Maintaining a gated community as large, prominent and active as Simbithi takes a fair amount of grit, planning and…every now and then, room to dream. As we near our 20th birthday, it is a poignant time to reflect on our facilities and aesthetics, especially those that set the tone for our Estate’s image. We recently completed two major projects in that vein: our new Welcome Centre entrance and the revamp of our South Gate.
SEEHOA Administration Building
The Welcome Centre was first given a facelift toward the tail end of 2021, when the space was redesigned to provide an improved welcoming experience. The new, multi-functional space works well, as does the adjacent access office, which was also revamped.
In August, last year, the technical team embarked on alterations to the exterior of the SEEHOA administration building. This building houses all SEEHOA staff members, our 24-hour Control Room, access office and boardrooms. As the nerve centre of SEEHOA, the building is often the first that new residents, clients, guests, business partners and visitors enter when they first visit Simbithi.
“After the interior works were completed, our second phase involved giving our entrance a much-needed upgrade. This is the first impression of the Estate, so it needed to employ a more modern aesthetic in line with current architectural trends,” said Technical Manager, Nicky Misra. “We worked closely with Gerhard Breedt, an architect on our Design Review Committee and contractor, Claassy Mitchell to design a refreshed entrance that embodies Simbithi.”
Work on the new entrance, overseen by Projects Supervisor Bongani Sithole, began in mid-August and were complete in December, last year. “One of the more practical features of the new design is the incorporation of a shaded area where contractors, for example, may wait outside the access office,” Nicky shares. “We have also added seating areas where individuals may wait outside, in the event that the Welcome Centre is at capacity.” The new dark grey paint and removal of the old intingu portico made a stark difference, as did the styled rooftop garden, where Environmental Manager Ayanda Duma and her team have placed planter boxes.
Gerhard, who has a longstanding association with Simbithi and a deep understanding of our design codes, was clear on his mandate. “With additions and alterations, design consideration is pivotal, because you want to avoid it looking like an ‘add-on’, which can easily happen. In designing the new entrance, our inspiration was to address a few key aspects: firstly to create a sense of arrival and modernise and enhance the aesthetic of the existing structure in an understated way,” Gerhard shares. The team also sought to enhance the functionality, usability and climatic control of the spaces. “Here, we took several elements into account, including the sun orientation and path, the roof height and use of materials in construction. Finally, we wanted to bring more greenery to the fore to bring the design in line with Simbithi’s eco ethos.”
He is proud of the final product, and looks forward to seeing it naturally “complete” itself. “Once the plants are mature, they will start to cascade over the planter boxes and roof edges, and I think the design will come full circle, close to the original vision.”
South Gate Revamp
This project was quite a journey, with discussions around upgrading the gate beginning several years ago. The first gate constructed on the Estate, the South Gate (formerly known as ‘Gate 1’) was, and still is, predominantly used by trucks and construction vehicles. “The gate was the primary entrance for the first phase of Simbithi, meaning it is our oldest,” Nicky says. “And, with most of our sectional titles located in this phase, it is also our busiest.”
The project went through several revisions, with the final scope receiving approval at the 2022 Annual General Meeting. The first phase of the upgrade continued work on the construction of a lay-bye, which had started earlier in the year. “Secondly, we had to replace the gate’s roof. Understandably, it was in a state of disrepair due to age and weathering,” Nicky explains. “We also, as residents would recall, needed to raise the roof to accommodate heavy-duty vehicles. At the gate’s original height, a fire truck was not able to pass through safely.”
Phase two of the upgrade was undertaken between September and December, last year. The scope included replacing the gatehouse roof, which had been removed during the first phase, civil works and the relocation and upgrading of security and information technology infrastructure. “We also focused on updating the gate’s design, in line with what had been implemented at our Ballito Gate a few months prior, which we received many compliments on,” Nicky recalls.
The new, darker brickwork and grey paint, black gate, wooden accents and subtle, soft downlighting gave the gate a trendy, contemporary aesthetic. The addition of our signature dragonfly sculptures and well-placed landscaping polished off the look. Raewyn Hayhoe of Evolution Architects, who designed the original gatehouses, was instrumental in the refreshed design. This year, the team will complete the upgrade with the addition of a shuttle shelter.
Both projects tie into the Estate’s strategy, which motivates our team to strive for excellence and is undergirded by our mission to be recognised as the pre-eminent residential eco-estate in Southern Africa. Ensuring our Estate is abreast of architectural movements, and providing facilities our community may be proud of is in line with our vision, to guarantee Simbithi’s sustainability.
Nicky thanked the contractors, architects and team for their hard work in executing both projects. “And, of course, to our community for being patient while works were underway. We realise the inconvenience is not always pleasant, but we hope the final results are worth it, and make you proud to drive through our gates.”