New Office Accommodation for The Department of Transport & Public Works, Green Building
Jacobs Parker Architects - South Africa
The Green Building The Western Cape Government has a mandate to drive environmental and social sustainability when developing new infrastructure. The design and construction of The Green Building was therefore an opportunity to deliver real, material and meaningful benefit to the community that it serves. The Department of Transport & Public Works required a building to consolidate various administrative offices into a single facility which provided all required amenities. This included office accommodation, conferencing, meeting and other support facilities. The facility was to be located on the Karl Bremer Hospital campus, situated 20 minutes from the Cape Town CBD. The design concept proposes 2 wings: The taller, southern wing relates to the scale of the road, and creates an identifiable landmark along an otherwise nondescript street. The north wing is lower, in order to create a pedestrian scaled entrance and to allow natural daylight to reach the taller, southern wing. Between these two masses, lies the central atrium space, which houses the primary vertical circulation and serves as a foyer for the auditorium, conference facility, meeting rooms, library and archive. The atrium is therefore an activated, multi-purpose space at the heart of the building. The upper floors are dedicated to flexible, open-plan office space. The building is designed to enhance the feeling of transparency and a sense of community. This is achieved by strategically locating all shared facilities on the ground floor, which encourages movement through the building and a sense of collective ownership of all spaces. The building will be among the first government owned buildings to achieve a 5-star Green Star rating. This is achieved primarily through passive design, which included optimized orientation, appropriately proportioned glazing, filtered natural daylight, well-considered acoustic design and a water use strategy that recycles all storm and waste water in a fully organic recycling plant. All water is used at least twice before entering the municipal system. All spaces have visual connections to the outside, which greatly enhances the feeling of spaciousness and transparency. This creates a more people-centred environment, offering opportunities to pause and appreciate the surrounding context. The building’s materiality was guided by contextual and pragmatic considerations. Aside from acknowledging the existing buildings on the campus, the use of red facebrick also minimizes the maintenance requirement over the lifespan of the building. Facebrick is also a labour intensive construction material. This allowed employment, skills training and mentorship programmes to be implemented during the construction phase. These programmes resulted in recognised qualifications for participants and will unlock further employment opportunities beyond the construction of this individual project. Materials were sourced from local suppliers, which yielded a reduced embodied energy for the project, as well as substantial support for the local economy. This holistic strategy led to this being the first building in Africa to achieve a socio-economic impact certification as part of its 5-star GreenStar rating. This demonstrates that the design and construction of the project not only addressed environmental sustainability, but also successfully and rigorously addressed issues of socio-economic sustainability.