Firmenich, in line with its global commitment to three strategic streams – acting on climate change, embracing nature and caring about people – has taken bold steps in delivering an exceptional facility with its refurbished offices and laboratories in Midrand, which has received a Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) six-star Green Star interiors rating. 

Benefits of refurbishing a building

Refurbishing a building provides opportunities for companies to:

  • Make their buildings more efficient.
  • Increase sustainable measures.
  • Improve the work experience for staff.

Creating an eco-system within the workplace

Firmenich worked with the Tétris Design and Build team to deliver a holistic solution that considered the entire eco-system of a workspace. The final solution places the employee experience and wellbeing at the centre of an upgraded building.

The building includes:

  • Improved energy efficiency.
  • Rainwater harvesting.
  • High-quality air supply.
  • Access to natural light.
  • Views of the landscaped gardens. 

Shedding some light

An initial workplace strategy, assessment of technical laboratory requirements and light study resulted in 85% of the employees seated within 7m of natural light. Laboratory technicians have views outdoors, meeting rooms are filled with daylight, and an extended glass and steel atrium that serves as the architectural focal point provides a much-needed informal meeting, connecting and eating area for staff. 

Opting for a holistic solution

To deliver on the client’s values and aims, the Tétris Design and Build team, together with Solid Green Consulting, made sure they delivered on the client’s core values and aimed to achieve a healthy workspace environment.

Some key implementations

A 75% reduction in municipal power use through the installation of 110kw photovoltaic roof panels, with battery storage, ensures continuous productivity despite power outages.

This saving is combined with a 67% reduction in reliance on municipal water, achieved through collecting and processing rainwater from the roof and parking area. Water collected is stored in a 100 000-litre underground tank before being pumped into a 5 000-litre tank above the ground and then through reverse osmosis treatment to generate potable water for the staff. 

Air quality in the work environment is core to Firmenich achieving a healthy workspace and is essential in a space dedicated to producing flavours and fragrances. Positive and negative air flows are engineered to ensure that smells stay inside the laboratories and don’t extend beyond these areas. The HVAC system distributes fresh air throughout the space, and CO₂ monitors continually measure the air quality.

Awareness of the power and water usage levels and air quality is tracked through smart meters, and communicated internally to create awareness about the use and conservation of natural resources.  

Pleasing aesthetics

Aesthetic comfort is added to the efficiency of the refurbished building through open-plan workspaces, with informal seating and collaboration areas marked with bold wallpapers and patterns that identify different divisions’ workspaces.

While aligning with the company’s global brand guidelines, there is also a strong use of pattern and geometry informed by local African shweshwe fabrics to anchor the project in its regional context.

The connection to nature and clean air is continued through the addition of large planter boxes that provide screening in open areas, and custom-made plant features that fill the hallways and the double-volume reception area. Staff can also access an outdoor deck under the shade of large trees in the landscaped gardens for work breaks.

Achieving a revitalised, yet sustainable, solution

The final result is a revitalised office for the Firmenich business that sets a benchmark for a rigorous approach, which considers every detail towards improving the overall performance of a building and the comfort and wellbeing of the teams working within them – a truly sustainable solution.

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to www.tetris-db.com for the information in this editorial.

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