The Growth of Facade Engineering and Construction Industry in South Africa

Facade Engineering, commonly complimented with Rope Access, a speciality niche within the Construction industry, is subtly growing in South Africa, with bright future prospects both globally and in Africa.

 

In South Africa, companies like Africa Façade Access (Pty) Ltd in the construction industry, are known for their Rope Access, Façade Works, and Scaffolding works for mega projects like The Leonardo Hotel, the Discovery Head Office, Werksmans Attorneys offices all in Sandton, and the Exxaro Lakeside Tower, in Centurion.

 

Africa Façade Access (Pty) Ltd specializes in rope access and scaffolding solutions within the South African market. The company is led by experts in construction and facade projects with experience in Ghana, Germany and the South African construction and building maintenance industries.

 

All technicians at Africa Façade Access (Pty) Ltd are qualified under either the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) or the Institute for Work at Height (IWH) which are international and local industry standards and best practice association for professionals and companies across the globe, respectively.

 

Understanding Façades and Construction

A façade or facade is generally the front part of exterior of a building. It is a loan word from the French façade, which means “frontage” or “face”. In architecture, the façade of a building is often the most important aspect from a design standpoint, as it sets the tone for the rest of the building.

 

The building facade is one of the largest and most important elements of the overall aesthetics and technical performance of the building. Exterior wall technology is the art and science of solving aesthetic, ecological and structural issues to achieve effective building enclosures.

 

Professional companies are dedicated to this niche area of the construction industry, and engineers work in the technical department of the facade construction company. Exterior wall engineers usually have special qualifications in the field of exterior wall technology, and consultants work with planning teams to carry out construction projects for architects, builders, site managers, and product manufacturers.

 

The curtain wall engineer must consider the material characteristics, aesthetic appearance, static behaviour, weather resistance, safety and usability, safety, maintainability and constructability of the building curtain wall in terms of design, certification, manufacturing and installation. Skills include topics such as computational fluid dynamics, heat transfer in 2D and 3D structures, material behaviour, manufacturing methods, structural engineering, and logistics.

 

This facet of engineering is on the rise in South Africa, especially in the metropolitan and upmarket areas such as Sandton, in Johannesburg; with corporate head office towers and luxury apartments and complexes preferring façade works to make their properties stand out. 

 

Africa Facade Access (Pty) Ltd, the Rope Access and Facades specialist company, has done several projects in South Africa, Ghana, and Germany that include office buildings, energy plants, and hotels. Some of their notable projects in South Africa include the Investec Head Office, The Leonardo Hotel, Discovery Head Office, Werksmans Attorneys, all in Sandton, 33 Baker Street in Rosebank, just to name a few.

 

Global Growth of the Façades Market

According to Grand View Research, the global facade market size was valued at USD 217.9 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.4% from 2021 to 2028. The rise in construction-related activities has been an important factor in driving the market. 

 

Furthermore, technological innovations are leading to the development of energy-saving facade materials. These advanced products absorb solar energy and find widespread adoption in several commercial and residential buildings as a secondary source of electricity generation. 

 

The market is expected to grow at a considerable rate over the forecast period. This growth can be attributed to rising customer spending power, primarily in China, Japan, India, Brazil, and GCC countries, along with the need to provide a secure work environment to employees. Furthermore, the use of metal composite materials offers a durable, harmonious, and modern appearance to the building. Increasing usage of such composite materials to build facades is projected to boost the market growth over the coming years.

 

Modernization and urbanization are playing a vital role in the growth of the market. Several factors including waterproofing, fabrication, durability, and resistance to extreme climate come to play during the construction of facades. Changing perceptions of consumers and increasing focus on the exterior appearance of a building are anticipated to boost the growth of the market. Rising disposable income is leading to increased investments in renovations, which, in turn, is estimated to augment the market growth. Growing investments in the advancement of the residential and commercial construction industries in developed countries, such as the U.S., can stoke the growth of the market.

 

The ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit hard the construction industry across the globe. Moreover, the complete lockdown in several cities across key countries, such as China, the U.S., Germany, U.K., and India, had a significant impact on the global economic slowdown in 2020. 

 

Moreover, owing to the rapid spread of the virus, it has forced the shutdown of various ongoing residential, commercial, and industrial construction projects globally. Therefore, the slower growth in the construction and real estate industry due to the lower demand for buying homes and offices is expected to slow down the demand for facade products and services over the shorter period. 

 

Furthermore, the relaxations in lockdown measures provided by the federal governments, coupled with the releasing of economic relief packages across prominent countries, such as the U.S., U.K., China, and Germany, are expected to bring the market growth on track over the next seven years.

 

New Innovations and Eco-friendliness

In 2020, the ventilated facades segment held the largest share of 44.3%. Ventilated facades are likely to be the most prominent product during the forecast period. In the ventilated facades segment, curtain walls are poised to be the fastest-growing sub-segment over the forecast period owing to their increasing penetration in commercial buildings. They mainly comprise glass materials that can transmit heat to provide a warm atmosphere in regions with low temperatures. As a result, they are also projected to gain high demand in residential applications soon, primarily in the U.S., the U.K., and other colder parts of Europe.

 

The market, at present, is dominated by classic designs, which are anticipated to be replaced by modern, eco-friendly designs over the coming years. Ease of raw material availability and strong demand in the end-use sector, including the commercial and industrial sectors, owing to the recovery of the global economy are estimated to unfold opportunities for the industry players over the forecast period. 

 

Major innovations in composite material development are leading to overcoming several limitations of excess heat and soundproofing. Several basic materials used in the development of the product include aluminium, plastic and fibre, glass, ceramic, and steel. Aluminium and glass-based composite materials are widely used to build facades owing to their low weight and high transparency, respectively.

 

Aluminium and glass are highly preferred due to their durable and elastic properties. This allows designers to provide proper shape and size to facades. Investments in R&D have also led to the development of eco-friendly or sustainable bio-climatic “second-skin facades” to make use of the environment for building lighting, heating, and cooling.

 

In 2020, the commercial end-use segment captured the largest share of exceeding 50.0%. Facades are extensively used in commercial and residential buildings to protect the interior and provide a visually appealing outer architecture. 

 

The product is extensively used in commercial buildings due to the availability of high construction budget among corporates. The rise in the number of commercial buildings, such as retail stores, hotels, medical centres, warehouses, and garages, in India, China, Brazil, and the Middle Eastern countries is expected to spur the growth of the market over the forecast period. Innovation in this niche of construction is on the rise.

 

One of the notable eco-friendly projects by Africa Facade Access (Pty) Ltd include the Exxaro Lakeside Tower in Centurion. In their press release, Exxaro noted that the Lakeside Offices project “targeted a Green Star SA Office v1.1 Design and As-Built rating, and incorporates various sustainability features that serve to minimise their impact on the environment“. 

 

The Future is Bright in South Africa

The Business Wire reports that the South African construction industry is expected to grow by 6.1% in real terms in 2021 – up from a contraction of 16.5% in 2020. The industry is expected to register a marginal annual average growth of 0.2% between 2022-2025, with growth being restricted due to the government’s focus on fiscal consolidation, owing to the deteriorating fiscal situation in the country.

 

The government expects the country’s public debt to rise from 63.3% of GDP in 2020 to 81.8% by 2021, and further increase to 93.5% by 2026.

 

Sources: Grand View Research, Business Wire, Exxaro