Creating a Covid-19 compliant office by EWA Architects

by Ofentse Sefolo
Creating a Covid-19 compliant office by EWA Architects

The recent interior design of multinational Brenntag Chemical’s new offices during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic has forced interior designers to do more than just think outside the box.

Brenntag Chemical is a chemical distribution company that deals with many products spanning various industries – from nutrition to polymers, plastics, paints, wood etc. Their motto, “Connecting chemistry” & “Chemistry is our DNA” has formed the inspiration for the concept design, which involved a combination of organic and inorganic forms which are found in the structure of the molecular DNA.

Initially the 2 700m² office space, with an attached 4 800m² warehouse, required interior design to be done to the base building. This part of the project was completed by KL Developments. Once the tenant was signed up, Ewa Winczewski Architecture and Interiors was appointed to work on the interior design and space planning.

Fit-out completed during Lockdown
“The design process started at the same time as the pandemic, with the final design and space planning completed and signed off during the lockdown. This was because the building construction and fit-out had to be completed by the end of December 2020,” comments Ewa Winczewski, owner of Ewa & I.

“This project was a non-typical office fit-out – in addition to the general office design we had to incorporate a specialty chemicals test/blending/repacking facility. This ‘lab-style’ setup had to be self-contained and near the warehouse space to comply with the client’s requirements, with the remainder of the brief focused on creating an office environment that adhered to the new adhering to social distancing requirements incorporated as part of the overall design.”

How the brief was adapted
Larger open-plan spaces were incorporated into the design, with more desks of more than 2m long allowing people to move freely and to work during the pandemic. It also meant that couches placed in the public areas were replaced with single seater chairs spaced in accordance with the social distancing requirements.

The building itself was a mixture of curves meeting straight lines, as large round curved floating bulkheads with juxta-positioning against a strong line in the building’s form and finishes. Material rawness, mixed with bold colours, created a contrast with the office walls painted in bright colours and carpeting inserts randomly laid to create form and interest.

“We not only wanted the people who use the offices to have a space which works for their needs, but also to integrate some of the Brenntag products into the end design. As in the reception area, where wood and other fitted elements in a mix of solid wood against a natural palette was used as a reflection of a client’s products, which are used in the smoking of edibles,” Winczewski comments.

The lab area
In contrast to the rest, the “test lab” area, in collaboration with Calibre Consulting, is a clinical space with high-end grey epoxy on the floors, white walls and lab cabinets mixed with stainless steel equipment. As this is the product working area, it needed to be both practical and compliant with strict international standards.

“We are extremely proud to be involved in this collaboration with Brenntag and KL Developments; and to have completed a project of this nature on time, in the budget and to the client’s specifications all during the height of the lockdown,” she concludes.

For more information, contact Ewa & I cc:
Tel: +27 11 482 7524
Email: info@ewa-i.com
Website: www.ewa-i.com

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