Etusivu / Ajankohtaista akustiikasta / Rauhallista vanhassa tupakkatehtaassa

Kuvittele täydellinen toimisto

Kuvittele täydellinen toimisto

- Calm, funky and bathed in pools of productive light

Afrikan eteläkärjessä, Etelä-Afrikan Green Building Council (GBCSA) suunnitteli itselleen toimiston, jossa he voivat toteuttaa omia tärkeimpiä arvojaan: vanhasta tupakkatehtaasa suunniteltiin maan vihrein työpaikka. Tälle pohjalle GBCSA:lla on tavoitteena muuttaa koko maan työpaikat.

Ensivaikutelma on tärkeä. Uusissa Etelä-Afrikan Green Building Council:in (GBCSA) toimistoissa silmiinpistävää on rauhallisuus ja tehokkuus.

Energinen Brian Wilkinson rientää apuun, tuoreeltaan sähköauton testiajosta. Hän on toimiston johtaja ja työpaikkojen muutoksen puolestapuhuja.

“Toimistojen muuttaminen ympäristöystävälliseksi ei vaikuta ainoastaan luontoon,” hän selittää. “Se säästää myös rahaa ja lisää tuottavuutta.” Tuottavuutta voidaan mitata sairaspoissaoloilla ja saavutuksilla. “Yksittäinen suurin yrityksen menestystekijä on tehokkaampi henkilökunta.”

Pehmeiden arvojen showroom

Jokainen yksityiskohta toimistossa suunniteltiin ihmisten viihtyvyyden ja alhaisten ympäristövaikutusten ympärille.

Valaistus ei häikäise, tuolit ovat ergonomisia, henkilökuntaa kannustetaan kävelemään tai ajamaan polkupyörällä töihin. Tämä on malliesimerkki toimistosta, jossa on käytössä for leak detection systems, occupancy sensors, energiatehokas lämmitys ja puhdas sisäilma.

Afrikan vihrein työpaikka

GBCSA:n toimisto sijaitsee valtavalla 70,000 mkokoisella Black River Park:in esikaupunkialueella Kapkaupungissa, josta näkee Pöytävuoren huiput Lion’s Head ja Devil’s Peak, jotka ovat maailmanperintökohteita.

As a condition of its lease, it encouraged the whole office park to go green. Today, it claims to be Africa’s greenest workspace, a major selling point for new tenants. Solar panels on the roof generate an impressive 1.2 MW, and downstairs are a world-class recycling facility and eco-friendly gardens. All buildings have performance glass and balcony overhangs to reduce heat and shield sunlight.

Before its rebirth, the building started life as a tobacco factory and then served as a paint factory and a biotech lab. Now it is a monument to smart recycling. The old goods lift is a welcoming library, reclaimed wood has evolved into a sculpture, old car tyres serve as chairs. The carpets are made from old fishing nets.

Prototypes pushing the boundaries

GBCSA persuaded the industry’s suppliers to use its new office as a demo model, a blank canvas on which suppliers could test new ideas.

 “Everybody pushed the boundaries,” Brian Wilkinson enthuses. “Now we’ve got a place that is stimulating, quirky and visually exciting. It’s a much happier, healthier and more exciting place to work now. This is an environment conducive to high productivity and high profit.”

Cape Town is a harsh environment, explains technical manager Jenni Lombard. The city sits at the tip of the continent, between the Indian and Atlantic oceans, with a mountain range running through it. “That makes for a lot of extreme weather. It’s hot and bright in summer, cold and dark in winter, and very windy and wet.”

Yet the office is always comfortable and bathed in pools of productive natural light, thanks to extensive modelling of natural light and thermal performance. When the sun’s glare is too intense, sensors shut the blinds, which are designed to reflect light and absorb heat.

Sound advice

The team members all comment on the unusual meditative calm of the open-plan office, the result of carefully placed acoustic panels on ceilings and walls. “Open-plan usually has terrible acoustics, with noise flying around,” says Jenni Lombard. “We planned this place to be companionable yet quiet.”

Adjustable space

The design provides enormous flexibility, with a large central area which can be curtained off as meeting rooms, or used as a lounge or presentation space.

“Not everyone does their best work behind a desk,” says technical executive Manfred Braun, “so we included different spaces for working, relaxing, thinking and collaborating.”

Green for people

One of the organisation’s main drivers is people, Jenni Lombard notes. “Our definition of green buildings revolves around people, and our focus is on indoor environmental quality (IEQ). That means air quality, temperature, lighting, noise and plants – all human stuff.”

The staff reckon their air has 150% more oxygen than most offices, thanks to flourishing indoor walls of local plants such as the pork bush and mother-in-law’s tongue, chosen to produce maximum oxygen, absorb CO2, and suck volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air.

“It’s a great space,” says Lesley Sibanda, 29, from the technical team. “I got really disturbed by phone calls in our cramped old office, but here I can really concentrate. I used to work from home a lot but now I enjoy being at work.”

Sibanda says the design facilitates collaboration. “We have the best of open-plan and private; we can engage with people, or find a private space to be alone. I now work in a much happier frame of mind.”

As acting chief financial officer, Pardon Mutasa, 31, says he is always aware of the cost of a more efficient building. “But we’re not just saving money; having more oxygen in the building keeps our brains working harder. People are more relaxed, more sociable, and the open plan gives us a cross-pollination of different characters.”

Inspiring better buildings

The Green Building Council of South Africa is an independent, membership-based, non-profit organisation that promotes, encourages and facilitates green building practices in the South African property and construction industry. It ensures buildings are designed, built and operated in an environmentally sustainable way. The council sees green buildings as a way to use resources efficiently while creating healthier and more productive environments for people and communities. It provides tools, training, knowledge, connections and networks to promote green building practices across the country.

GBCSA is one of over 100 members of the World Green Building Council. It developed the Green Star SA rating system and is the official certification body for Green Star SA projects.



Products used to create a good sound environment in the Green Building Council South Africa office:


Text: Jonathon Rees

Photographer: Rodger Bosch


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