A democratic microcosm
Boogertman + Partners
In the heart of the Sandton commercial suburb of Johannesburg, a curvilinear, reflecting complex stands as an urban landmark testifying to the presence of a giant of the South African economy. The building houses the headquarters of Discovery, bringing together under one roof around 7,000 employees and all the functions previously scattered across five buildings. The project was carried out as a joint venture between the real estate investment trusts Growthpoint Properties and Zenprop. Designed by Boogertman + Partners in close collaboration with the client with the aim of maximising employee well-being and efficiency and promoting values of transparency, efficiency, equity and care for people and the environment, it is the largest new building ever to have been awarded Green Star SA 5 star certification by the Green Building Council South Africa.
The complex is a kind of self-sufficient microcosm where employees can socialise and enjoy a range of services from catering, medical and psychological care through to physical fitness. There are gyms and wellness centres on the penultimate floor as well as a rooftop 620 metre running track and sports fields for five-a-side football, tennis and other outdoor sports activities. Highly fluid in terms of its form and organisation, Discovery Place is designed to promote creativity, growth, innovation and communication between employees and interchange between the company and its clients, who have access to the ground- and first-floor spaces housing the customer services, restaurants and conference, meeting and training rooms.
The workspace architecture consists of a series of cantilevered floors projecting onto a spectacular atrium illuminated from above, which the architects themselves conceived as a «grand central station», dominated by nine floors of open-plan offices connected by 20 escalators and 30 lifts.
The flooring material chosen for this central heart of the complex reflects the cornerstones of the company’s philosophy: it is technologically sustainable and efficient, practical, and above all aesthetically appealing and capable of meeting people’s expectations. The choice of Italian ceramic slabs that masterfully recreate the appearance of marble in this futuristic context emphasises the importance of history and nature as the starting point for any journey into the future. Roma collection tiles from Fap Ceramiche were chosen as the floor covering in the most important areas of the building. Roma Grafite Lux evoking the glossy effect of dark marble was installed in the main entrance, while the stunning central atrium was paved with the luminous Roma Statuario, its dark veins and white background reminiscent of the precious marble used for statues. The water pool in the atrium is surrounded by a series of concentric ellipses made from the same dark slabs as the entrance, cut into approximately 7.5×30 cm sizes and standing out with their matt finish against the glossy white of the floor. These two products are reprised in the interiors of one of the two restaurants, where they were chosen in a dark colour for the floor and in a pale matt finish for the sides of the counter.
FAP Ceramiche, Roma
75x75 - 75x150 cm
Grafite - Statuario
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant