Pioneering Innovative Developments
Writer: Phoebe Calver
Project Manager: Kane Weller
PDM was incorporated in 1963 as a real estate advisory, property development and facilities management services Company. As an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), PDM is part of an international group of institutions working to improve the living conditions and opportunities in developing countries.
AKDN and its development agencies have been active in East, Central, and parts of West Africa for nearly a century, and have been involved in health, education, insurance, tourism, banking, industrial and real estate sectors.
PDM’s business philosophy embraces the challenges and opportunities in the real estate property market, providing focused and uniquely differentiated real estate products and services; the Company reputed for creative and innovative real estate business solutions.
“We are headquartered in Kenya, with operations spread across East Africa,” explains Azmeena Bhanji, General Manager of Real Estate Development at PDM. “Despite the significant impact of PDM developments on City skylines and its benchmark-setting influence in the local real estate market, PDM’s market presence has been low-key, reflective of a conservative approach in creating public awareness of its human-centric philosophy towards real estate development.”
In 1964, shortly after Kenya gained its independence, PDM embarked on the development of the IPS Building, demonstrating its faith and commitment to a newly independent Kenya. The building, completed in 1967, was the first high-rise office building in Kenya and the first to incorporate precast building technology, and still retains its iconic stature as one of the most significant landmarks in the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD).
Construction of the Nation Centre which houses the largest media enterprise in Kenya – the Nation Media Group – was undertaken in the 1990s. This building that is also situated in the Nairobi CBD, is one of the City’s most well recognised landmarks. PDM also owns the DTB Centre, yet another well known landmark building, in the heart of Kampala, Uganda.
These buildings have become firmly rooted in and continue to serve as a pivotal part of the identity of the respective cities in which they are located.
“Despite the age of some of these buildings, they still proudly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the much newer buildings, in terms of both attractiveness and the appeal they hold for prospective tenants,” adds Bhanji. “We have ensured their sustainability through focused efforts in preventive maintenance and continuous upgrades.”
The Courtyard development, consisting of grade-A offices, was completed in 2013 and won the Architectural Association of Kenya’s (AAK’s) ‘Excellence Award for Best Commercial Building Project for 2014’. This development changed the direction of urban renewal in the Westlands suburb of Nairobi by setting a new benchmark for quality and green developments.
The recently completed Vienna Court – a grade-A office development on Processional Way in Nairobi – has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold pre-certification, the first in East Africa in its category.
Construction is also underway on Fairfield Gardens, a middle-income gated housing development in Machakos County, just south of Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. This development focuses on delivering excellent value for price through the integration of high quality European finishes and fittings as well as provision of extensive recreational facilities and a day care centre.
Building identity through environmental and social impact
PDM has created a subtlety in its identity over the years, focusing its attention more on the human and environmental impact it can make, rather than simply monetary gain.
Bhanji says: “At present, PDM’s pride and joy is the Vienna Court office development, which was completed at the end of last year.”
Being able to truly reflect PDM’s corporate ethos and core values through this project, by promoting green building and the use of local materials and skills, was incredibly important to the Company; demonstrating how far it has come and its standing as one of the most highly respected developers in the industry.
“The entire building is clad in local pink stone obtained from a nearby quarry. Using local materials in our developments is very important to us in terms of the PDM mandate,” Bhanji continues. “We also supported the resurrection of the dying art of installing terrazzo, enabling a 70-year old artisan who was brought out of retirement to train young apprentices in the art of cutting and laying terrazzo; which now covers all the building’s open walkways.
“Unlike other construction projects where ecosystems are interrupted or destroyed, it was very important for us to save the existing garden trees which had been preserved on the site since the early 1950s. We literally excavated four floors down – for basement parking – through very hard rock, in a spiral around this garden in order to save the trees, despite the significant additional cost.”
The development also features extensive landscaping, reflecting pools and water fountains, which provide a serene garden in the heart of a busy city.
Vienna Court is among only a handful of projects in East Africa to achieve international Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold pre-certification for embracing green features like ground and rain water harvesting, solar shading, solar control glass, passive ventilation, provision of priority parking for energy efficient cars and bicycle storage facilities.
Embracing international best practice
Setting benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) is important at PDM in enabling it to assess and validate developments, conforming to the corporate ethos of sustainable and human-centred developments that deliver both social and environmental impact.
Bhanji continues: “PDM has always embraced international best practices in every aspect of our business, this has contributed largely to our success and in differentiating PDM from our competitors.
Bhanji says: “For both our own, as well as the third-party developments that we undertake, we have implemented proven state-of-the-art project management principals, systems and controls. These enable us to control project scope, time and cost, and successfully deliver projects time after time. These controls and processes adhere to global standards.”
In terms of long-term sustainability of its real estate properties, PDM has established comprehensive operating procedures for quality control, planned preventative maintenance and building management.
“In order to achieve all of this, from inception we have embraced cutting-edge technology and are always receptive to adopting more efficient and cost effective ways to build and manage our real estate portfolio,” affirms Bhanji. “A large proportion of this has included upgrading the ICT and security systems in all our buildings to state-of-the-art systems.
“Our fully integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system provides continuous feedback on the lessons learned though our previous projects, hence enabling continuous improvement in every aspect of our business operations. We are currently piloting an automated Building Management Systems (BMS) at Vienna Court and plan to roll out the BMS to all our other properties starting in 2018. The BMS will facilitate efficient and cost effective maintenance of all our properties, increasing their sustainability.”
Benchmark for luxury
Infinity Court, PDM’s latest development in the exclusive suburb of Kololo in Kampala, Uganda – scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2018 – will be an architectural masterpiece, setting a new benchmark for luxury style living in Kampala, again embracing PDM’s core values through the extensive use of indigenous brick and a landscaped courtyard featuring palm trees and lush greenery and a cascading waterfall from the rooftop.
“Infinity Court will exceed the expectations of discerning Ugandan home buyers, offering breathtaking views and one of the first rooftop infinity pools in an apartment complex within the area, as well as a clubhouse and gym,” Bhanji enthuses.
Being a Company that is truly defined by its corporate ethos and core values, PDM has and always will pride itself on its commitment to sustainable development that delivers both an environmental and social impact.
Bhanji concludes: “Over the years we have acquired a reputation for being highly ethical, transparent and reliable, and delivering to the highest quality. We believe these attributes both differentiate and set us apart in an environment where reliability, integrity and delivering what was promised are often the exception rather than the norm. It is my hope that in the years to come, we will continue to have a positive impact on quality of life through environmentally friendly, sustainable developments.”