African Design Magazine April 2016 - Page 32

African project Africa Centre environment to better facilitate the researchers in their day to day jobs. The emphasis was to make it an appealing work environment for both local and international scientists as the building continues to be a first class centre for research. What was the full scope of work? In addition to the restoration and rejuvenation of the existing building infrastructure and a complete reorganization of many of the internal spaces, we created new spaces to accommodate the IT support team, additional storage and meeting rooms and a new ablution block. Where possible, we recycled elements from the old buildings into the new, for example, the storage facility was made from existing shipping containers combined with poles, windows and doors salvaged from the renovations, thereby reducing costs and the amount of construction waste. The look of the building was transformed with a toned-down colour scheme, new floor and ceiling finishes, LED lighting and custom-made furniture. We worked closely with the Africa Centre staff and local furniture company Raw Studios to provide modular units tailored to each space and use. Beyond the office furniture requirements, they also made innovative meeting ‘pods’, new auditorium counter tops and lounge and canteen furniture. The site was previously communal grazing land owned by the Ingonyama Trust. Were there any issues on site? From past experiences we have always found working in KZN more difficult than some of the other provinces. Dealing with extreme environmental conditions, often very hot and dry (due to the drought this year) and with high humidity and winds. The contractor had to manage complex labour issues due to the requirement to employ a substantial portion of his workforce from the local community.