Boogertman + Partners take the podium with new project in Pretoria
The brief was simple: build a 'Flagship Building' that is low maintenance, that won't date and that will get people talking This iconic building has been a talking point ever since the first off shutter concrete facade was revealed.
The seamless triangular union of glass and off-shutter concrete was inspired by ancient engraved artworks found in the Blombos Caves on the Southern Cape Coast of South Africa. This symbolises a bridge between a 77,000-year-old culture and the future of South Africa.
Inspiration was also drawn from the ancient Chinese Tangram dissection puzzle. This puzzle, consisting of seven flat shapes called tans, are put together to form shapes. The design team met the client brief by transforming this ancient game into a magnificent triangular grid which features on the eastern and southern facades of the building. The abstract design is produced as a modular unit that can be configured into a geometric grid, making the implementation of the design an exact science and representing a synthesis of mathematics, symbolic systems and art. Even the basement and lift lobby artwork makes use of these tans to create a 'geometrical garden' within an urban space, giving one the feeling of being in a digital landscape. The artwork transforms a once dull basement into a playful space where one would enter for a days work. The design suggests both the archaic nature of its origins and the sophistication of 21st century technology.
The monochromatic triangular facade consists of 4 shades of grey which span the soft curve of the building on the corner of Atterbury and Lois Road. This striking feature takes full advantage of its prime location directly across from Menlyn Park Shopping Centre. The curtain wall acts as a mirror to the sky, evolving in colour and intensity as the sun moves across the african sky. In some instances the mottled facade appears as a single uniform colour.
The building's northern facade is divided into two main sections. The first section has become known as the 'egg-crates'. This is created by an overhang which protects the office space from the midday sun throughout the year. Equally wide sunscreen walls provide shading from the early morning and late afternoon sun. The combination of the walls and the overhang create the 'egg-crates' which form intimate outdoor patios.
The northern facade is exposed to direct sunlight throughout the day. To avoid excessive heat buildup, a double curtainwall system was designed. The facade is therefore built up of 2 curtainwalls 1 metre apart, which naturally ventilate, dispersing the buildings heat buildup. The top and bottom of the curtain wall is open to assist the stack effect of heat dissipation within this void.
The main entrance to the building is a celebration of space with the bold concrete entrance towering the full height of the 5 storey building. This rather humbling entrance is a grand welcome to each visitor entering the Jewel of Pretoria.
Upon entering the building, one feels as if you have stepped onto the set of a 70's science fiction movie. A transition is made from the dark and powerful external facades to a much lighter, brighter interior. The geometric grid continues throughout the interior. Spontaneous triangular monochrome floor tiles contrast playfully on the floor of the lobby and pure white glass wall cladding subtly mimics its big brother, the exterior facade. The facade is visible from the office space during the day, adding texture and contrast to the interior. At night, the bright playful interior draws passing eyes like moths to the flame. Therefore the focal point of the building shifts from the dark and powerful exterior in the day, to the bright and playful interior at night.
Although the building is not Green Star rated, many Green Principles have been implemented. These include T5 light fittings, a VRV HVAC system, the double curtain wall facade, 765mm bulkheads and similar sized spandrel panels on every floor reduces the effective area of the facades, passive sunshading on the northern facade and performance glazing which reduce heat loads substantially.
Podium at Menlyn has become the gateway to the Menlyn node, which is to become an A-Grade business hub with in excess of 300,000 sq m of mixed use development including retail, offices, hotels and residential units being planned. The success of the project can be attributed to the unbeatable combination of limitless creative talent in the form of Francois Bredenkamp, technical and project management expertise in the form of Frans De Klerk, and a client who had complete faith in the both of them. Support from an equally talented technical and interior design team made the implementation of the orginal concept a reality.
There is a saying that goes "Be so good they can't ignore you". The architects believe Podium at Menlyn has made this saying its own.