The Client was the Coastal Farmers Co Operative, a collective founded in 1946 to provide goods for sale to assist agricultural and primarily the Sugar Industry. Originally based at Umhlali but moved to the City Centre in 1952. The Co Operative purchased a strip of land adjoining the Mount Edgecombe Golf Estate and abutting the major arterial road into Umhlangha. Part of the land was sold off to other office developers and the remainder was to be the land for the Head Office. The Co operative has other commercial outlets up and down the coast. Kevin had previously designed, documented and supervised the Paddock branch. Kevin was a director of the Practice T J Architects at the time of the building. He was responsible for the sourcing of the project, the design, documentation and supervision of the project.
The property was flat with no trees and the soil conditions good. To the north was the main arterial, to the east a dirt road under the arterial to the sugar cane fields beyond the arterial.
To the south was the gated residential Estate across the access road to one of the Estate Gatehouses. To the west was the other office developments on the land the Co operative had sold off.
The Co operative had grown over the years and realized this would continue. They also realised that to add on to a building would in the future be an expensive option. Thus they briefed the architect to maximize the developable space on the property. The office space was to be sub divisible so it could be sublet and to allow both cellular and open plan offices. Sufficient staff parking was to be provided with shelter as far as possible from the sun. The building was to be energy efficient and to work with the environment. The project was to have a reception space, boardroom, outside boardroom entertainment private garden, boardroom kitchen, guest toilets, staff toilets, staff kitchen, staff outdoor relaxation space, management offices, administration offices, filing areas, separate entrances for the possible sub divided lettable office space. The project was a financial investment for the Co Operative and needed to satisfy the financial returns bettering other types of investment.
The Building has a:
- Total lettable area of 1600msq
- Total Built Area of 1700msq
- 65 parking Bays
- Two storeys
A fixed cost development package was required because of the financial status of the economy at the time. Through clever financial structuring, good design maximizing space and yet maintaining a high end aesthetic product and good teamwork of all concerned the project was realized.
The project team was:
- Development facilitators – Colliers RMS
- Contractors – Basil Read
- Architects Theunissen Jankowitz
- QS – Viviers Joubert and Versfeld
- Structural Engineers – Ferriera Wessels Bisshoff
- Landscaping – Golden Circle
The project was published in the SAPOA award winning Journal, Architect and Builder April 2000
The project was re photographed in 2018 for the Kevin to update his work in the commercial sphere. The Co-operative were complementary and the staff/management still remembered the Professional team. The building continues to function well and serve the Co-operative in being a successful operation in modern times.
The property falls under the Town Planning scheme of Mount Edgecombe and as such needed to follow the Architectural theme of the area. This is described as the Natal Verandah Style derived from the Colonial Settlers buildings built to provide shelter and comfort in the sub tropical climates of the world.
The red face brick walls, green sheeted top hat roofs, Dutch gables with roof ventilation panels, large overhangs/wrap around verandahs, white timber and metal filigree are all common of this style and the theme of Mount Edgecombe. There was a old red brick farmhouse, silos and sheds on the side of the Main Road to Maritzburg. This formed the inspiration for the original design. I was looking for applicable clues from the vernacular farm buildings which could be used in a contemporary idiom in a prominent and appropriate commercial office block.
Landscaping was an important part of the design as it provided shade, noise barrier and a pleasant visual setting. The building was designed in a U shaped plan form with the open end facing north. The courtyard was landscaped and is the main approach to the entrance. The perimeter property boundary was used as the parking and driveway and shaded with large trees for sun and noise barrier. The approach to the building entrance required one to drive in and around experiencing the property before entering the reception area mimicking the approach to a farmhouse on a farm. Courtyard walls on the street side together with vegetation provide the privacy required for the boardroom and staff outside areas. The building has a residential scale, with face brick plinth made up of a detail repetitive panel design with brickwork coursing and keystone detail
To achieve a floating roof appearance and to recall the fretwork of the traditional verandahs, a tyrollene plaster in a square grid pattern was applied to the walls all round the top floor of the building.
A large overhang with steel supports provides the sun and weather shade to the building. The two pitch roof assists in making this possible .
All offices have external windows The plan form minimizes the “Dead Space” with the services being placed in the areas with no windows. The two wings have two options for entry if sub let and also serve as fire escapes
The AC plant is placed in the “dead corner” roof area. The later installed Solar panels are lain straight on the north facing and sloping roof.