From data centres to sports complexes and iconic office developments, the Paragon Group’s diverse experience and expertise has allowed it to adjust easily to the different building typologies now prominent in the local property market. “We are expecting a lot of refurbishment and adjustment of office spaces in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, repurposing of office buildings into other functions such as residential, and also more data and distribution centres coming online,” predicts Paragon Group Director Estelle Meiring.
Another new trend is middle-class housing, according to Paragon Architects South Africa (PASA) Director Thulani Sibande. He adds that the Paragon Group welcomes the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa of infrastructure development as a key driver of the country’s economic recovery plan. “We will be happy to form part of such a programme as the group can play a significant role once the government has finalised its plans in this regard.”
However, Sibande cautions that business “will still be slow for the first and second quarter of 2021. Market demand has dropped substantially and most clients have adopted a cautious approach. Africa will always have potential, as it is still growing and developing. We are getting a few enquiries from various African countries, which is heartening.”
In South Africa, the Paragon Group’s Cape Town office continues to fly its flag high in the Western Cape. “Our small team there has done a fantastic job in building the brand. A highlight of 2020 was having our first project start construction. The Cape Town market seems alive with possibilities, and we are looking forward to see what 2021 will bring,” highlights Meiring.
One way that the Paragon Group has been disseminating its knowledge to the broader industry, especially students, during this difficult time has been online masterclasses, which have proven hugely successful. “We have put a lot of time and effort into this initiative, basing it on detailed research and compiling it in a way that is quick and easy to digest in the format of visual presentations that deliver up-to-date information,” explains Meiring.
While remote working invariably has involved some adjustment, staff have adapted quickly to the ‘new normal. “In a way I think it has improved communication, as suddenly it is possible to dial into a meeting from a car, a building site or anywhere you might find yourself at that moment. I think remote or flexible working is here to stay, and that is a big shift for our business.”
Sibande adds that the overriding message from 2020 was that “we managed to survive and came out strong. Our main challenge going forward is to sustain a business of this size in a shrinking economy. My message is to stay safe and remain positive and optimistic.”
Meiring agrees: “It has been a difficult year, but I am super proud of how our teams pulled together and the high quality of work we produced. The way we overcame challenges proves the extraordinary talent and agility of the Paragon family. We are also able to adjust to new circumstances quickly, with a bit of grace and a lot of humour. I am proud to call this company my home,” she concludes.