concept | design | reality
Green Building Council of South Africa's New Head Office
DATE: 2013-09-12

TITLE: Green Building Council of South Africa's New Head Office

The Green Building Council SA (GBCSA) has recently relocated to new office space within the Black River Park development, and interior architects Collaboration were selected to design these new spaces for the organisation that is leading the transformation of the property industry.

The offices are situated within an existing office development, and designed to bring to life the philosophy of the organisation and set the standards of green office design, while testing the feasibility and application of the new Green Star SA Commercial Interiors Rating Tool that the GBCSA is currently developing.

The office design demonstrates the organisation's corporate culture, one of openness and knowledge sharing, and is visually engaging, interactive, and accessible, incorporating leading workplace and workspace strategies as well as the application of sustainable design principles.

Energy and resource efficiency were crucial to the design thinking, with selection of sustainable materials, reuse and recycling both during construction and after occupation, and environmental comfort.

The link between green building practices and employee productivity is also an important part of sustainable design. Many organisations are realising that there is a significant financial benefit to improving employee productivity through design of an efficient, comfortable and stimulating environment.

Factors to consider include motivation and satisfaction, management structures, social interactions as well as the physical environment. The opportunity for designers lies in creating working environments that can really deliver for clients, taking into account both traditional sustainable features such as resource efficiency and recycling, as well as those features that encourage productivity.

At the GBCSA's new offices, an open plan working area was adopted and encourages mobility, and a visually open space within a non-hierarchical environment. To increase occasional interaction varied meeting and seating configurations have been featured throughout the office encouraging staff to engage on more informal level. The latest thinking in workplace strategy was applied and special attention has been given to thermal comfort and natural light levels.

Design Director Geoffrey John Bennett says "The highlight of this project has undoubtedly been the opportunity to test ideas and theories with a client committed to pushing the boundaries of sustainable design. It has led us to question behaviours and strategies in a new way, to get creative and to develop solutions along with GBCSA, setting the standard for green office design along the way."

The challenges of applying green building principles within an existing building required creative thinking and innovative solutions to ensure that the interior is an example of best practice for the Green Building Council SA.

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