release humidity from the atmosphere provides a good moisture balance inside apartments and protects against mould growth which is widely recognized as a contributing factor to sick building syndrome.”
Good thermal performance was another important attribute of clay brick. Scientific research demonstrated that clay brick structures were warm in winter and cool in summer, cutting energy usage substantially and saving costs.
Van Heerden concluded: “Sustainability requires that we build projects that are able to endure, with little maintenance and no materials replacement, way beyond a 100 year lifecycle. Clay brick is the one man-made walling material that has proved to be more than up to the task.”