Giving more than it gets
SA Building Review|Volume 8 2020
To expand its physical footprint, MDA Attorneys acquired and rebuilt their office on a prominent site on the corner of West and Riviera in Houghton. Green principles were key from the outset; and yet the results, which include a Net Zero Carbon pilot certification, surpassed all expectations. Here’s how the process unfolded...

‘The existing building, an old home-office conversion that had been unceremoniously gutted and altered over the years, was re-orientated to present views and a frontage over the M1 highway,’ says Michael Magner, director at Activate Architecture. ‘We then added a floor to the building, a steel structure hovering over the single storey portion of the project, which enabled a fairly time and cost-efficient construction process. This addition brought the gross floor area up to 912m 2 and allowed us to create a large open-plan space without adding loads to the structure below. It also provided a striking new image for the building.’

With the “reduce, reuse, recycle” philosophy in mind, project architect Vivien Yun adds that the intention was to enhance the essence of the 100-year-old house, while adding a new, modern intervention to reflect MDA as a forward-thinking organisation. A reminder of the building’s past life, for example, includes the restoration of the original timber staircase. The new office space boasts various places to work privately or collaboratively, as well as to interact socially. Its sensible design works to enhance the productivity of its users, along with reducing natural resource depletion – the cornerstones of sustainable building.

Optimal efficiency

Solid Green were the appointed sustainability consultants on the project. Director Chilufya Lombe explains that when designing a building for Net Zero, it is critical that passive design and energy efficiency features are incorporated, well before renewable energy systems are even considered.

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