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The Elegance
The design of The Elegance was a journey in itself that challenged us to open our eyes to new possibilities, while at the same time forcing us to constantly remind ourselves of what the realities were. The result is a structure shaped by both. To be built in a half acre parcel on General Mathenge Drive in Nairobi, Kenya, The Elegance is to consist of showroom spaces on the ground floor, three mezzanine levels of semi-automated stackable parking and a further ten floors of office space above the mezzanines. There will also be two basement parking levels. The design principle is fairly simple: the office floor level plates rotate at the centre by around 5 degrees clockwise with every additional floor akin to a deck of cards being fanned out from the centre. One of the principle challenges to this design concept is the sheer length of the cantilevers at the upper floors. This, coupled with the need for a faster turnaround time in construction, lead us to opt for a steel structure, as opposed to the traditional RC framed structure. The choice of structure has set the tone for the rest of the systems in the building, in that it has encouraged us to use some of the lesser used construction solutions, some of them fairly new to the Kenyan market, and some of them which have been around but tend to be overlooked in favour of the more conventional options. Some of these solutions include: 1. Semi-automated stackable parking. We will be incorporating a parking solution from WOHR in Germany for Automated Stacked parking solutions, thereby reducing the levels of parking required as well as the overall cost of construction. 2. Controlled glazing solutions. Having enlisted St.Gobain as the preferred Glazing Solution providers, we had them analyse each facade of the structure (which in itself was a little tricky due to the rotating edges) and recommend the best glazing solution for each panel for maximum efficiency taking into consideration: Thermal allowances to maintain a cool environment within without the use of mechanical ventilation, Sound control: reduction of sound from the neighbouring road, maximum natural lighting and minimum reflected glare. 3. Drywall gypsum partitioning internally to enhance the speed of erection and minimize wetworks onsite, as opposed to the predominant use of masonry blocks as is the norm in the region 4. Use of Corian as a facade design element: long lasting, durable and allows for flexibility of use. 5. Use of terrace gardens: Most of the office floors have access to a terrace space that borders the offices, we have chosen to convert these into natural grass areas which we feel will reduce the heat loaded onto the spaces below, while at the same time soften the clinical modern feel of the building.
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