Although not a drawing office themselves, as a company in the business of working with large drawings daily, when Probuild Construction decided to redesign their offices it was sure to result in something unique. The outcome is a spatially uncompromising layout of cubicle-type offices custom-designed and well-suited to their particular needs.
Probuild has recently been showing good growth and there was a clear need for expansion. As such, the company has taken over more space within their current office park, its own Probuild Commercial Park in Midrand, and I.Scope Interior Architects assisted with the design and building of a link between the old and new building as well as incorporating the new space into Probuild’s overall look and feel.
I.Scope Interior Architects have been practising the art of interior design for 16 years. The company specialises in the design of all aspects of the living and working environment, with its forte being private corporate clients, commercial developers and architects. The services of the company include space planning, design and décor and turnkey management of the entire building process. “We had already successfully revamped Probuild’s existing office space when they took the decision to take over and grow into the building next door,” explains Cathy Jones from I.Scope. “We worked very closely with the architects in designing a ‘link’ building in the space between the two buildings, moving the reception and meeting areas into this space and rearranging the existing ones to suit the flow of the Probuild office.” New well-finished and spacious offices, to tie in with the existing offices available, were then built in the ‘new’ wing.
The building which Probuild originally occupied was dated in terms of finishes and was an inappropriately planned space for the company’s unique requirements. The interiors also did not reflect the young, vibrant and professional look of its occupants. Now, when you walk through the doors of the glass-fronted building into a double-volume space flooded with natural light, you are transported from the typical formal nature of an office park into a welcoming and warm environment.
“With building construction being a part of the client’s business, we felt it suited their identity to create a definite ‘construction’ look to the design of the interiors, with some exposed services and steel work showing the ‘bones’ of the building, so to speak,” says Jones. “There is a fine balance of this juxtaposed with minimalist finishes, furniture and lighting which brings the space together beautifully as an unpretentious whole.” Lighting plays a central role in the design, and both boardrooms of the main reception feature unusual fittings, while three oversized ‘pendants’ hang down over the reception, providing one of many interesting focal points.
Jones says that the inspiration behind the design of the 1 130m² building was the characters of the three partners – Nicholas and Philip Buck and Michael Simmonds – and their company as a whole. “The interior design of their building is like a three-dimensional representation of how we perceive their unified style, their approach to, and appreciation of, good design and exceptional quality,” she remarks.
When asked about the added implications of trying to link the old and the new building, Jones explains that there were practical issues involved, such as the difference in floor and roof heights as well as the dated look of the outside of the architecture of the existing two buildings which they were not allowed to change, as the buildings had to remain in keeping with the office park. “Instead of trying to match the two buildings, the solution was to go the opposite route and create a new modern building link, which was very successful,” she says.
Jones describes the design of the interiors of the Probuild Construction offices as slightly minimalist, contemporary and with a splash of modern style. And when quizzed on her and I.Scope’s signature design style, she said, “Many people have asked us this over the years and the word that keeps coming back to me from all our clients is a sense of ‘timelessness’.” With this in mind, she says that introducing a timeless design to suit the clients’ long-term investment in their space is one of the elements which she considers the most important in her work. “The finished product should stand up to wear and tear, be easy to maintain and have a life-span exceeding five years in terms of design.” Thus when it comes to sustainable initiatives in design, she believes that the most sustainable design is that of longevity. “If a space is properly planned and well-built there is no need for change – ever!” she states.
Light and bright space
Significant features of the interiors are the textured off white walls which are peppered throughout the building (one in the larger 12-seater boardroom is adorned with building implements such as trowels and hammers, leaving visitors in no doubt as to what business the company is involved with) and a sense of lightness, enhanced by the daylight streaming through the glass frontage, the cool palette of colours and the light, maple laminated flooring.
The public reception and meeting room space, completed by another 10-seater boardroom, is set apart from the more private canteen and office areas by an interesting and distinctive feature made of brightly decorated hard hats (introduced originally as a competition to the Probuild staff. The best ones were then selected to create feature screen walls), another hint to the function of the company. Frosted glass sliding doors to the boardrooms add a sense of transparency while still offering privacy.
“There were no challenges to this project,” came the emphatic reply from Jones when questioned on the unique challenges presented by this particular task. “We have a long-standing working history of carrying out successful projects such as these with Probuild. As such, and as Probuild were completing their own construction, the project ran very smoothly.” When asked about the experience, Jones responds: “We really enjoyed working on this project as the client was open to new suggestions and ideas. We also find great pleasure in projects such as these where we are able to influence how the architecture suits the interiors, and not the other way around.”