At Paragon Group, it is ‘business as usual’ in these unusual global circumstances. As a company, we are strong. We have the resources and sufficient reserves to remain committed to clients and projects.
We can theorize for years and plan for crises. But there is nothing like being forced into behavior change. In the past week, we have learnt to know what ‘Business Continuity’ is and how to build.
Paragon Group has closed its physical office and has spent the past week setting up remote working methods for all team members. In South Africa, we are ‘locked down’ until midnight on 16 April 2020. Fluidity remains our reality, and the unexpected is normal.
Many people have asked us: ‘How will government make this lockdown happen?’ As if a lockdown is something you get served on a platter and which ‘government’ has to ‘deliver’ to us. The answer is this:
It is our obligation to make the lockdown happen, to influence all people in our reach, and in our communities.
If we do not activate this lockdown in our personal and business lives, we will pay the highest personal and economic price.
Paragon Group is totally committed to making the lockdown a success, as only one measure to manage the economic and social impact of COVID-19 on our economy.
We urge our team members, our consultants, our clients and our larger project communities to join us and to influence their respective communities to make the lockdown happen.
First of all, a great thank you to our Operations Director Cindy Faux for managing office health and safety and supporting us with physical requirements and practical tools. Next, we have relied heavily on Shadownet, our IT service provider, who have made the changeover as fast and as efficient as possible.
Then there are our teams, our project community, clients, consultants and our suppliers who have all joined forces to change the way we work. We thank you and salute your commitment to our working world at Paragon Group.\
We have always embraced change. We are excited by this change.
18 October 2018: Demand from clients in the Western Cape, combined with an uptick in the region’s building and construction industry, has resulted in architecture and interior architecture company Paragon finally opening a Cape Town office at the V&A Waterfront in January 2019.
The new office, the first branch that Paragon has established outside of its Johannesburg head office, will be headed up by up-and-coming architect Jarred Pincus, under the guidance of director, Estelle Meiring. He has extensive experience in warehousing, student housing, residential, and mixed-use typologies, which will equip the Cape Town office to respond to a broad range of client types and project requirements.
“We look forward to expanding our portfolio in these niche markets, as well as the general type of iconic full-service work that Paragon is renowned for,” Founding Director Henning Rasmuss comments.
“We have confirmed sufficient work to service both existing and future clients in the Western Cape region, who have all expressed a desire for us to have a presence in the region,” Founding Director Anthony Orelowitz adds.
Well-known for its work in the redevelopment of the Sandton business and financial precinct, Paragon won Architecture Firm of the Year and Best Overall Professional Services Firm of the Year, while Rasmuss was crowned Architecture Professional of the Year, at the South African Professional Services (SAPSA) Awards 2018.
Part of Paragon’s diversification strategy has seen it recently complete its first project at Pran Boulevard in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal. This strategy has since extended to setting up shop in Cape Town.
“While Johannesburg and Cape Town are essentially similar markets, our Western Cape clients have long been requesting for us to have a permanent presence in the region,” Paragon Media Manager Hugh Fraser elaborates.
“The Cape Town office is a logical extension of our footprint, as many of our current Johannesburg clients have projects on the go in the Western Cape that we can piggyback on. All our clients, no matter where they are located, can rest assured of the same high level of service, innovation, and attention to detail that we are renowned for,” Fraser adds.
Paragon’s diversification strategy includes Africa, where a flagship project is Habitat Apartments in Kilimani, a 24-storey, 160-unit mixed-use apartment tower, in conjunction with Design Source of Nairobi. Under development by Ekco Investments, the project is scheduled for completion by mid-2020.
Group company Paragon Interface, which oversees interior architecture services under Director Claire D’Adorante, was responsible for the fit-out of Discovery Campus and Sasol Place, two of the biggest projects of their kind ever undertaken in South Africa.
Group company Paragon Architects South Africa (PASA), under Director Thulani Sibande, was awarded a Level 1 Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) rating for 2018. As part of its active corporate social responsibility initiatives, Paragon is currently heavily involved with the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ’s) Graduate School of Architecture (GSA), where its architects deliver guest lectures. Paragon looks forward to increasing their educational support in the Western Cape.
Our director Henning Rasmuss attended the 9th African Property Investment Summit in Sandton last week.
