Ikusasa – 7 Parks Boulevard, Rosebank
Named after the isiZulu name for ‘future,’ the brand new Ikusasa building is the latest addition to the bustling, mixed-used Oxford Parks precinct. Positioned on African Square along Parks Boulevard, the 7585 m² office space, comprising four floors and three levels of basement parking, is the proud new home of Anglo American’s Global Services division – another blue-chip company to complement the big-league residents already established in the district.
Read along to learn more about this fascinating six-star Green Star build…
Brief and location
Situated in a prime location bordering the CBD-node of Rosebank, Oxford Parks is the pinnacle of cosmopolitan ambiance. The mixed-use precinct is favoured for its diversity and unique blend of residential, retail, and business components, offering convenient access to major roads, the Gautrain, and other public transportation options.
GLH Architects’ brief was to align with the vision of Oxford Parks by extending the character of Rosebank, and incorporating the design into a vibrant and leafy urban node with a strong focus on seamless pedestrian movement and non-motorised transport.
Ikusasa splendidly reflects the client’s holistic approach to the precinct by encompassing a powerful architectural design with innovative and energy-saving efficiency and a fresh approach to integrating public spaces.
The project’s integrated, urban philosophy sought to heighten a sense of human scale, connect activities inside the building to their surrounding streetscape, and focus on the pedestrian experience. This was brought to fruition by activating street frontages and by creating spaces that mesh with the fabric of the neighbourhood’s landscaped links, which wind between pedestrian pavements and mid-block public or semi-public spaces.
All parking is sub-terranean so as to respect pedestrian movement and safety, and to encourage walking, cycling, and other leisure activities. Another important aspect is the promotion of passive security for a welcoming and safe environment without fences. An inviting entrance was achieved by setting the building back near the street intersection on the north-eastern corner. The open-plan corner mimics adjacent developments to become a mini piazza, while the landscaping enhances the urban vibe through a diverse and ecologically-sustainable plant palette.
Upon their entrance, visitors are welcomed into a double-volume atrium, allowing convenient access to the central core of the building, which is used for amenities and support functions. Public-interface spaces such as meeting rooms, a coffee shop, and restaurant dominate the ground floor, each uniquely interacting with the surrounding streets and the pedestrian zones.
The architecture of the building can be described as modern, humble, and timeless, with an open and permeable character.
The team decided at the start of the construction phase to integrate the tenant’s interior fit-out with the new build. This ensured that the internal environment would be enhanced by the envelope of the building, providing a superior space for the occupants.
Simple, rectangular, and open floor plates allow for maximum flexibility and sub-divisibility around the central lobbies across the three office levels. The structural planning comprises a generous square column grid of 8.4 by 8.4 metres – a layout that ensures the futureproofing of the building for single or multiple tenancies beyond the current fit-out.
One of the challenges faced, was that the project team needed to deliver the final product within an incredibly tight construction period of 12 months. Therefore, the building design had to be cognisant of the speed of construction necessary to meet the tenant’s requirements. This required the team to aim for a speedy assembly without compromising on the quality of the high-end corporate product, and all while still reducing the company’s carbon footprint.
Taking the aforementioned into account, the material selection, therefore, also had to be in keeping with the project’s strict time constraints. This resulted in a design where all of the elements could be incorporated into a system of unitised panels to be erected as completed modules without the need for perimeter scaffolding. Such a system has the added benefit of sustainability as it is designed for easier disassembling in the future.
Even though the building could be finalised at record speed, GLH Architects still desired to create something unique by bringing diversity and contrast to the façade. This was achieved by using a stone-look tile for the solid elements to create texture and character, contrasting with the smooth and sleek aluminium cladding and glazing. A pattern of vertical fins was used to protect the glass from the low-angle east and west sun, and to create interest and bring subtle colouring to the north and south sides of the building.
The tenant and developer’s combined aspirations for environmental sustainability were accomplished by intentionally showcasing elements such as solar panels in the architecture as opposed to concealing them. The building’s relatively long east and west façades required solar protection, which resulted in a rhythm of solid stone panels that step to concurrently tie into the placement of the roof’s solar panels.
