The Ridge: a new way of work for Deloitte

The Ridge: a new way of work for Deloitte

By Rory Macnamara

Following on from the successful completion of Deloitte’s new Africa headquarters at Waterfall City in Midrand, Paragon Interface has just completed a new workplace for the professional services firm at The Ridge at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. 

This was a high-profile project for the interior architecture company Paragon Interface, part of the Paragon Group, as The Ridge has just been awarded a 6-Star Green Star Office Design rating by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

“Maintaining the design integrity of the base building architecture while successfully incorporating the distinctively Deloitte brand experience was our aspiration for the interior of this ground-breaking ‘green’ building,” highlights Paragon Interface director, Claire D’Adorante. “The result has been a project that we are immensely proud of. The Ridge has quite a unique aesthetic – it’s industrial but still very elegant and well-detailed in response to the technical requirements of the sustainable design brief.”

deloitte the ridge atrium


The atrium at The Ridge. Photo by Gareth Griffiths (for V&A Waterfront) and Sarah de Pina (for Paragon Interface)


The Ridge is the apex of the new Portswood District green development at the V&A Waterfront. It has a gross lettable area of around 8 500m2 and consists of ground, plus three levels of office accommodation and three basement parking levels.

The ground floor accommodates the more public functions such as a Deloitte reception, client-facing meeting rooms, a staff restaurant and a Vida Café that can service both Deloitte employees and the public realm through a service hatch inserted into the covered entrance façade. The ground floor experience is completed by Deloitte’s ‘Xcelerator’, an immersive environment where clients can experience the potential of digital transformations in an innovative environment that enables the creative development of customised digital solutions.

To facilitate and encourage active movement for both employees and visitors, The Ridge has a light-filled internal atrium conceptualised as a street that runs through its centre. The workspace planning focuses on activating this street edge through the deliberate positioning of agile workspaces around the atrium to create a bustling working corridor.

Apart from the application of similar branding elements in the signage, finishes and colour scheme as at Waterfall City, The Ridge has a distinctively different atmosphere. Extensive use of natural materials such as exposed concrete, timber and glass echoes the external façade. The indoor planting completes a holistic wellness experience for users.

However, perhaps the biggest differentiator at The Ridge is the presence of exposed slabs and services, a technical requirement of the innovative chilled slab cooling solution – one of the many unique sustainability features of the building. Special acoustic panels float underneath the slabs to provide appropriate levels of sound absorption for a comfortable office environment and suspended linear low-energy LED lighting between the panels follows a similar design rhythm.

“From the beginning The Ridge was always going to be unique, and the interior really needed to respond to that brief. At the same time, it aligns the threads of Deloitte’s branding philosophy and the workplace strategy implemented at Waterfall City,” says D’Adorante.

The sustainability features at The Ridge that contributed to its green rating from the GBCSA include energy-efficient and passive climate control measures, the use of renewable energy, sustainable water handling, reducing the carbon footprint of the building and a focus on the use of natural lighting, including natural ventilation through openable windows. Energy performance has been integrated fully into the design, which maximises natural light, ventilation and manages water and waste resources efficiently.

Plumbing Africa asked the Wet Services Engineer about the project:
(Responses from Jolyon Smith, Lead Mechanical Engineer and Usisipho Mkangelwa, Wet Services Technician of ARUP.)

Can you briefly describe the design brief?

The client’s brief was to provide a building that incorporated as many sustainable technologies as reasonably possible. With the previous water crisis in Cape Town and limited availability of water resources, the wet service engineer’s design was to integrated systems that will minimise water consumption. In the design of The Ridge, we were able to include a 100m³ Rainwater harvesting system and a Greywater treatment system to provide water for flushing in the WCs and for irrigation of the planters within the building and surrounding landscaped areas of the Portswood Ridge Public Realm.

The project is provided with metered domestic cold water to supply kitchenettes, Canteen, Wash hand basin and Showers. The potable water consumption at The Ridge is minimal as the sanitaryware was specified as low flow fittings and the rainwater and greywater re-use system is used to meet the higher demands for flushing.

To achieve six-star rating what were the minimum requirements and how were these exceeded?

deloitte the ridge ground floor xcelerator landscapeGround floor Xcellerator landscape. Photo by Gareth Griffiths (for V&A Waterfront) and Sarah de Pina (for Paragon Interface)

The design to meet the Green Star criteria required installing low flow rate for water fixtures and fittings, including spray fittings on taps, and using waterless urinals. To help mitigate smells sometimes associated with waterless urinals, a twice daily short flush is provided, which is controlled by the Building Management System (BMS).  Rainwater and greywater system for all the non-potable use such as flushing and irrigation.  All the water points are metered to monitor water consumption and all the water meters are connected to BMS.

The rainwater harvesting is collected from roof and greywater collected from the building’s wastewater points such as wash hand basin and cyclist showers. This water is then filtered, treated, and re-used for flushing toilets, urinals as well as irrigation use.

The base build design has hot water for showers only, generated by heat pumps located in the naturally ventilated parking areas. For low hot water consumption areas, remote from the central risers, instantaneous hot water heaters are provided to avoid losses associated with constant recirculation of hot water over long distances.

What were the challenges one faced when designing and ‘engineering’ the project regarding all piping, fittings, harvesting, if any?

The usual challenges of coordinating the gravity drainage systems into the allocated service zones were encountered. However utilising 3D modelling using Revit assisted greatly in the coordination process. One of the main challenges was collecting the rainwater pipes below the ground floor slab, which required careful coordination to ensure that clear heights within the car park were maintained.

A similar challenge occurred at the roof full bore outlets; however, this was a coordination issue due to the introduction of upstand beams on the roof and no horizontal drainage pipes allowed inside the building. The short horizontal runs could just be accommodated cast within the slab, however providing adequate access for rodding and maintaining the rainwater down pipes required developing a coordinated detail that did not compromise the structural design and allowed for adequate weatherproofing around penetrations. Standard rodding eyes were not applicable, so a custom straight rodding eye was designed using standard fittings.

3D coordination process also helped in the design of the water and drainage reticulation within the raised access floor system that served as the ventilation plenum for the building. Around the plantrooms, the services were congested, as would be expected. Being able to coordinate the services in 3D and share this information with the contractor allowed for smoother installation process.  

Gareth Griffiths 3738Level 3 under construction. The installation of the TABS matrix of pipes into the floor slab. TABS (thermally activated building system technology) operates continuously throughout warmer months, cooling the internal environment using chilled water circulating through the floor slabs. Photo by Gareth Griffiths (for V&A Waterfront) and Sarah de Pina (for Paragon Interface)

Was there any touchless technology applied?

Bathrooms are installed with touchless sensor taps and urinals are automatically flushed connected to BMS.

What alternative energy for hot water storage was specified?

At design stage, gas water heaters were considered, however the final design reverted to heat pumps due the complexity of bringing piped gas to the building.

Solar hot water panels were considered; however, their application was discounted as the hot water produced is generally available after the peak hot water demand in the morning. The space on the roof was dedicated to the Solar PV installation instead. 

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