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updated 6:54 AM SAST, Mar 14, 2031
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ARM boss ousted in UK firm’s board shake-up

Long-serving ARM Cement chief executive Pradeep Paunrana has been ousted in a management shake-up of the troubled company orchestrated by UK sovereign wealth fund CDC Group. CDC, which owns a 42% stake in the troubled Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE)-listed cement maker, has also made other key boardroom changes that will see businessman Linus Gitahi take over as chairman.

The management and board changes are seen as CDC’s bid to have a tighter grip on ARM’s operations that have remained in control of the Paunrana family, which founded the manufacturer. The company has in recent months announced changes in its executive suite, further isolating the Paunranas who still hold significant shares in the business.

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Structurally-complex 140 West Street is both timeless and elegant

The ability to make a structurally-complex building appear both elegant and timeless was the driver behind the design of the new 140 West Street commercial development in Sandton, according to Paragon Project Architect Kay Hausler.

Developed by Zenprop, the 27 000 m² of P-grade office space comprises two linked towers on a lush landscaped podium, namely a ten-storey North Tower, a 14-storey South Tower, and eight parking levels. The project achieved a 4 Star Green Office Design V1 from the Green Building Council of South Africa.

“The original brief from the client was that we should design the building to achieve the highest possible green design rating,” Hausler notes. Taking four years in total, of which the construction phase was two years, the aim was for the building to be sensitive in scale and response to the pedestrian zone. It was to be an iconic building that would function as a head office, while still being considerate of its inhabitants and context.

She adds that the client was very open-minded in wanting something “fresh and new, and gave us quite a lot of freedom to explore some somewhat unconventional and custom design elements.” Enriching the internal user experience and the urban environment was achieved by activating the street edge by means of a restaurant; a convenient and beneficial addition to the bustling pedestrian route between the Gautrain Station and the Sandton hub.

Construction was complicated by the fact that access could only be achieved from West Street itself, which made the building process and earthworks tricky. “To get the soil and rock out, we tried something not yet done in South Africa,” Hausler highlights. As opposed to a traditional soil ramp, which is time-consuming to remove, the earthworks contractor used reinforced, recycled shipping containers, stacked like Lego, to create a temporary ramp into the excavated hole that could be removed in three days.

The main architectural feature is the angled, curved-glass atrium enclosure that connects the two towers, allowing for breathtaking views from both inside and outside. The atrium is designed as an internal street, connecting pavement, entrance, atrium, and landscape deck. The internal space hosts large trees, planting, sculptural lighting, and informal canteen seating.

The bridges fan away from one another, so that each is lit naturally from the glass roof above. These bridges are, in essence, large concrete beams that perform a significant structural function of tying the two shear structures of the towers together. The cladding and elongated lighting of these structures has been designed in such a manner that they appear slender and elegant.

This is a complex building that has been designed to look really simple. The floor plates are long and narrow, and curve away from one another. They are orientated north to maximise north light into the work space, as well as to maximise views from each floor. By using post-tensioned slabs and larger perimeter columns, Paragon was able to remove all of the internal columns on the floor plates, creating large open spaces, and maximising flexibility for tenants.

The east and west ends of the building include impressive cantilevers, allowing the building to lean outwards. This is enhanced by the façade ‘wings’ that extend past the ends of the building.

More information at www.paragon.co.za

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South African black property owners want certainty over land reform policy

South Africa's black practitioners in the property development sector have no qualms about an amendment of the Constitution to expropriate land without compensation, but they want certainty over the policy and decisive action if it is to be implemented. 

Nkuli Bogopa, president of the South African Institute of Black Property Practitioners (SAIBPP), says that government needs to be decisive on the issue of land reform policy for investors to make informed decisions.  "The changes to the Constitution or the amendments that have been proposed, in isolation, will not achieve anything. We think they should always go hand-in-hand with legislative frameworks that make things possible, and they should also go with actual implementation," Bogopa said in an interview with ANA.

"So [land expropriation] should be implemented, and let's execute and let's see what happens going forward. But right now there is so much fear to take decisive action." The land debate took another twist this week after Afrikaner lobby group AfriForum published a list of 195 farms alleged to be on the radar of the ANC-led government for expropriation without compensation. 

Parliament's joint constitutional review committee has completed its countrywide public hearings into the proposed amendment of section 25 of the Constitution, which will pave the way for government to expropriate land without compensation in the public interest. The debate has been a source of great anxiety for many.

Bogopa says SAIBPP, an advocacy group of more than 500 black property practitioners and property owners advocating for socio-economic transformation within the property sector, needs to face these burning issues head on. Bogopa says all stakeholders, including government, civil society and the private sector, need to have all hands on deck to make the land reform policy a success. 

"They mentioned that there was little participation of the financialservices sector and those stakeholders that are critical at the Land Summit, they can't stay away from these conversations and then want to send the wrong message. They have to be in those conversations to unpack how these things should be done so that all stakeholders are able to find balance," Bogopa says.

"Developers are going to be jittery and investors are going to be jittery for as long as we have not unpacked the how. At SAIBPP we are very specific to say urban and spacial transformation is not a new policy, it's there within the Department of Human Settlements, it just needs to be implemented." 

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Nothing succeeds like excess: Dubai plans world’s largest mall

Just when it seemed that the era of jaw-dropping Dubai mega projects was over, the emirate has announced plans for the world’s largest retail space: a vast high-tech mall covering an area of 74ha, the equivalent of 100 football pitches.

The $2bn “Dubai Square” is earmarked for Dubai Creek Harbour and will be more than twice the size of Dubai Mall. It will also be home to the Middle East’s largest Chinatown. The developer is Emaar Properties, which told CNN that the mall would “push the boundaries of modern retail and leisure by drawing on next-generation technology”.

The high-tech features will include a virtual reality park on the ground floor, smart fitting rooms with interactive mirrors, AI-assistants who can make personalised recommendations, and 3D printed clothes. Shoppers will also be able to avoid the check-out queue by buying goods on their mobile phones using special apps, or by barcode-scanning applications and radio-frequency identification tags.  

As well as the shops, there will be a four-lane boulevard lined with cafes and restaurants and other attractions, such as an “Ice Adventure” park.

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