Two Sandton refurbs upgrade office space

by Ofentse Sefolo
Two Sandton refurbs upgrade office space

In tough economic times when vacancy rates are high, it makes sense for property owners to focus on maintenance and to refurbish existing assets with the aim to attract new investment.

However, Keron Muller, senior architectural technologist at Paragon Group, warns that cost-saving isn’t always the case. “Sometimes costs can be higher due to the quantity of remedial work required, often usually only identified during the actual construction phase,” he says.

The implication of the refurbishment trend for the Paragon Group is that these projects usually require more unforseen work than new builds, which means that the resource allocation could be higher than predicted. But if done correctly, refurbishing is a great way to preserve an asset, such as the following two projects.

A new identity for the old Discovery building
155 West Street, Sandton
By Paragon Group

155 West Street underwent a significant upgrade after the previous tenant, Discovery, moved to new headquarters. Courtesy of Paragon Group

After Discovery moved out of 155 West Street (and two other buildings) to their new headquarters, the property owner decided to upgrade the 25-year-old building.

Since the building was still perceived as the “old Discovery building”, it was important to establish a new identity in a cost-effective yet impactful manner, especially considering that 155 West Street is located on a prominent, high-traffic road.

The original brief was to upgrade the facade, add a three-storey atrium with a roof terrace and skylight, do a full ground-floor upgrade with common meeting rooms and a coffee shop, as well as an upgrade to the P1 parking level, with change rooms, showers and facilities for cyclists.

Additional briefs were given to modernise the internal finishes and to allow for multi-tenanted floor plates. Fire-escape stairs were also added from the ground floor to the roof, allowing for a greater building density without any attendant risk.

Together with the new composite aluminium facade cladding, new materials were also explored. The new entrance and atrium addition is a three-storey high steel structure with a polycarbonate and glass facade.

“It is the first time that this polycarbonate material has been used on such a scale in South Africa, which by itself posed a challenge,” Muller reveals. However, the upgrade was completed successfully.

From motor dealership to office space
Eastgate 20, Sandton
By Paragon Group

Two new storeys, together with louvres and screening, were added to Eastgate 20 so that it no longer rests in the shadow of the adjacent highway flyover. Courtesy of Paragon Group

Eastgate 20, a former motor dealership on the corner of Grayston Drive and Katherine Street in Sandton, was required to be converted into AAA-grade office space. Tiber Projects drove the conversion process in order to maximise the bulk use of this high-profile location, according to Paragon Architects South Africa (PASA) director, Thulani Sibande.

The most dramatic alteration was elevating the building by two storeys, so that it no longer rests in the shadow of the highway flyover. This necessitated the introduction of glare-reducing louvres, and high-performance glass to offer sun-screening, while still taking advantage of natural light to save 64% on artificial lighting.

Sustainability was another key requirement, with the overall strategy incorporating transport, health, energy, water and waste in compliance with SANS 204.

New features include sun-screening, high-performance glazing elements, occupancy-sensitive internal lighting, mechanical ventilation offering 15 litres per second per person of fresh air, waste recycling, the use of paints, adhesives and sealants with a low level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and a vehicular environment that encourages the use of electric and alternative transport.

The water system now comprises solar geysers, a set-toilet water pressure, stormwater cleaning, meters on incoming mains and showers, and an irrigation supply designed to save 35% on normal usage.

“The design concept of ‘a box out of a box’ led to a layered and refined architectural design, with crisp edges and folded planes defined by hard glass and tiling finishes to the facades. The volumes were important in this site location, where the building is seen as a three-dimensional object from a variety of different vantage points and heights, and by motorists travelling past,” Sibande concludes.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Paragon Group for the information and images provided.

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