23 Jun 2021 Cape Town’s newest 6-star Green Star Design awarded commercial building, the Ridge in the V&A Waterfront, has opened and the Cape Town office of its tenant, Deloitte South Africa, is trading from inside its unique spaces. The Ridge deploys some of the most advanced sustainable building technology available globally, as well as original blue-sky thinking. It was born from the V&A Waterfront’s vision to set new standards for the future of commercial office buildings. The final design was the result of the creative inputs of the project’s multi-disciplinary design team, which worked closely together. Over the past decade, the Waterfront has blazed a trail of sustainable development, rewarded with Green Star accreditations by the Green Building Council of South Africa. Individual buildings include the Allan Gray building at No.1 Silo, the Watershed and No.5 Silo, all 6 Green Star buildings plus a number of other firsts which include former Grain Silo which became Zeitz MOCAA (Museum of Contemporary Art Africa) and the boutique Silo Hotel, as well as No.6 Silo incorporating the Radisson Red (the first 5-star Green Star hotel). David Green, the CEO of the V&A Waterfront, explains that this project showcases the capabilities of the Waterfront as a developer in providing custom designed office or mixed-use accommodation to the highest standard in line with the needs of the customer. ”The Ridge and our other developments provide a working example as to how it can be done for companies that are looking to the future of their businesses in a sustainable way with a focus on both environmental performance and the greatest asset a company has: its people. “This development represents the confidence that our company and its shareholders have in the future of Cape Town as a destination and our confidence in South Africa itself”, he says. Vusi Nondo, the Executive Manager for Development at the V&A Waterfront explains that the Ridge has been an important milestone for the Waterfront in its rollout of bespoke office space, mixed use and retail offerings. “It has been said that working from an office post-COVID-19 will never be the same again – worldwide. Of course, that’s true, but long prior to the pandemic, the Waterfront development team identified a healthy office space that looks after the wellness of employees as being of paramount importance to any business. “Armed with a development approach we consider as ‘Our Normal’, we’ve implemented people-centred innovations in all our bespoke developments. These promote a healthy work environment, help in combating sick building syndrome and promote low carbon modes of transport. These include pedestrian footpaths, bicycle routes/parks, outdoor greened relaxation areas and even food gardens”, he says. The Waterfront’s Development Director and project leader for the Ridge, Mark Noble, explains why the office work experience is exceptional and how the Ridge’s bespoke features set it apart from other commercial buildings. “We designed the Ridge to be a world-class living, breathing building by incorporating a number of standout features, some of which are firsts for South Africa: Air quality: The building operates on mixed mode interior climate control system, which includes the following features: “Natural ventilation, which significantly raises the indoor air quality and is controlled by the occupants. This means that office workers may open the windows to let in fresh air for up to 80% of the year round. “An impressive atrium runs from ground to the third level of the building. Referred to as the ‘central street’, it helps to pull air through the building, in through the windows and out through the rooflights, while also bringing many other benefits to workers and visitors inside the building.” Minimal HVAC (air conditioning) usage: The building incorporates passive (non-energy consuming) temperature control mechanisms several of which are unique, “A virtual sum of parts that leads to a greater whole”, says Noble. The zigzag shaped engineered timber façade ingeniously orientates the glass windows towards the north or south, which prevents lower angle sun from the east or west from entering the office spaces. This provides natural daylight while reducing glare and patches of hot sunlight. “This has a major impact in promoting both fresh air quality and the saving of energy”, says Noble. Thermally Activated Building System Technology (TABS): “TABS is installed into the soffits (ceilings) above the working areas of the building and this cools the concrete structure by means of water circulating from the chiller and heat pumps on the roof. The cooler soffit hence cools the air below, which circulates around the workspace. TABS is another important contributor to the mixed mode climate control system at work inside the building”, he explains. “All these measures mean that people inside the building will experience steady indoor ambient temperatures which respond slowly to outdoor temperature variations. The mixed-mode system design aims for the building’s conventional air conditioning system to be active for only 20% of the year. This is in line with international standards such as WELL™, in promoting occupant productivity and thermal comfort”, he adds. * Development Manager for V&A Waterfront, Kirsten Goosen comments on the other features that add to the total experience of the building as an occupant. “People-connectivity is enhanced by the central street (atrium). Apart from the areas where rational fire or acoustic design required the atrium to be enclosed in a few places, it mainly allows the free movement of building occupants on each level. Hence, informal connections can occur among building occupants and their visitors. “Natural lighting includes the impressive roof lights above the atrium which allow optimal levels of natural light. This adds to conventional lighting on each floor. Low-energy LED lighting is suspended between acoustic panels to provide a stimulating work environment while the panels provide appropriate levels of sound absorption for work”, she explains. World class interior fit out and a focus on the occupant Since practical completion of the building late in 2020, the Deloitte-appointed interior design firm, Paragon Interface was on site, transforming the building’s extraordinary spaces by means of a world-class interior fitout. Workplace strategist and Paragon Interface Director, Claire D’Adorante, comments that the client’s requirement was for a work environment that emulates the very high standard set by its global client. “This means that the brief was distilled down to facilitating the way of working within the company to be in line with that of the global Deloitte brand, its corporate identity and also utilising brand intrinsic such as the use of colour. In the work areas, desk sharing and the layout, is customisable to agile working. “Collaborative work opportunities and spaces exist throughout the building, which also has an ‘activated’ atrium edge. In addition, the interior features an active working corridor and workspace. Pause or meditation spaces are balanced with social and entertainment areas, with modern facilities available for use by the office staff”. *Images courtesy of Gareth Griffiths.