“In mid-2015 we were commissioned to design a new office building for Caldas Engineering, a supplier of crusher parts to the mining industry,” says principal architect, Mike Rassmann. As Caldas had expanded steadily over the years, their current premises in Meadowdale had become cramped and didn’t possess good views into the yard and over their stock, something which was imperative for a company which relies on the fact that they can dispatch stock quickly.
The company acquired a 4300m² rectangular property in Activia Park, Germiston, which met their requirements for more yard space but unfortunately did not have any quality office space on it. Hence the starting point for the design was to locate and size the new office building, named Rubela Park, on the site in order to maximise the yard space, while still ensuring that the new building would have an optimal solar orientation.
As the length of the structure would be facing east and west, large windows were placed on the east façade, to maximise natural light and thereby reduce the electrical consumption of the building (as little artificial lighting would be required to light the work spaces). On the west façade, high, narrow clerestory windows were strategically placed to reduce the heat gain from the west sun in the afternoons, but to still provide a sufficient amount of additional natural light into the offices that had to be located on this side of the building.
To further improve the amount of natural light entering the building, a mezzanine level, which allows for a generous double volume along the east façade, was located between the ground and first floor. This double volume meant that the size of the windows on the east façade could be maximised, flooding the ground and mezzanine floors with natural light. Direct morning sunlight is dealt with by means of vertical louvres. In order to take maximum advantage of South Africa’s optimal solar conditions, a photovoltaic (PV) solar plant, for electricity generation, was installed on the roof of the building.
PV electricity generation is ideal for office buildings as they are predominantly in use during the day when electricity generation is taking place, thereby removing the necessity of installing a costly battery and inverter system within the building. To complement the green credentials provided by the solar façade controls and the PV installation, a large mono-pitch roof harvests rainwater which is stored in a sixty kilolitre tank above the ground floor boardroom.
This water will be used for irrigation of landscaping and the washing of vehicles. The building is laid out over three levels; a ground floor housing the reception, a boardroom, a meeting pod, an open plan sales office, covered parking and a garage; a mezzanine floor housing a staff lounge with kitchen, executive offices and an indoor planted area (to incorporate greenery into the building interior); and a first floor housing the administration offices. Source by Architects Of Justice.
- Location: Activia Park, Germiston, South Africa
- Architect: Architects Of Justice
- Project Managers: Condor & Co Project Management
- Quantity Surveyors: Lyndon Projects (PTY) LTD
- Structural Engineers: V&H Consulting
- Civil Engineers: Klunene Consulting Civil Engineers
- Contractor: Zatmar Construction
- Award: GIFA (Gauteng Institute for Architecture) Award of Commendation 2017
- Year: 2017
- Photographs: Courtesy of PRchitecture