The New Green Building for the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works, consolidates numerous administrative functions into one building on the Karl Bremner Hospital Campus in Belville.
It takes as its form two regular, solid blocks, linked by a volume which houses the shared activities and circulation elements. The blocks respond in size and scale to their site situation and orientations and the linking volume is conceptualised and developed as the social heart of the building.
Forthright and robust in its presence, the building appears from the freeway as a protective bastion in its sterile surrounds – solid and imposing as a landmark. This sense is achieved by the way that the detailing maintains the extreme purity of the rectangular masses of the office blocks. Brick mass wraps around and protects the transparent “void” of the offices’ floors; the voids retain their sense of transparency but are given their own layer of protection by the brick or timber screens (depending on orientation) that cover their edges. These screens, matched in palette to the brick, in turn preserve the monolithic quality of the whole – completing the dialogue of solid and void, protector and protected. The building then extends itself into the site as a built landscape that holds, protects and frames indigenous planting; rendering the planting precious and integrally rooting the building to its site.
Inside, passive design principles, filtered natural daylight, considered acoustic design and functionally sound spatial arrangements, make for an environment that is a place of wellness for work. Furthermore, a water-use strategy that ensures all storm and wastewater is organically purified and recycled at least twice daily before entering the municipal water system.
What results is amongst a very small handful of government buildings in South Africa to have achieved a five-star green rating and while the jurors expressed some concern about the integration of some public social spaces, the building was deemed well worthy of a regional Commendation.