The audience was diverse, if smaller than expected, and the discussions and presentations were honest and muted. There was a fair degree of introspection. New connections were made, and old friendships strengthened. Mauritius is emerging as a property investment talking point, and we are already looking at projects in that country.
With the pervasive underperformance of the South African economy, continental Africa remains attractive, even if it is difficult and takes immense patience. There were stories of both failures and successes, and some very fine people have had their spirits and their businesses tested to extremes in the recent past.
Noteworthy talking points were: the role and reach of local in-country Pension Funds, the growth of South African listed investment funds, GRIT’s listing on the LSE, and asset classes such as Logistics Parks, Student Housing and Affordable Housing. There was at last an informed discussion on what the ‘affordable’ part of ‘affordable housing’ actually means in different economies.
With the Oil Price returning to levels where African countries see the ‘easy money’ of extractive industries once more, there is a return to some confidence. Paragon Architects, for example, is receiving up to 12 enquires per month from the continent. This is however in contrast to the approximately 35 enquiries per month we received in 2015, just after the global oil price crash.
However, extractive economies cannot create enough employment for the much-vaunted Youth Population of the African continent. The continent has to industrialise and beneficiate its natural assets, and this requires intra-African investment and focus. China continues to seduce African governments with deals and projects that appear to be good deals, but whose real price tags are not measured in dollars or yuan, but in future political control and voting support for China in global geopolitics. ‘Recolonization’ is not quite the right word for what is happening on the continent. It is more like low-price subscription to future economic enslavement, and South Africa is seeing its first wave of Chinese incursion into our construction landscape, in the context of endemic failure of South African contracting businesses.
Paragon Architects is gravely concerned about which companies will be around to construct our South African large projects, in a few years’ time.
As part of the International Lecture Series presented by the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, Henning Rasmuss was invited to present on 6 September 2018 in Johannesburg. Those of you who know Henning know that we can go on a bit, but his almost two-hour talk took some listening. As far as Henning could tell, no-one walked out of the talk because of hunger.
The lecture was a precious opportunity for a sweeping overview of Henning’s architectural career to date, starting in his formative childhood years in boomtown Johannesburg, his student years at Wits University and in Berlin, his early works at Stauch Vorster Architects and in Hong Kong, and aspects of the work of Paragon group and the various companies that have made up his current working home over the years.
It was a good time to reflect, to thank mentors and teachers and business partners, and to make it clear that architecture is a large and complex and collaborative project. Henning personally hates the self-aggrandising posturing of architects as ‘sole authors’ of projects. His talk was much more about anecdotal story-telling and about hard lessons learnt, and about his share of his own life force that makes Paragon so unique and vibrant. As he said in his opening statement : ‘I am what I am through other people’.
We have two construction projects on site in Swaziland, where the 165-room Hilton Garden Inn in Mbabane will open its doors in the next few weeks. Also in Swaziland, we have more than 150 units of housing in construction. We worked with Steve Hall Development Consultants as our local JV partner, and are very pleased with the working relationship that has developed.
In Maputo, we are working on a business hotel of 150 rooms in Maputo, for which a global operator has been secured and funding is being concluded. We are working with Vedor Arquitectos on the concept.
In Zambia, a large mixed-use project is keeping our design teams busy in the next two months.
In Mavoko in Kenya, we are a few months away from the completion of a very long-running project, the 24.000 square metre Crystal Rivers Mall, undertaken for the Safaricom Staff Pension Scheme as client. Our co-architect is MMI International, who have joined us on the difficult journey of building this Mall with a Kenyan main contractor who is well out of his depth in this project.
Also in Nairobi, we are just casting the first floor slab above ground (after two basement levels) of a 22-storey tower known as The Habitat. The project is the initiative of Ekco Investments, a local Kenyan family business of high calibre and high expectations. Our co-architects Design Source Limited are the great associate partners that we already knew and respected them for when this project started and they introduced us to the client.
In Airport City in Accra, seeds sown in 2013 are bearing fruit. Together with rhayCAD Chartered Architects as our local partners, we have submitted building approval plans for a 340-room hotel and apartment complex to be operated by Accor Hotels under the Pullman brand. The project is now in full documentation. Ground could be broken by the end of 2018 for our Ghanaian clients, Platinum Properties Limited. We are working hard to resolve the design and detailing before the main contractor is on our case with Requests for Information.
