Architects of Justice (AOJ) have created a geometrically striking industrial-chic office building for Caldas Engineering.
A supplier of crusher parts to the mining industry, Caldas has expanded steadily over the years, and required more yard space (for stock storage) and more office space (to accommodate its increasing staff complement). The company acquired a 4300m² rectangular property in Activia Park, Germiston, which met its requirement for more yard space but did not have any quality office space on it.
“The property had limited, derelict office space at the back of the site, and we had to maximise the yard area to make every spare square metre of space beneficial for the client,” explained Rassmann. The starting point for the design was to locate and size the new office building, named Rubela Park, on the site to maximise the yard space, while ensuring the new building would have an optimal solar orientation.
The building is essentially a modest and efficient rectangular face brick box, with a raw industrial interior, embellished on the exterior by a simple external translucent polycarbonate screen (which is illuminated at might), which not only moderates solar heat gain on the façades but also provides much needed shape and interest to the form of the building.
“From a lighting perspective, the directive from the beginning of the project from our side was to make maximum use of natural lighting within the building to reduce electrical consumption,” said Rassmann. Not using LED lighting wasn't and option and all lights in the building are LED.
The façade of the building was designed and sculpted to balance the natural light received at different times of the day. The east façade has large windows to allow as much indirect natural light in as possible throughout the day with vertical louvres to screen out the direct sunlight in the mornings, while the north façade has large windows with horizontal louvres to screen out the direct sunlight at midday. The west façade has long thin horizontal windows located high up as this improves the distance that natural light can penetrate into the office spaces. Windows on other facades are designed to ensure maximum penetration of natural light within the office space.
The building is laid out over three levels; a ground floor housing the reception, a boardroom, a meeting pod, an open plan sales office, covered parking and a garage; a mezzanine floor housing a staff lounge with kitchen, executive offices and an indoor planted area (to incorporate greenery into the building interior); and a first floor housing the administration offices. “As the building has an industrial feel, all the internal light fittings are elegant but at the same time quite tectonic,” Rassmann explained.
The project received a Gauteng Institute for Architecture (GIFA) Award of Commendation in 2017.