Johannesburg - Tshwane’s swanky new municipal government offices in the heart of the city boast some of the best green features to be found in South African government buildings.
The city officially started moving into its new R2bn headquarters in the city centre last week Friday, with mayor Solly Msimanga one of its first occupants.
Called Tshwane House, the building boasts several state of the art green features and aims to create the ultimate working experience for the city's employees.
The building has been awarded top green certification. It will not only use less water but also recycle its water, while cutting electricity usage to the bone.
Commissioned architect Warren Stanley from LYT Architecture said the building was designed to provide a comfortable, healthy and productive working environment for its occupants, with an overall environmental strategy encompassing transport, indoor environmental quality, energy, water and waste.
It was constructed on the site of the old Munitoria building and will provide working space for almost 1 600 city employees.
Construction started after the old Munitoria building was demolished in July 2013. Part of that archaic building was destroyed by a fire in March 1997 and never rebuilt. Although the Democratic Alliance-dominated administration will move into Tshwane House, it was the original ANC administration who commissioned the project. Financial close was successfully achieved on March 13 2015.
LYT Architecture said the brief was to consolidate office space for the city’s staff in a building that would provide adequate space for administrative processes. Fundamental components of the building are a new council chamber, efficient office space and an environment that provides a pleasant and healthy workplace for staff members.
Msimanga, whose office relocated from Centurion, said he is particularly looking forward to the centrally located council chamber.
"It is a separate structure altogether, with its own iconographic, formal architecture that makes it recognisable as an iconic landmark. Tshwane House is indeed synonymous with the identity of the city, where decisions about the city will be made, and the future of the city moulded.”
He said the move would result in better coordinated and more effective city services, as all departments will now be under one roof. For the first time in years, key officials in the city’s administration will be sharing one building.
“It sure feels like a new chapter altogether and we are looking forward to serving our residents under these renewed conditions," said Msimanga.
The new headquarters is one of the first government buildings to target a 5 Star Green Star SA certification within a public-private partnership (PPP), which includes the Tsela Tshweu construction joint venture – comprising Group Five Construction, Trencon Construction and Imbani Construction.
Sunshine is abundant in the building, which allows for 93% natural daylight. More than 70% of the office space has access to external views. Blinds have been fitted to adjust the amount of daylight to workspaces and prevent unwanted glare. Carbon dioxide monitors have been installed to ensure healthy air levels.
The initial design incorporated a basement parking structure with a "citadel-type" building on top, accessed through a single doorway. But the city felt that this did not engage the street or the public at all. Instead, a cost-effective design was revised by dropping the building to street level and creating a more pedestrian-friendly environment. Stanley said the result is a rational and elegant, but not opulent, building and an economical structure, which uses floor plate area and facades very efficiently.
A park has been incorporated on the eastern side of the site, which can be opened for public functions. This area provides space for a possible future extension to Tshwane House, which will be linked to the first phase by an interstitial corridor.
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