Paragon Interface Architects is implementing a multi-level office interior for an oil sector services company in Lagos, under the leadership of Profica as project managers. We value this relationship and the opportunity, which was won in a competitive bid.
We are implementing collaborative workplace projects in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, based on a competition-winning concept design of late 2017.
Other project discussions are in the air for locations such as Senegal, Mauritius, Uganda, Tanzania, Côte D’Ivoire and more opportunities in Ghana.
As Kevin Teeroovengadum said on a public stage at the API Summit in 2016: ‘If you have not yet realised that African property development is a very long-term game, you should leave this game now’. Well, it’s 2018, and we are still in ‘the game’. We know what it takes to implement on the African continent, and we do it with the passion and commitment that Paragon is known for.
Paragon Interface have become a finalist in the Office Design category of the SBID International Design Awards 2018.
The SBID Awards is regarded as one of the most prestigious accolades in the interior design industry, representing talent and design excellence across all corners of the industry. Each entry undergoes an exclusive two-tier judging process by panels of leading industry experts for both technical content and aesthetic creativity as well as evaluating brief compliance, budget, health & safety, and fit-for-purpose design.
Paragon Interface‘s project “DISCOVERY PLACE” was selected by the technical panel of judges in the first stage of the process. The public are now invited to cast their votes for their favourite entries at www.sbidawards.com, as their votes will contribute towards the overall results. Last year, the awards received over 100,000 unique voters during the voting period.
CLICK HERE to show your support and vote for Paragon Interface‘s project.
The Office Design category is dedicated exclusively to office design. Entries had to reflect how the concept creates a pleasant, efficient workspace that meets the needs of both the client and the employees who work in the space.
Entries for this category were received from countries such Australia, Canada, Taiwan, Ukraine, Dubai, China, Russia., Egypt and more.
Founder and CEO of SBID, Dr Vanessa Brady OBE says: “We have had an overwhelming number of entries this year from more countries than in previous, the calibre of finalists across all 14 categories, is a true reflection of the creative scope of the global design industry, depicting an international portfolio of projects from over 42 countries worldwide.”
Public voting will close on Friday 24 August at 5.00pm GMT; The winners will be announced and awarded with a bespoke crystal trophy designed by Sans Souchi glass deco at the official ceremony, held at The Dorchester hotel in London on Friday 26 October.
An Overall Winner will also be awarded for the project that gains the most votes overall from the judge’s choices and the public votes combined.
Judges this year include Directors and CEO’s from global design corporations such as Christian Louboutin Beauté, BBC, National History Museum, Belmond, Walpole, Bentley, Google, AECOM and more.
All winners and finalists will be featured in the Global Interior Design 2018 book which is distributed to over 1000 professionals across the globe.
The Paragon Group’s Founding Directors Henning Rasmuss and Anthony Orelowitz would like to inform all of its clients that it is in no way linked to, representative of, or associated with the company Paragon Interiors. This is a completely different and separate company that has absolutely no connection or affiliation with the Paragon Group.
“Paragon Interiors is an unrelated company. There has never been cross-shareholding or related interests between that company and any of the Paragon Group companies, its directors and shareholders,” Rasmuss comments.
The Paragon Group specialises in both architecture and interior architecture. It consists of Paragon Interface Architects, which is responsible for interior design and workspace planning, under Director Claire D’Adorante; Paragon Architects, led by Orelowitz and Rasmuss; and Paragon Architects South Africa, under Director Thulani Sibande, which was recently awarded a Level 1 Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment rating for 2018.
The Paragon Group is generally referred to as ‘Paragon’ in the media, and in the local property and construction industry, as an umbrella name for the diverse range of architecture and interior architecture services it offers. However, this in no way infers a connection to Paragon Interiors, a totally different company.
With reference to the article published in the Financial Mail of 12 July 2018 regarding Paragon Interiors and the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), entitled ‘Has SAICA lost its way’, the Paragon Group categorically states that the allegations contained therein have no bearing on the Group, or its constituent companies, namely Paragon Interface, Paragon Architects, and Paragon Architects South Africa. SAICA is not, and has never been, a client of any of the Paragon Group companies.
