Civil Designer Showcase

Exploring New Avenues

To many, Lake Michelle is probably regarded as one of the most beautiful places in the world. Set amidst Noordhoek's tranquil wetlands, this new lakefront development has inspired numerous investors to create breathtakingly magnificent homes. "The R200 million residential development has been ongoing for the last eight years and has presented many interesting challenges," says Peter Wium, senior partner at De Villiers Sheard Consulting Engineers.

Lake Michelle's heart is a salt marsh lake with indigenous fauna and flora. The area is home to over 126 species of birds and other fauna like the rare leopard toad and an extensive variety of ducks and fish. "Our greatest challenge in this five phased project was to ensure that the venture remain eco friendly. This required us to engage in many long discussions with environmental bodies like The Noordhoek and District Civil Association, The Developers of the Environment for the Western Cape and the Noordhoek Environmental Action Group."

Although the project started eight years ago, it was suspended temporarily until a Cape Town developer bought the ground and resumed the venture at its full pace. "The delay placed tremendous time constraints on the team and we subsequently approached Knowledge Base Software to help us with the preliminary designs, feasibility studies and DTM, extending into the final designs for the roads, services and pond structures. They provided us with two technicians for a month and we were able to meet the required deadline in time. It was comforting to know that we were receiving help from the CIVIL DESIGNER software experts and in addition acquired a great deal of knowledge during this period," says Peter.

Besides the actual environment, the design itself was equally challenging. "We were given specific requirements for the design of the sewer systems, being so close to the water body and with a ground surface that was very flat. In addition, certain zones were restricted and we found ourselves having to work around these environmentally sensitive areas."

"In order to maintain the quality and aesthetic of the estate, the landscape guidelines specified that all stormwater needed to pass through reeded channels in order to aid the water purification process before entering the lake. These reeded links form access points via bridges and paths which lead residents onto decks, board walks, jetties and bird hides," says Wium. More than half of the 224 plots ranging from 700sq m to 2500sq m have already been sold with property prices ranging between R695 000 and R1,5 million

De Villiers Sheard have been in existence for over 20 years, deciding very early that government contracts were too inconsistent and restrictive. Since then they have concentrated on private development work which has held them in good stead with recent shortages in this sector. "When you work in such a small team you are not limited to accepting specific contracts as each team member is multi skilled and there is a greater degree of flexibility within the company. The increased demand for commercial buildings and housing development complexes has therefore allowed us to explore other exciting options. Today we are involved in the design of the Observatory Business Park, Schonenberg Estate in Somerset West and The Island Club at Century City."
Lake Michelle | De Villiers Sheard Consulting Engineers

"The Observatory Business Park was designed with the help of CIVIL DESIGNER's Turn module. Our primary objective was to ensure that the large delivery trucks could drive through the traffic circles of the business park with ease. We made good use of the programs road simulation to test the route before drafting the design."

A project very similar to Lake Michelle was the Schonenberg Estate. "Like Lake Michelle, the design of the roads, services and detention ponds required strict adherence to many environmental restrictions as is the norm these days but we were led by a well-developed, appropriate urban design. The estate is situated on the outskirts of Somerset West near The Lord Charles Hotel and consists of the development of a 60 ha piece of land. This initiative is still in its design phase and will be completed in June 2005."

Another massive project worth over R200 million is The Island Club development at Century City. "The project was conceived by ourselves and Marc Harries, a long standing client and well established developer in Cape Town. It was put together by Rabie Properties and was sold out in two months. The estimated cost for civil structures alone is worth over R16 million. The proposed development is on the N1 highway to Cape Town and is considered to be the new prime address in Cape Town," says Peter emphasising the scope of the venture.

Peter is passionate about his work and explains that each project has its own unique quality. "I enjoy each venture as a challenge as it allows me to remain focused and explore new avenues. At De Villiers Sheard we have always had a very simple yet effective philosophy - we make time to add that personal touch and strive to deliver a good service by always ensuring that we remain up to date in the appropriate specialised fields and technology," says Peter in closing.

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