A Cutting-Edge Corporate Creation

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Nicol Corner – Bedfordview, Johannesburg 

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Size: 22 000 m² 

Cost: R300 million 

Completed: 

Location: Bedfordview, Germiston, Johannesburg, Gauteng 

In the heart of Bedfordview, IUM’s big and bold new mixed-use office building stands tall. Designed with careful thought and consideration, the iconic design by Cimato Moroldo Architects harnessed the client’s unique corporate identity and vision, and aligned it with their design principles to create a truly iconic landmark in the commercial building landscape of South Africa. 

Join SCAPE as we converge at the intersection of Nicol Corner… 

Building brief 

IUM prides itself in offering its clients state-of-the-art, tailored, and bespoke insurance products with the highest levels of service, which is why they wanted their building to reflect their corporate ethos. Cimato Moroldo Architects had previously designed two buildings for the client. Due to the expansion of the business, IUM was looking to move to bigger premises and had secured land in a prime location in Bedfordview, diagonally across from Eastgate Shopping Centre at the intersection of Nicol and Bradford Roads. The site originally contained a single-storey house, which was demolished before construction commenced. 

Due to the building’s corner location in a high-visibility position, the land allowed for the creation of a design concept that makes a statement, both with the architectural design and for the client’s business. The brief was to create a ‘home-away-from-home’ and no expense was spared in developing a luxurious, relaxing place to work in. The client wanted a landmark modern building with a glass façade and allowed the architects the freedom to run with the brief. Nicol Corner also accommodates Africa’s first 6-star gym. This exclusive boutique fitness centre offers the very latest in training technology and equipment, and with a floor area of 3592 m² it can accommodate up to 5000 members. The gym has childcare facilities, spinning and Pilates studios, a fully kitted-out boxing training area, external training area, and a sprinting track. 

Thoughtful design 

The building consists of three components: a parking garage, the striking winged-podium that houses the boutique gym, and the box-shaped office component with its angled façades and statement lighting details. 

The parking garage has three levels of parking, one of which is at basement level. Although the original plan called for two basement levels of parking, difficult ground conditions required a change to the final parking design. The parking garage is disguised from the street level using aluminium screens, adding a decorative element that blends with the dynamic design of the building while concealing the parking levels within. The screens were also designed in a unitised style. Large three-by-four metre panels were made off-site and then installed onto the parking structure. 

The second component, which houses the client’s boutique fitness centre, boasts the key statement piece of the design. A winged element that points towards the axis of the intersection with large glass panels spanning up to eight metres tall, allows maximum light into the space and helps to showcase the wing particularly well when lit up at night.   

The third and uppermost component incorporates four floors of offices and a fifth floor with a rooftop restaurant and in-house entertainment area for office staff. The LED lighting on the façade highlights the angled façade of the office component, picking up the diagonal angles of the glass sheets, and creating a striking light feature at night. 

Structural engineering 

The building consists of a concrete frame built on pad footings. No piling was required and the only excavation was for the single-level basement. The three-storey parking structure includes a standard column grid. The podium floor that houses the gym also uses conventional reinforcement, while the office block uses a bonded post-tensioning cable construction. The span between columns is quite wide at ten-by-ten metres, and the post tensioning allowed for a thin slab to be laid. The building contains three cores: two at the rear and one at the centre, which contains the lift shaft. Ecotech garbage chutes were installed on every floor. Lastly, hooks for the façade panels were cast into the structure for ease of installation.  

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Future-forward façade 

Nicol Corner is the first building in Africa to have its entire glass envelope façade specified with Frit Dot system glazing panels. These enamelled dots offer a variety of benefits, including a 30% decrease in energy consumption, decorative shading, and privacy, to name a few. The client requested the Frit Dot glazing as they had seen it effectively being used overseas. Although the initial investment appears expensive, it has the added benefit of not having to budget for blinds, which reduces the overall cost and allows for a clear, aesthetically-pleasing façade.  

The entire building’s interior pane is double-glazed with Frit Dot glazing. The external layer of the glazing on the office component has a performance-coating application, which was flipped at certain intervals, creating a ‘two tone’ glazing effect. This design feat can be attributed to the fact that the performance coating, which usually faces the interior, can also be rotated to the exterior and exposed to the weather. The result is a varying pattern of light and reflective, and dark and matte glazing. 

The façade perfectly conforms to the geometry of the building. On the top office component, diagonal joints protrude out, the aluminium profiles adapting to the almost polygonal shape of the building’s design. Nearly every mullion contains a special splice plate that allows the unitised system to fit to the building’s profile, retaining a reliable weather line. Some panels had to be ‘bent’ back at the top corner to fit into the façade design, which was challenging, but achieving this enabled the irregular angles to be showcased within the façade. A wind screen on the top-floor restaurant level deflects wind and can almost be considered as structural glazing. Made from cantilevered glass arising from the perimeter glass, the two-metres tall wind stand glazing is also shaped to follow the geometry of the office component. 

Electrical elements 

The building’s air conditioning system uses Mitsubishi Electric’s energy-efficient Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) System for heating recovery, and boasts one of the most efficient HVAC systems per kilowatt of cooling capacity available in the world today. The rooftop is fitted with LG’s NeON R solar panels, which supplement the grid’s power supply. With an efficiency rating of 22.3%, these solar panels produce the highest power output per square metre, and are suited for a broad range of weather patterns. Automated energy-saving lighting installations are controlled by the RTI building management system. And along with the Paxton Access control system integrated with Hikvision cameras, the building’s security component is also automated.  

An advanced networking setup that utilises Aruba’s next-generation technology offers a robust, unified, and secure wired and wireless network solution. HPE/Aruba Core and Access Switches make up the underlying foundation while the HPE/Aruba Wireless (Wi-Fi 6) network infrastructure provides a digital workplace for guests, gym members, and corporate users. Lastly, Aruba Clearpass has been used for network access control and security, while Aruba Airwave is deployed for additional management and visibility.  

Water and landscaping 

The building relies solely on two borehole systems and a rainwater harvesting system for the entire office’s water needs. Nicol Corner prides itself by making use of the latest rainwater harvesting technology and energy-efficient water heating, with vertical landscaping found on various levels throughout the building.  

Finishes and interiors  

The interior design of the building follows on from the cutting-edge external architecture. This results in a working space that is conducive to productivity while allowing teams to operate in a spacious, unrestricted setting. The workspaces are fitted out with AAA-grade finishes, giving a luxurious and artistic feel to the environment.  

Closing remarks 

Nicol Corner achieved the brief from the client by creating a striking, modern landmark that makes a bold statement and maximises the exposure of the client’s business identity. 

MEET THE TEAM 

Client: IUM 

Project manager and quantity surveyor: Kuun Consulting 

Architect: Cimato Moroldo Architects 

Civil, structural, and façade engineer: Pure Consulting 

Electronic engineer: KKA Consulting Electrical Engineers 

Acoustic consultant: LINSPACE 

Interior designer: Cimato Moroldo Architects  

Gym interior designer: SNA Architects  

Main contractor: Gothic Construction 

Photographer: Malan Kotze 

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