Paragon Architects was appointed as the architects for Sasol Place, Johannesburg. This is Sasol’s office based in Sandton, Johannesburg. The client is a very large multinational Petrochemical Organisation with a wide variety of business units and activities. The aim with this building was to replace their current occupation of 14 buildings in Rosebank and elsewhere in Johannesburg and unify the Sasol corporate culture.
The building concept for this state-of-the-art development was inspired by Sasol’s various business units surrounding a nucleus and consists of a central core and integrated floor-plate with bridges that lead to the various departments. The contemporary workplace design allows for free movement, both vertically and horizontally throughout the building. Interestingly, the iconic S-shaped floating glass structure is also the first development that will lead the way in opening up the next new precinct on Katherine Street.
A central core of circulation and services ties the building together and the various areas are linked by a series of bridges. The major challenge was the site, which is on a curving edge of Katherine Street, and to ensure a large building of 68,000 sqm could be accommodated and well connected, both vertically and horizontally. The building will accommodate up to 7500 people and leaps the boundary of the commercial edge of Sandton to sit as a floating glass box hovering above an indigenous parkland.
The glass façades were carefully engineered to ensure that this 5-Star Green Star design satisfied performance and aesthetic requirements. The glazing is a combination of reflective glass spandrels and vision glass, which combine to form a unified crystal façade. It was important to push the boundaries in this design, which is characterised by light volumes externally and two dramatic skylights articulated with acoustic baffles internally. These elements drive a concept of light and airy.
The building had seven basements levels, with ten storeys above ground. The concept of open, transparent and remote workspaces was extended to embody the mores of Sasol to include interactive facilities such as restaurants, canteens, art galleries and coffee shops. Externally, the park-like staff facilities include varying planted indigenous biomes comprised of differing landscapes – wetlands, grasslands forests and savannah areas.
Sasol’s landscape concept draws from the acknowledgement of three primary aspirations. Sasol’s branding is integrally blended with its interior design which is underpinned with clean lines and an elegant aesthetic, which define its expression and identity. This was extended to the furniture which was a heavily customised version of the Abak range. The client worked very closely with Paragon Interface and Herman Miller on the development of this range. The first is to provide the building with a base and perimeter that is almost entirely a greened zone. The second aspiration is to provide a landscape that is as fluid and interactive as the architecture it supports. The third influence develops in response to, and in celebration of, the Sasol Group’s clear commitment to the conservation of natural habitats and environments.
Paragon Interface was responsible for the interior design, space planning and service co-ordination commission.