Together for tomorrow


Architect of Change 4: Malcolm Campbell on the greening of a government building

by | Oct 25, 2018

Aimed at increasing resource efficiency and making a positive contribution to the central business district in Khayelitsha, this office building has a five start green star rating from the Green Building Council.  Malcolm Campbell from ACG Architects and Development Planners tell us more here:

What were the specs of the project? The two key elements of the brief were to design a building which would support operational efficiency in terms of service delivery through the clustering of resources and would achieve a five star green rating [from the Green Building Council]. The latter was aimed at increasing resource efficiency whilst maintaining adequate occupant comfort. An additional consideration was that at an urban design level, the building makes a positive contribution to the fledgling central business district of Khayelitsha, a rapidly growing settlement housing poorer communities on the outskirts of the Cape Town Metro. The building was meant to serve as a pilot for exploring the replication of this model within the Western Cape Province.

Describe the building. The building is a seven storey structure, which includes a semi-basement parking floor which can accommodate 35 vehicles. The six floors comprise mainly open plan office space, with the addition of a 250 seat auditorium and support facilities on the ground gloor. The offices are for the Provincial Government Departments of Health, Agriculture, Education and Social services, with the Department of Health being the largest tenant. The building has been designed so that reception, boardrooms and registry spaces can be shared between departments.

How are the current tenants of the building experiencing it? The building is only partially occupied and feedback has thus far been positive. For many the building provides a significant improvement on levels of accommodation previously experienced. Innovations such as the Integrated Building Management System, which monitors energy consumption and allows for fine tuning and corrective measures, is also not fully operational, and it is expected that once this is the case, there will be a greater appreciation of the value of the green interventions in the building.

How has it impacted its neighbourhood? Khayelitsha comprises mainly single- and double storey structures, so the building as a seven storey structure is a significant landmark structure visible from afar, and sign posting the CBD and the regional hospital alongside which it is located. Careful consideration has been given to how the building is accessed by pedestrians and the building features a covered walkway from the ramp that collects people approaching the building to the building entrance.

Is there anything you’d change? Yes, the way in which services are accommodated on the roof of the building. The size, shape and juxtapositioning of the services only fully became apparent during the construction phase, when it was too late to accommodate these more effectively from a design point of view. This is one part of the building I would be keen to change!

 What are you most proud of the building? I am most proud of the fact that it works as a ‘green’ building and that we as a team were successful in achieving a Five Star Green Star rating.

It was the first public building in the Western Cape to attain a Five Star Green Star Rating. Congratulations. What criteria did you meet? For achieving a Five Star Green Star rating, we targeted points in the following seven areas: Management, Indoor Environment Quality, Energy, Transport, Water, materials and Emissions. The building can operate without using artificial light for approximately 90% of office hours and has been designed to achieve a 59% reduction in energy consumption, and a 70% reduction in the use of potable water. These amount to significant savings in operational costs for the Provincial authorities.

Have you used any of these techniques elsewhere? Yes, we try and use green initiatives on all our projects. Passive energy saving design interventions, the use of solar energy, rainwater harvesting, the use of low VOC materials, energy efficient lighting and low water usage sanitary ware are relatively easy to achieve in part or in full on projects.

What building anywhere in the world do you admire most? Mike Pearce’s Eastgate Centre which opened in Harare in 1996, stands out for me as the pioneering green building achievement in Africa.

What are you currently reading? ‘Continental Shifts: A Journey into Africa’s Changing Fortunes ‘by Kevin Bloom and Richard Poplak, which looks at economic and infrastructure development in a number of African Countries.

What’s music makes you want to dance? Mango Groove.


Read about other AfriSam-SAIA Awards finalists Architect of Change 1 Robert de Jager here ,  Architect of Change 2 Thomas Chapman here. And Architect of Change 3 Dirk Coetser here.


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