Paragon Architects: www.paragon.co.za
SCULPTURE, SURREAL, LIGHT
This building is a new head office for AFGRI for Tshwane-based developer, M&T Commercial. Both client and tenant wanted to maximise the visual impact of an elevated site platform immediately adjacent to the main Johannesburg – Tshwane motorway. This is a catalyst building in the new Bylsbridge office park development, wedged between the noisy motorway on its northern edge and a community of low-density single storey houses on its southern edge. The form and the detailing of the building had to appeal both to fast-moving motorists and be acceptable to adjoining residents whose houses face in its direction. A soft, sculptural and flowing form with a strong silhouette seemed like an appropriate design solution. For the tenant, a comfortable, generous and light-filled building in this quite harsh environment was a definite requirement. The building is an unapologetically sculptural object, raised on short columns and appearing to be hovering above the elevated ground plane atop a double-storey parking basement. The body of the building is raised off the ground, and reads from a distance as a simple black-and-white composition. The glazed walls appear from a distance as uniform dark surfaces, with the flat glazing profiles matching the dark glass in colour. Under the shimmering belly of the building, a surreal landscape of irregular geometric forms appears to push through the surface deck from below. Thickened wall edges contain fleshy and spiky plants that support the strongly three-dimensional presence of the building and its setting. The whole is wrapped in ‘azulejos quebrados’, the delectable broken ceramic tile facing made popular again by Santiago Calatrava in recent years. The building glistens in the torrential summer rains and shimmers above the stream of passing cars at night.
Architects: Paragon Architects
Architectural Project team: Anthony Orelowitz, Bruno Coelho, Estelle Meiring, Brent Rahme, Yumna Ismail
Project Name: Afgri Head Office
Location: Centurion, Tshwane, South Africa
Photo credits: Andrew Bell/ Paragon Architects