Property developer JT Ross swept the board with top honours for its overhaul of the iconic Lion Match factory in Durban at the recent South African Property Owners’ Association awards in Gauteng.
The annual awards, which are considered the crème de la crème of the commercial property awards in the country, recognize significant contributions made through innovation and excellence in the property development sector.
The historic match factory site which is now owned and was developed by JT Ross walked away with a number of awards, notably as joint winner in the refurbishment category with the Four Seasons, The Westcliff in Johannesburg and was then recognised as the overall heritage category award winner.
The cherry on the top was when the development with its iconic golden lion was announced the overall winner across all entries from around the country.
Dean Jay Architects, the architects in charge of the refurb, which started in 2013 and concluded in 2015, have also set up offices in the mixed use office park. Key considerations by the adjudicators, who traveled across the country assessing the entries, included economic and financial fundamentals, design, community perception, efficiency, workmanship, sustainability and overall aesthetic and practical impact of the development.
The interiors of the existing buildings within the Lion Match Office Park retained the industrial, factory design with exposed trusses and clerestory lighting. In the new building, old bricks from the original structure were used and the crinkle cut roof was designed in keeping with the existing architecture and to meet the Amafa – the provincial heritage conservation agency – requirements.
There was also critical attention paid to the detail of the environmental efficiency and sustainability of the buildings. Further, the upgrade has resulted in a revitalization of what was becoming an urban eyesore.
The redevelopment and design of the park, which now has tenants ranging from a medical centre, a dentist, a beauty salon to conference facilities and home to the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry among others, had created a community of its own. It has also added to the social upliftment of the adjacent Station Drive.