The Paragon Group is one of the leading architecture and interior architecture practices in South Africa, and has been involved in some of the most iconic projects that are helping to redefine the ‘new’ Sandton financial and business hub.
The Paragon Group subscribes to the highest levels of business ethics and gender diversity. It is actively involved in skills development and training, and helping uplift the standard of debate in the local architectural community, in conjunction with a growing presence across Africa.
The payment of ‘incentives’ to clients, or the pursuance of financial benefit through supplier incentives, ‘discounts’, or ‘kickbacks’ is explicitly forbidden in all business contracts of the Paragon Group, and has never formed part of the income model of the Paragon Group companies.
Well-known for its landmark Sandton projects such as Sasol Place, the Discovery Campus, and the Alice Lane Precinct, Paragon Senior Project Architect Christiaan Liebenberg points out that Midway Industrial Park is equally iconic. Directly adjacent to the N1 highway, within the busy Samrand precinct, it is a site that not only slopes and exposes towards the highway, but also slopes towards the south, opening up very good views toward the building.
The unique design lines, feature compositions, striking colour contrasts, relief cladding surfaces, and varied surface textures make it stand out substantially in comparison to most industrial and warehouse buildings. “The idea was to purposely fragment the façade into strong design elements that not only unify the building, but also intentionally integrate services and minimise its visual mass,” Liebenberg elaborates.
The main aim was to maximise usage on the property for both warehouse space and delivery and dispatch facilities. Maximising the usable space internally and externally provides the most flexibility in terms of tenants that can be accommodated on the property, as well as facilitating well-designed front-of-house (FOH), back-of-house (BOH), administration and operations service, with increased access and functionality.
These main goals were achieved by relaxing building and servitude lines as much as legally permissible. In addition, the building height was maximised in accordance with the approved Site Development Plan, in order to accommodate tenants’ specific needs.
Due to the fall of the site, some drastic level changes had to be introduced, which could potentially limit the usage and flexibility required by the client. This was resolved by a calculated splitting of the building length into two parts, providing either two very large warehouse spaces, or two sets of two smaller spaces.
Stormwater drainage also posed a challenge, which was addressed through a combination of well-drained platforms, carefully-placed stormwater inlets, and a large stormwater attenuation pond on the south-western corner of the site. This attenuates the collected stormwater, reducing the water volume and speed at which the site’s stormwater enters the municipal and highway stormwater systems.
The masonry base of the façades intentionally incorporates functional requirements easily, but also minimise potential operational damage to the building’s sheeting. Due to the nature of the building’s use, using sheeting at lower levels will have meant a lot more maintenance and repair in the long term.
Large horizontal ventilation louvres on the south provide the required natural and smoke ventilation requirements, in conjunction with continuous slope- and ridge-mounted ventilators on top of the building. This allows for smoke ventilation, and assists greatly in cooling the warehouse spaces without the need for mechanical ventilation. Large polycarbonate sheeting regions on the south façade also provide for substantial daylight provision within the warehouse spaces.
To the north of the building, where the office components are housed, aluminium-framed windows and shopfronts have been used, with thermal-performance glazing throughout. To support the thermal performance of the glazing, horizontal shading devices have been positioned over all windows, large canopies placed over entrance shopfronts, and carefully-designed vertical shading louvres used on the large north-western glazed corner of the building.
Sanitaryware fittings such as basin taps, toilets, and showers are low-flow and low-usage fittings. Lighting in the office areas is either LED or low-wattage fittings, while the lighting in the large warehouse spaces is LED, and all mechanical equipment is energy-efficient. The building as a whole complies fully with SANS 10400 Part XA (Energy Efficiency) requirements.
Paragon assisted some of the tenants in checking their racking requirements in terms of space and structural limitations, as well as providing fit-out designs and integration with the building and its services. In addition, Paragon designed the interiors of the bathrooms and fire-escape stairs throughout the building.
Our stunning projects continue to win some of the biggest awards in the industry, confirming our reputation as one of the most innovative architecture and interior architecture practices in South Africa.
We are proud to announce that Sasol Place scooped one out of five building Awards for Excellence, while Alice Lane 3 won an Award of Merit, at the prestigious SAIA Awards 2018 gala banquet held in Pretoria on Friday 4 May.
Well done to the Paragon teams who worked so hard on these iconic buildings!