Sasol, Katherine Street
The new Sasol corporate office on Katherine Street will bring together all 6000 staff members from its eleven satellite offices into one office space. The building leaps the boundary of the commercial edge of Sandton to hover as a floating glass box above an indigenous parkland.
Located in Sandton within walking distance of Sandton City and the Gautrain station, the development aims to encourage the use of alternative transport opportunities. Interestingly, the iconic S-shaped floating glass structure is also the first development of the next new precinct on Katherine Street.
The 70 000m² development will consist of a seven storey parkade with ten storeys above ground. The concept for this state-of-the-art project was inspired by Sasol’s various business units surrounding a nucleus. The central core of work activities ties the building together and the various areas are linked by a series of bridges. The contemporary workplace design allows for free movement both vertically and horizontally throughout the building.
It was important for Paragon Architects to push boundaries in this design which is characterised by light volumes externally, and two dramatic skylights articulated with acoustic baffles internally. The concept of open, transparent and remote work spaces is extended to embody the mores of Sasol with social amenities that include restaurants, canteens, art galleries, coffee shops and a Sasol One Stop Shop.
Targeting a 5-star Green Star SA certification, the Sasol corporate office aims to push ‘green’ boundaries and incorporates high performance glazing; extensive landscaping and park-scapes; a vast atrium with large skylights to allow for natural lighting; water recycling measures; and extensive insulation. Intelligent building systems will be standard in the building.
The glass façades were carefully engineered with Pure Consulting and Paul Carew from PJC Consulting to ensure that this 5-Star design satisfied both performance and aesthetic requirements. The glazing is a combination of reflective glass spandrels and vision glass, which combine to form a unified crystal façade.
Impressive outside spaces with planted areas are used as pause areas and facilities for the staff. These facilities include courtyards and braai and yoga facilities with xeriscaped planted areas. “Sasol is very committed to supporting birdlife in South Africa and we have incorporated a mini-ecosystem that will encourage, among others, bird-life, butterflies and frogs,” explains architect Tershia Habbitts. During May 2018, the building was awarded a SAIA Award of Excellence. The following text was included in the citation: " To understand something of the nature and magnitude of a building like Sasol Place, it is important to look briefly at the history of the company as well as the historical development of the urban context where the building has been placed. Before this building was constructed, the company operated from 14 different buildings, situated mainly in Rosebank in Johannesburg. Furthermore, the building needed to be energy efficient, be able to acommodate about 7500 staff and, above all, to create a physical symbol for the home of Sasol as a company.
"In the Sasol Place building there is a thoughtful and careful expression of form and function in a relatively uncontrolled urban context that portrays a deep and sensible knowledge and professionalism. It might just be that the multi-national conglomerate, Sasol, has finally found itself a home from where it could now approach the future. If anything expresses South African intellectual and corporate ingenuity on the world stage, it might also just be this building as the new symbol for Sasol.”