Though it was probably known by another name, the core concept of a Central Business District (CBD) in many thriving cities dates back to the 17th Century when merchants , farmers and consumers would gather in city centers to exchange, buy and sell goods.
Through trade, the cities grew and improved their “market places” into the earlier version of the CBD.
Since then, the CBD has evolved into a fixed location in the centre of a city characterized by high-rise buildings, no boundaries, high density, a lack of parking, transportation nodes, a large number of pedestrians on the street and generally a lot of activity during the daytime.
The CBD is essentially about perception. It is usually the “postcard image” one has of a particular city. It is a diverse region of the metropolitan area which merges residential, retail, commercial, entertainment, government, financial institutions, medical centers, and culture. The professional is often located in offices or institutions in the CBD – lawyers, doctors, government officials and bureaucrats, entertainers, directors and financiers.
Even though this concept is one which is relatively new to Botswana, we have boldly embarked on the development of our own CBD at the very heart of the capital, Gaborone. Despite the current absence of skyscrapers, the CBD does have many other features which suggest it is just that – a Central Business District! The construction of “The Square” (Shopping Mall and Office Block) in the late 2000’s, was a breakthrough which spearheaded further developments as manifest by the emergence of more buildings – various office blocks, courts of law, restaurants and a hotel.
As these new buildings are built, developers continuously strive to come up with better buildings than the older ones in terms of aesthetics and practicality. One such building which has recently been completed is the new Mowana & Morojwa Mews, which is one of the first buildings to be seen as one approaches the CBD from the South.
Mowana & Morojwa Mews was developed by a joint venture company, Wheki, which is a partnership between Time Projects and CC Projects. CC Projects were the landowners who required the expertise of the largest most successful private sector developers in Botswana, Time Projects, in order to develop the site to its full potential and to come up with a unique design for this highly visible plot. It is the second sectional title office development to be completed and occupied in the CBD, the first being Prime Plaza which was also developed by Time Projects.
In an interview with Roy Mapharing, Project Manager at Time Projects, he explained that Sectional Title is a form of property ownership where the purchaser owns the “section” of his offices and has use of the common property such as the lobbies, ablutions and other areas outside his actual office suite. His parking bays are allocated to him and he would have exclusive use to these areas which could include storerooms, archives, parking bays and garages. The section title concept is new in Botswana and Morojwa and Mowana Mews are one of the first office developments to be sold under this type of title.
The development design adapts well to the site and blends well into the surrounding environment and certainly catches one’s eye as you approach the CBD. As with all Time Projects developments, one of the areas that is of paramount importance is ample parking for occupants and visitors, to avoid the typical problem faced in most buildings in the CBD and in actual fact the whole of Gaborone.
The site comprises of two similar buildings of varying heights, which are arranged so that their entrances are facing each other with a mid-block road situated between them. They are both U-Shaped, with the inner part of the “U” being the entrance to each block. The buildings are slightly elevated so as to provide additional parking at ground level underneath the buildings. This was not only a smart way to increase the parking bays for the buildings, but also a cost reduction measure since it made extensive earthworks unnecessary. Another option to provide the additional parking required would have been to construct a basement but in order to reduce the cost to the purchasers, as basements are far more expensive than at grade parking, it was decided to give the purchasers the cost advantage of at grade parking.
The first and taller of the two buildings is located closer to the Western Commercial Drive, inside the CBD and is a three-story structure. It is the new home to six companies, A R Edwards, Imara, Cell Connect, Praiseworthy, Norilsk Capital and Amalgamated Miners Union.
The second building which is a two story building is a replica of the first building but only a story lower, the reason for this is so as to ensure that the parking ratio of 4.5 bays per 100m² was achieved, the second building had to be decreased in size. The owners in the second building are: SAIS, TechBulls, Merge Holdings, Centre for Applied Research, Moribame Matthews and D T Properties.
Each office suite has its own unique internal finishes, which have been specified by the owners. The common areas on each floor are identical and have access control to the entrance doors to the building as well as the individual suites. The floors are tiled in a mixture of granite and full bodied porcelain tiles, granite stairs and A-grade toilets. On each floor there is an ablution and an elevator that have been designed to be user friendly for the physically challenged.
While most of the offices are carpeted there are some owners who have used bamboo flooring or porcelain tiles on the floors and in some instances, bamboo doors to the offices and have finished off the offices with lovely colorful furniture to match.
Greener is Better
As with all new buildings in which Time Projects embarks, care has been taken to ensure that the Mews are as green as ever. Both buildings are north-south orientated so as to minimize the impact of the harsh sun and sun screening is provided on the north, west and east facades. All grey water and condensation from the air-conditioners is collected and re-used for irrigation purposes, waterless urinals have been utilized in men’s bathrooms to save water and low volume flush toilets and infra-red sensor taps have been installed.
Light sensors have been installed in the buildings in order to save power. That way if there is nobody present in a room, the lights will automatically switch off by themselves after a predetermined time, normally 20 minutes. Solar geysers have been used to provide hot water to buildings.
As with all Time Projects developments, landscaping is a priority and the landscaping has been based on indigenous water wise planting. The name of the buildings, Mowana and Morojwa has even extended to the planting of these trees on the property.
“We have also gone the extra mile to ensure that there is always electricity, especially with unexpected power cuts, by installing a backup generator.” Roy added
The design concept here was to come up with a practical building. The rectangular site also influenced the concept with a mid-block road for smooth circulation of both vehicles and pedestrians.
The development is enclosed on one side by the main road and an internal CBD avenue on the other. Both buildings have been used as buffers in that they have been intentionally placed as close to boundary of the site so as to eliminate the need for any fencing which is not permitted in the CBD.
Looking at the final product, one can surely say that Time Projects has achieved what they set out to do which was to produce a building that not only they but also the owners of the office suites can be proud of.