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Corobrik Helps Deliver Sustainability at Little Manhattan

Corobrik has supplied 2,4 million Moroccan Red travertine face bricks for construction of the award winning Little Manhattan apartment complex.

Ockert van Heerden, Corobrik Director of Sales said that Little Manhattan had definitely raised the bar when it came to the provision of affordable accommodation within South Africa's continually growing urban built environment.

Little Manhattan is being developed by Central Development Projects which specialises in full title, sectional and high and low density residential projects.

Although the initial reason for the choice of this product was its durability and need for little, if any, maintenance, he said that clay brick and face brick in particular came with a desirability factor and status. This introduced the concept of quality of life into the entry level housing sector.

Government has ratcheted up its expectations of affordable housing to far more than simply putting roofs over heads and required that projects such as Little Manhattan actually enhanced lifestyles and paved the way for those who started out with rental accommodation such as this to ultimately become empowered to the point where they become home owners in their own right.

In keeping with government's vision for affordable housing, Little Manhattan moves beyond being an aesthetically pleasing environment to being a blue print for an integrated human settlement. It has been described as a truly sustainable empowerment project that has been intentionally designed to incorporate the likes of convenience and accessibility concepts that would not ordinarily be assigned to affordable, rental accommodation.

This user friendly environment is home to tenants mainly young and single or young families with one or two children. Little Manhattan has five schools within walking distance and shopping centres nearby. The estate is located on a main arterial route into Pretoria's city centre and is served by Tshwane's Areng rapid bus transit with a stop situated just 100 m from the gatehouse.

The first three phases of this R2,4 billion project have been completed and the total of 410 units are already occupied. The project has 10 phases. All with feature Moroccan Red travertine face bricks.

Van Heerden said he believed that the success of projects such as Little Manhattan hinged on a good balance between aesthetics and practicality. Face brick had exactly this combination and was hard wearing, required little maintenance but still had aesthetic appeal, he said. 

Positive characteristics include affordability, longevity, and structural strength, flexibility in design and application, natural sound proofing qualities, incombustibility, natural resistance to fire, solidity and security. The enduring natural earthy colours and textures of clay face brick walls significantly reduce maintenance costs, he said.

He said that five overseas and three South African studies indicated that clay bricks promoted healthy living which was particularly important in an environment populated by young families. The inorganic qualities of fired clay deliver mineral content that guarantees a nearly pollution free indoor air quality which is particularly relevant in a home environment. A natural propensity to absorb and release humidity from the atmosphere provides a good moisture balance inside apartments and protects against mould growth which is widely recognized as a contributing factor to sick building syndrome.

Van Heerden added that one of the most important attributes of clay brick was its good thermal performance. Scientific research has demonstrated that clay brick structures are warm in winter and cool in summer and, as a result, cut energy usage substantially. This is particularly important for families on tight budgets.

Sustainability requires that we continue to build projects that are able to endure, with little maintenance and definitely no materials replacement, way beyond a 100 year lifecycle. Clay brick is the one man-made walling material that has proven to be more than up to the task, concluded van Heerden.

Two blocks of apartments at the Little Manhattan development in Pretoria. The apartments have been built from Corobrik Moroccan Red Travertine face bricks which will offer low maintenance in the future.
One block of apartments at Little Manhattan showing the controlled entrance in the foreground that offers residents security.