The Discovery Health head office, with a Gross Lettable Area (GLA) of 107 000 sqm and a total construction area of 327 000 sqm, stands out in the heart of the Sandton central business district. It brings together 8 500 employees in a workspace designed to reflect and embody a thriving, healthy internal environment.
Paragon Interface was declared Office Design Winner for 1 Discovery Place at the prestigious Society of British and International Interior Design (SBID) International Design Awards 2018, held at the Dorchester Hotel in London in the UK on 26 October last year. This represents major global recognition of South African talent and expertise, Paragon Interface Director Claire D’Adorante comments.
“We are very proud to have won this award, and what it means for the South African interior design industry. This was a once-in-a-lifetime project that was not only an immense privilege for the entire team to work on, but one that has placed South African design firmly on the map, as showcased by this international accolade.”
The building comprises three linked office volumes, each with a ground floor and eight office floors, with an activated roof level spanning the entire structure. It achieved its 5-Star Office V1 Green Star design rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) in 2017, and was completed in 2018.
The interior design effectively promotes an active lifestyle through careful design and planning. This meant that the movement of people throughout the building had to be considered carefully. The end result is multiple opportunities to circulate vertically and horizontally between floors and departments using open-aspect stairs, escalators, and elevators.
It essentially consists of two atria joined by a large central concourse, with a 2 800 m2 glazed glass roof to emphasise natural light and openness. The roof area itself has been landscaped with xeriscaping, and boasts a running track, with a fully-equipped gym, a yoga deck below, and various multi-purpose areas. Apart from comprising an exercise area, the roof itself gives workers an opportunity to pause during their normal busy working schedules.
The design of the two atria is also in line with the key concepts of wellness and holistic living. The fact that the atria are of different sizes translates into two different experiences. The larger atrium is an active, energizing space, while the smaller atrium is a calming, more peaceful environment. The central concourse serves to connect the two atria, representing a sense of balance between the ‘active’ and ‘calming’ elements.
Paragon Interface also paid careful attention to the interior fit-out, especially in terms of the acoustics in the office areas and across the general floor space. This involved the use of Class A ceiling tiles, furnishings, and soft edges to the atria by using foliage. A trellis wall of greenery provides an abundant backdrop to the main reception, incorporating the Discovery logo itself, and thereby providing a subtle yet tangible link between the brand and the overarching concept of wellness.
An agile working environment means the spaces never feel crowded, and allow for staff to have various work settings, depending on their task, which D’Adorante adds is a particular achievement of the careful attention paid to the interior design. There are public spaces across the ground floor, centralised meeting rooms, and numerous retail outlets and coffee shops throughout the large volumes, which still retain an intimate scale around its workspaces.