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Creating sustainable, innovative architecture

by Media Xpose

Koen and Associates Architecture is an award-winning Design & Build infrastructure development company. Over the last 10 years, its proven track record puts the customer at the centre. The company is a specialist in the redevelopment of commercial typologies, namely retail, industrial, offices and high-density residential.

Koen and Associates work in a close-knit team of professionals who bring experience and expertise to the table. Founded in 2011, it has the drive to create sustainable, innovative architecture and deliver excellence, and aims to enrich the human experience through architectural developments. Its vision is to provide quality, sustainable and economical environments that heighten and enhance the knowledge and promote the development of the users whilst satisfying the client’s brief.

The company exists to develop the best design solutions that are both tech-savvy and that make financial sense. Successful projects require complex teams, and Koen and Associates’ in-house team of expert designers, quantity surveyors, projects managers, contract managers, site supervisors, and support staff, work out every detail of a project and exceed expectations.

The Design & Build delivery model is a best practice delivery method with single point accountability, which means that agreed-upon developer project goals form the organisational compass for the entire team and project. Koen and Associates design spaces that improve the occupant’s quality of life using an aesthetic that pushes boundaries while being sensitive to the environment. It views design as a holistic process, considering human needs while interpreting the main commercial objectives of the building.

Rand Mutual Assurance, Parktown, Johannesburg

A growing trend in open-plan offices has been proven to affect the rate of productivity and the general operating order in modern offices. Research studies demonstrate that the impact of the open-plan office on humans has a significantly positive influence on office function and interaction.

The mix of spaces also highlights other amenities such as conference and training areas, private spaces where formal meetings are held, collaborative spaces where informal meetings take place, as well as the need for open workspace in jobs benefiting from teamwork and or knowledge/skills sharing (Kendra Cherry, 2019). Koen and Associates’ client, Rand Mutual Assurance (RMA), recently celebrated a notable 186 years having successfully provided insurance for the South African mining industry. RMA appointed Koen & Associate Architecture to re-invent the traditional office space at their new home located at 10 St Andrews Parktown, to celebrate their achievement.

An energetic & symbiotic relationship between ‘work–pause–collaborate’

Koen & Associates Architects aimed to renovate the typical office environment from its previously mundane, separated layout, to one which is open, integrated and where programmes flow effortlessly, encouraging an energetic and symbiotic relationship between ‘work–pause–collaborate’. This environment includes all individuals yet collectively represents the client, RMA, and all it stands for – caring, compassion, compensation. Eliminating the culture, offices and cubicles results in enhanced collaboration and relationship building, allowing for future flexibility.

Construction costs for the project were reduced by using a modern industrial design, exposing all previously hidden services like AC units, lighting and cables. The building is set to be given a ‘green facelift with green systems, such as a monitoring system, to log trends against consumption and alert facilities management via email if there is an excess in consumption.

The lighting power density achieves an energy use of less than 1.5W/m²/100lux for 98.1% of the usable office area using the Green Star-recommended method of calculation. Among other things, water-saving sanitaryware, including sensory low-flush systems, assist in conserving water in the building.

The space allows for freestanding office desks, private meeting areas, collaborative spaces as well as lounge settings. Studies show that it is important for the brain to rest and reload; pause areas allow for this while the lounge settings promote socialising and strengthening amongst the team, revealing the need for rigid time control, and giving the employees a sense of responsibility and empowering them to manage their time in an unconstrained manner.

The use various floor and wall finishes are applied to define spatial function, doing away with the traditional solid wall. This promotes open space and allows access to natural light and sensory artificial light in occupied spaces. Decorative acoustic panels and bulkheads will serve both as an aesthetic and sound buffering purpose.

A combination of textures and colours set a mood that is both calm and vigilant, while primarily being connected to the company’s corporate identity. Flexible furniture was specified to allow for future changes and reorganisation.

The traditional walled office with its pyramid organogram is outdated. The new open-plan space works for a more modern collaborative workforce who share, like and tweet. The current layout allows a flatter chain of command in new business with spontaneous sharing of information. The move to a new space is indicative of why RMA as a company has managed to maintain its 186 years of success. Keeping up with the current trends and needs of its workforce and consumers.

NEMISA, Parktown, Johannesburg

The National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA) operates from a modern office and studio complex centrally situated in Parktown, Johannesburg. The revitalised institute will now have a newly refurbished building that relates to the dynamic and creative hub that the institute represents.

The building’s unusual spaces allowed Koen Architecture to interject a four-storey atrium with a central communicating stairway that serves as a central link to all classrooms and offices. To create a stronger entry and to link the inside and outside spaces, the proposal allows daylight into the building – the windowless facade is replaced with a two-storey glass curtain wall that will give NEMISA an instant presence in the neighbourhood.

A key project goal is to create an environment that encourages collaborative learning and creativity and is flexible enough to evolve with the introduction of new technologies and methodologies.

The final design resulted in an iconic building that speaks to creativity and collaboration, in both the music sense and business sense. Today the building is hard to miss and truly a great example of modern aesthetic coupled with exquisite workmanship.

Dobson Point, Soweto

Dobson Point is a great example of a retail extension that falls under community and redevelopment in Dobsonville. Built in 2009, it was the first centre of its kind that represented an early symbol of economic development. The centre provides a pleasant, safe, and convenient place for people in the community to shop and socialise. The 3952m2 shopping centre has 39 stores with a variety of tenants such as Pick n Pay, MacDonald’s and KFC.

The client brief to Koen and Associates was to give the shopping centre a fresh and modern look, creating a more appealing centre to the community. Renovating and updating of shopping centres has a direct impact on the perception of the centre’s atmosphere. Renovations reinforce the landlord’s commitment to the tenants and consumer trends and expectations, thus increasing shopper traffic and spending, resulting in greater returns for the tenants and landlord.

Koen and Associates will begin with updating the existing façade while keeping within budgetary constraints. South Africa is currently within an economic downturn and because of this turbulent economic environment the feasibility of the project had to be in keeping with the landlords’ projections and were required to match up to growing affluence in the area.

Dobson Point is an ongoing project that now requires innovative solutions for the future of 2022 and beyond.

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