Green Architecture: Sandton’s Discovery Place

WORDS Amelia Brown IMAGES Adam Letch


Explore Discovery‘s impressive new global HQ in Joburg, architected by Boogertman + Partners Architects.

Alisdair Forsyth, Associate Director at Boogertman + Partners Architects, shared the background to the client brief: “There were two key factors within Discovery’s brief. The first was to create an architectural statement that captured the essence of the Discovery brand – a building that embodied the company’s core values and one that could be identified with going forward.

The second factor was to improve efficiencies in the day-to-day working of the company, which was spread over four disjointed buildings around the original 155 West Street property. Discovery needed a new building designed with its way of working in mind and one that would give it flexibility for future growth and changes in operation.”

The site, on the corner of Katherine and Rivonia Streets, sits at the highest point in Sandton, which immediately gives the building visual dominance and allowed for a large, low building rather than a sky rise. The building – the largest new building to receive a five-star rating from the Green Building Council SA – was conceived from the inside out, explains Alisdair. “At the core of its design concept is the creation of a rich internal environment within and around which the Discovery community can thrive. At all times our design considerations are centred around the human experience of the space.”

Two large, sun-filled inner atria are enclosed by a 2800 m2 of glazed roof with all pause areas and flexible spaces opening into them. A central concourse, conceived as a grand central station, connects them. The roof, which has been landscaped with indigenous plants and is accessible to employees, aims to express Discovery’s philosophy of a holistic approach to health.

The ground floor, which opens into the atrium spaces connecting visitors to the working floors above visually and spatially, features two restaurants, a coffee shop, retail outlets, the first Discovery Bank branch, a wellness centre where clients can have their Vitality assessments done, a Woolworths and auditoriums for events and announcements. It is open to the public who are encouraged to come to the building for lunch or coffee.

The first floor is for training and meeting rooms. The second to seventh floors are the working office spaces, which aren’t accessible to the public unless by appointment. This is the core of the company. Each floor plate has two large pause/breakaway areas that open onto the atrium. The gym is located on Level 8, as well as access to the landscaped roof, which extends to Level 9. The roof has a 620 m running track, a multicourt for basketball, netball or volleyball and a separate football court. There are also spaces for yoga classes and external seating areas. Level 9 will also house the Healthy Food Studio, where Discovery will host “masterchef” cooking classes to promote holistic, healthy eating.

Watch the video, scripted and directed by architect Mark Thomas, edited by Graham Cooke and scored by Myles McDonald of Hey Pappa Legend, to get a full tour.