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Energy Works, The
Parktown North, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Client:Rupert & Sarah McKerron
2010SAIA Award of Merit


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26°08'57.31" S 28°01'56.64" E Alt: 1629m

Award Citation

The project required that an office block and two small dwellings be added to an existing house on a property sited on the edge of the residential area of Parkwood, Johannesburg. The client is a health care company whose founders wanted their development to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The design of an open and stimulating work environment coupled with a contemporary and professional image was the other main requirement. The site location demanded that a residential component be included. As a result a part of the site was dedicated to the office component and another to the residences, leaving a large circulation space in between. All the established trees were maintained. The old paved driveway was removed and replaced with a gravel surface, limiting water runoff.

The orientation, shape and external envelope of each building were designed to receive the maximum natural sunlight in winter and the minimum in summer. Concern for sustainability was manifested by:

  1. Energy-saving and on-site production. The choice of lighting systems, the abundant natural lighting, and the use of gas for cooking reduce the energy requirements, while the photovoltaic panels cater for the electricity for all office equipment. The passive solar design and flat-bed panels produce hot water for the floor heating and taps.
  2. Water economy and on-site harvesting. The choice of water-saving fittings, coupled with rainwater harvesting and borehole water filtration, help meet the entire needs of the development.
  3. Carbon footprint in the building process. This was reduced by the conservation of the existing house, taking advantage of the embedded energy of the materials used and their recyclability, as well as general preference for locally manufactured versus imported components. For example, while aluminium has one of the highest carbon footprints, it has a very high performance and is fully recyclable and manufactured locally, so it was chosen as the best material for the movable facades, after other options such as bamboo and fabric were examined.
A user of the building recorded that in summer the large outside water tanks captured rainwater, while in winter the building relied on a borehole.

Other 'green' features are that renewable substances - bamboo and cork - were used wherever possible inside the building, while the indigenous plants outside require no watering. The double-storey building was enclosed with shutters so that the occupants are easily able to control the sunlight shining into the building, which relies more on natural than artificial light.

The panel noted that the whole site functions as a quiet oasis next to an extremely busy traffic corner. It comfortably includes commercial office space and residential buildings on the same site, with adequate parking. The old house is conveniently incorporated into the office complex. All of this is neatly done. What makes the project stand out is its conscious and manifest utilisation of 'green' architecture. Clearly this creates an attractive setting for the sale of health products. Staff are motivated and clientele attracted. It is not only the environment that is sustained, but the health care company itself. The panel is of the view that the project meritoriously serves as a pioneering example of how architecture can simultaneously serve green and commercial ends.

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Books that reference Energy Works, The

South African Institute of Architects. 2010. Awards : South African Institute of Architects. Awards for Excellence, Awards of Merit, Regional Awards for Architecture 2009/2010. Cape Town: Picasso for SAIA. pg 42-43, 87