This striking Green Star SA certified office building in Johannesburg is the very first thing visitors see when they step out of the new high speed Gautrain station. Big, bold, and punctuated by conical light funnels and exterior louvers, Paragon Architects' stellar design provides a comfortable working environment for 2,400 staff. And whilst the 100,000 square meter footprint is staggering, a host of interventions ensure that the financial services company on 115 West Street (with its lobby full of living trees) is far more conscientious than others of its kind.
South Africa’s equivalent of the green building rating tool from Australia and New Zealand, Green Star SA will officially recognize the office on 115 West Street with a four star rating in March, 2013. Organized for optimum orientation in accordance with South Africa’s new energy legislation, the building is flooded with natural light thanks to 12 8.4 meter cones that float above two atria. External louvers mitigate excess solar gain.
Planted with several 6m high, living Ficus trees, the lobby is an inspiring space that boasts excellent air quality. The building is fitted with a robust grey water recycling program that helps to conserve water, which is a precious resource in South Africa, and the exterior is xeriscaped with indigenous, low-maintenance plants for the same reason. Recycling facilities have been provided to help guide a more responsible office culture. Ultimately, buildings of this enormity are only sustainable for the so-called 1%, but given that South Africa has long lagged in the green building industry, we have to give kudos for this beautiful construction.
Images © Andrew Bell