Our guide to Kramerville Design District

Two more design-orientated buildings are Jazzman Plumbing’s latest addition to Sandton’s Kramerville Creative District – the legitimate design quarter of Joburg – with another in the works.

By Eamonn Ryan | All images: Eamonn Ryan

JoJo tanks and heat pumps being installed on the roof of 33 Commerce Crescent.Jazzman workers hard at it.Whether its arts, crafts and artefacts from Africa; carpets, kitchens or furniture; or on-trend fabrics – Kramerville has become the place to spend time among the winding storehouses. Two new three-floor buildings are nearing completion, with Jazzman at the time of Plumbing Africa’s visit putting the final touches to the plumbing.

Some of South Africa’s most exciting creative studios have their headquarters in Kramerville, which has come a long way since its industrial beginnings. Nos 33 and 39 Commerce Crescent are two distinct and almost adjacent projects nearing completion for Jazzman Plumbers. The district is developing a unique look and feel as one creative or design firm after another set up shop. With prominent exposure from Bowling Road, this location has easy highway access to the M1 and N3 freeways. This 4 300m² GLA, A-grade development is due for completion towards the end of 2019, having commenced six months earlier in late February of this year.

No.39 is a new warehouse, while No.33 is a commercial building housing various tenants. In keeping with the theme of the precinct. Both buildings are three floors including a basement
for parking.

Maintaining the common theme stems from the fact that four buildings in close proximity were all designed by the same firm of architects.

The duct at No.39.Project challenges

The client brief and subsequent design in terms of the wet service was to develop a robust system that facilitated ease of maintenance and one that was energy- and water-efficient. For a company accustomed to large projects – such as the previously profiled Katherine Towers – this was a relatively routine project. Still, time was as ever a challenge as deadlines were tight from the start.

Prioritising work schedules is always complex in a plumbing project as the building was still under construction and each floor could only be completed once it was built. Having two projects under way simultaneously – and for the same client – made scheduling relatively easy, explains Leon Tobias, MD of wet services contractor Jazzman Plumbing. In fact, the contractor had only just completed the nearby Katherine Towers and so was already virtually on site. The current projects commenced while Jazzman was still wrapping up Katherine Towers, and the team could be quickly redeployed between sites. Subsequently they switched as needed between the two Commerce Crescent sites. Only for the last two months has Jazzman been on site permanently.

“These are relatively small jobs for which we designed the wet services from the architect’s drawings, on a design-and-supply basis. There are straightforward boxes with ducts and core, with toilets and basins all one on top of the other. The initial groundworks consisted of sewer and water mains running underground towards the duct. We place it in the duct and then play the waiting game for the next floor to be built. As the building rises, we move the pipework up the duct to each new level, the internal plumbing piped out to the various areas, and take it all up to the roof where you have the tanks, pumps and heat pumps,” Tobias explains.

Product choices

Jazzman Plumbing contributed to the choices of sanitary and brassware, which specified the same products as it uses on most of its projects, such as Katherine Towers and the Sasol Head Office, which is also nearby. The choice of products – Geberit for the rainwater system; Duravit for sanitaryware; Hansgrohe for taps; and SA Heat Pump Engineers for the heat pumps – were based on an overall experience with the brands, that are reliable and available. “If you go through all the buildings we’ve done, you will find we stick to these same brands, because we much prefer the products to the alternatives; the design is nice, and we have a good working relationship with them.

“We work with them to ensure we give the best quality for the client, while making it fit into our budget. I’ve been in this business now for 30 years and is there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout that time is never to cut corners.

I’d rather not get the job if I have to compromise on quality of material or workmanship,” says Tobias.

A feature common to all the brands chosen is that their products all contribute either to water saving or energy efficiency, says Tobias. “These include the devices on the end of the tap system; the toilet system comes down from a 15ℓ to a 9ℓ and ultimately a 7ℓ water system; the toilets work hand-in-hand with the cisterns and are made to take less water; and the reason we use the heat pump is its greater efficiency which we prefer to a solar-based heating system. I like something that is efficient – and solar is sporadic.

“We did the design to be water-efficient, energy-efficient – and still save the client money,” adds Tobias.

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