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Building versatility under the microscope

Being unable to leave the house for weeks on end has shown many of us the utility value of good architectural design.

The changes brought on by Covid-19 will be reflected in how our buildings are designed and used, expects Jean Grobler of Boogertman + Partners, proud members of Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA). “Versatility of building design, as well as interior design, will be under renewed focus,” he said.

“New regulations aimed at maintaining social distancing mean that our previous office space, suitable for almost 70 people, now accommodates fewer than 50. It shows that during this process we’ll need to apply new principles and ways of thinking to accommodate our new normal,” he told the GBCSA.

There is going to be a change of protocol of how to interact when entering and once inside the building, expects Grobler. For example, consider the way regular building users, visitors, and couriers may be accommodated in the light of safety concerns.

The high level of rental stock building design will take longer to reflect our reaction to the pandemic, but internal designs will change quickly. With the increased emphasis on sunlight and natural ventilation, designers will be challenged to maximize both in boardrooms and visitor spaces.

This redesign will not be limited to commercial interiors. “We have recently completed a proposal for a 1500 bed ICU hospital in the Soccer City football stadium,” said Grobler. “The existing structure has the potential to change to be useful in this time of crisis, should it be required.”

This ability to extend the functionality and relevance of existing buildings will be under renewed focus, notes architect Richard Stretton of Koop Design.

Older building designs, with greater internal space will perform better during times of restricted movement. “Homes should be flexible [structures]. They should respond to the needs of the occupants by supporting their lifestyle changes, the life span of a family or the nature of their relationships,” said Stretton.

“Newer buildings are often designed to chase the best yields through small ratios. The 6m² in a call centre, and 10m² in a commercial building are quite significantly less than the approximate 15m² per person that new regulations require. Now suddenly, 20% of your staff can remain at home, but you still require the same space,” said Grobler.  “The rigorous performance measures of modern buildings will allow them adjust air conditioning and cross ventilation to make these spaces more hospitable.

“Initially, I expect that new regulations may make design changes initially necessary, but soon our behaviour as building users will adjust to accommodate new health stipulations.

“It’s been interesting to be working with a client during this time of lockdown. Initially they were set on 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment designs. Now they are looking to use the same apartment space to create a studio that can be easily converted into a 2-bedroom by the owner as required. The thinking here is that the space needs to be more user-friendly for times when you are locked-in. I expect smaller apartments will be more flexible to allow for people being indoors for longer,” Grobler said.

GBCSA offers professional certification for subject experts via the Interiors – Green Star Accredited Professional Program.

Individual Membership

Designed for professionals acting in their individual capacity, including single consultant-businesses.

Organisational Membership

Ideal for companies, government departments, and organisations.

  • Total Employees: 1 - 5 Employees - R 4080.00
  • Total Employees: 6 - 20 Employees - R 12570.00
  • Total Employees: 21 - 50 Employees - R 24690.00
  • Total Employees: 51 Plus Employees - R 43840.00

Lisa Reynolds

Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director

Lisa Reynolds is the CEO of the Green Building Council South Africa.

Lisa was the driver for the drafting of Energy Efficiency Standards and Regulations for Buildings and has been involved in Energy Efficiency since 2003. She serves on many committees in the SABS and within the energy management professionals’ space. She was President of the SAEEC from 2016 to 2019 and was the previous President of the ESCo (Energy Services Companies) Association. Lisa was instrumental in the formation of SAFEE (Southern African Females in Energy Efficiency) within SAEEC.

She has assisted the South African Government with its Green Building Framework policies, Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives and Energy Efficiency Strategies

Her passion for the “Green space” started with the birth of the Green Building Council in 2007. Lisa served on the Board and the Technical Committee of the GBCSA, as well as on several Technical Working Groups for Rating Tools and Criteria. Lisa. became CEO in June 2020.

Lisa has a BSc, an MBA and a CEM. Lisa’s awards include the 2007 ETA Award for Women, 2008 Individual Energy (SAEE), 2012 SABS Standards Writer Award; the 2014 Women in Energy (SAWIEN); and the 2016 Ian Lane Hall of Fame award.

Lisa is committed to growing the Green Economy within a Green Recovery.

Organisational categories

As an organisational member, you will fall into one of the below categories, and be charged according to specific size indicators. Please reach out to us for any further clarity on which category is best for your organisation

Property Developers

Annual Turnover

Investors, Owners, Property Managers

Total Asset Value

Major Corporate Tenants & Retail

Annual Gross Rentals

Building Contractors

Annual Turnover

Building Product Manufacturers & Distributors

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Professional Services: Architects, Designers, Engineers, Quantity Surveyors, PM’s, Consultants, Legal

Number of employees

Research, Higher Education, NGO’S & Regulators

NGO or Research/Higher Education/ Regulators

Related Interests: Utilities, Financial, Insurance, etc.

Annual Turnover


Local/ municipal/ provincial/ state 
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