The north and south façades are far more transparent with energy-efficient double glazing, protected by ‘over-cladding wings’ at the corners to effectively cut out the exposure to the east and west, as well as functional balconies and horizontal shading for the north in summer.
Automated, sun-controlled blinds for cutting out the glare complete a pleasant and healthy workplace. The project’s innovative application of façade materials resulted in a product that is low-maintenance and timeless; a design that is simultaneously efficient and eye-catching.
Ikusasa is a future-smart, technologically-connected, and innovative workspace that responds to the urban environment of the Oxford Parks precinct with its dynamic, high-street culture and business and leisure connection. The interior spatial framework is structured as a flexible and adaptable task-based workplace that utilises contemporary tools and technology to empower employees with opportunities to work creatively within a system that caters to their diverse needs.
Designed by Paragon Interface and aligned with Anglo American’s progressive minimalism branding principles, the unique space is subtly overlayed with South African colours, materials, and textural influences, resulting in an interior that beautifully reflects the country’s rich heritage, strength of community, and diverse mining landscapes.
The space employs a variety of textures with ‘engineered and expressive detailing’ that can be seen throughout the highly technical, natural, and biophilic materials. Several intuitive and leading technologies were strategically incorporated into the build, including plug-and-play AV systems, a globally-linked room booking system, and energy-efficient lighting.
On the second floor, an innovation hub offers a series of flexible, open-plan workspaces – all designed to empower Anglo American’s values of innovative thinking and collaboration. The collaborative spaces encircle a transparent, soundproof, and immersive ‘pod’ at the centre of the room, which provides an anchor for the open agile workspaces clustered around it. This set-up allows for creative brainstorming and idea-generation to take place in the collaborative spaces, and then to complete the final phase of the realisation and implementation of these ideas by gathering in the ‘pod’.
Additionally, the development also includes a meeting suite for clients, a coffee shop, and an employee restaurant on the ground floor with connections to the urban framework of Oxford Parks. Phumulu Lounge, the employee restaurant, was conceptualised as the heart of the organisation. Providing a distinctly urban aesthetic combined with Anglo American’s elegance and sophistication, the interior offers a unique relaxation and catering experience, encouraging a sense of community.
As the first six-star Green Star-rated building in Oxford Parks, Ikusasa has set the tone for a sustainable, integrated precinct. The build upholds this important vision through various commitments, such as:
- Maintaining financial transparency and ethical information sharing.
- Exceeding local connectivity benchmarks and enhancing non-motorised access to amenities.
- Registering for multiple certifications during the various stages of the project, including a precinct certification.
- Implementing a ‘green lease’ agreement for ongoing environmental initiatives.
- Establishing a learning-resource programme through live educational displays.
- Selecting materials responsibly.
- Monitoring all building systems and energy usage in a comprehensible manner.
- Installing an air-cooled HVAC system with UV disinfection for air purification.
- Using energy-efficient and intelligent electrical systems.
- Stationing a photovoltaic system that covers the roof space.
Ikusasa successfully delivers the presence, stature, and remarkability the world-class Oxford Parks precinct commands. Striving to achieve excellence in all aspects, the unique building is welcoming and accessible to all, offering pleasant and desirable places to work, interact, and liaise with others in the context of a well-planned and meticulously-executed urban landscape.
MEET THE TEAM
Client: Anglo American
Project managers and principal agents: Duncan Clark Project Management
Architect: GLH Associates Architects
Quantity surveyor: Gro2 Consulting
Civil, structural, and façade engineer: Pure Consulting
Electrical engineer: RWP Consulting Engineers
Mechanical engineer: Adaptive Resource Engineers
Wet services: IZAZI Consulting Engineers
Fire engineer: WSP Group Africa
Sustainability consultant: Solid Green Consulting
Landscape architect: Insite Landscape Architects
Interior architect: Paragon Interface
Health and safety consultant: Comprac Holdings
Kitchen consultant: KDH Catering Design Concepts
Main contractor: Concor
Photography: Sarah de Pina