• Corner Jellicoe Avenue and Oxford Road / Paragon Architects

Architects: Paragon Architects  
Location: Rosebank, Johannesburg,  South Africa
Project Team: Vivien Yun, Anthony Orelowitz, Yumna Ismail
Interior Décor: Paragon Architects
Project Year: 2010
Photographer: Andrew Bell
Website: www.paragon.co.za

From the Project Architect:
After many years of contentious redevelopment applications constrained by the remainder of a half-destroyed historical building, development approval was finally given in mid 2008 for an office building at the well-known corner of Jellicoe Avenue and Oxford Road.

Corner Jellicoe Avenue and Oxford Road / Paragon Architects

The ‘Tiber Rosebank’ development occupies this key site in the fast changing Rosebank node in Johannesburg with confidence. It takes a definite stance as a hard-edged work of urban architecture on the edge of the Rosebank business node, yet deals respectfully with the scale and texture of the lush forest-like setting of Johannesburg’s northern suburbs.

The 9.000 square metres of lettable area are placed in an eight-storey tower atop a raised parking podium. The decision to increase the height of the building as far as possible emanates from the client’s desire to occupy this landmark site with a ‘gateway building’. The architectural articulation arises in part from the aim to manipulate the massing of the building to good sculptural effect.

Corner Jellicoe Avenue and Oxford Road / Paragon Architects

The design relies on hard edges and shiny surfaces to give the building a crisp outline, supported by the highly contrasting charcoal grey and warm white external finishes.

In terms of planning, the building is a refined version of an H-shaped plan around a narrow vertical atrium. An eastern and a western block, clad in contrasting finishes, create a striking basic silhouette. North and south facades are faced in continuous glass curtain walls, framed by projecting wall and roof edges. Views over the surrounding landscape are maximised, both to the residential north as well as over the adjacent business node to the south.

Corner Jellicoe Avenue and Oxford Road / Paragon Architects

The east and west facades are defined by judicious placing of openings to reduce direct heat gain, and a layering of seemingly hovering sheer vertical walls. Much design effort and a fair part of the facade budget have been invested into fine-grained detailing of these walls. The grain of the architecture works at two different scales: one relating to the south-north traffic axis past the site, the other at the pedestrian and office worker scale. The building can be grasped at a glance, and stands up to closer inspection simultaneously.

At night, the filigree sunscreen covering on the eastern facade appears to dissolve and provides a finely textured setting for a projecting, internally illuminated glass box. The night-time appearance of the building was an important design consideration throughout the project.

Corner Jellicoe Avenue and Oxford Road / Paragon Architects

The raised parking plinth has been designed for intensive plant growth, with a view to softening the interface of the building to the pocket park at its base on Oxford Road.

Commercial usage at ground level has been made possible, in order to provide an active street edge. With the Rosebank Gautrain station within short walking distance, the basement has been designed so that parking bays can be removed and line shops added on the street facade. This is a future-proofing design idea that anticipates the realisation of the vision of Rosebank as a higher-density and more urban node in the city of Johannesburg.

Internally, abundant natural light reaches all parts of the floor plates. Due to constrained site dimensions, the atrium has a tall and narrow vertical forced perspective, with the view to the sky accentuated by three cone-shaped sculptural skylights painted in primary colours.

The completed development is a fitting counter-point and a respectful neighbour to the much-lauded architecture of the Park Hyatt Hotel, which at the time of its completion sparked wide debate in architectural circles. We believe that the Tiber Rosebank project sets a new benchmark for ambitious and finely crafted corporate architecture in Johannesburg.

 

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