New Alexander Forbes headquarters - Johannesburg, South Africa

Functionality, environmental quality and high energy-efficiency

The Alexander Forbes office complex stands out for the vitality and dynamism of its interiors, set against the silently sober presence of the ceramic floor coverings used on every level
Livio Salvadori
Anthony Orelowitz, Vivien Yun, Amir Livneh - Paragon Architects
Year of completion

Alexander Forbes, a financial services firm in Johannesburg, South Africa, decided to build its new headquarters at 115 West Street as part of a plan to upgrade its organisational structure and optimise the use of work space. In operational terms, this meant modernising its procedures and updating its service offering with state-of-the-art technical solutions, while at the same time offering a high degree of flexibility and the utmost security.
The design of the new building, by Anthony Orelowitz, Vivien Yun and Amir Livneh of Paragon Architects, takes its cue from the problematic north-west orientation of the site (bearing in mind its southern hemisphere location) and the need to comply with South Africa’s latest energy legislation.
The office complex is divided into two parallel buildings interconnected by a large, floor-to-ceiling lobby, and its south-facing and north-facing elevations feature continuous façades with windows in high-performance glass, protected by a system of sun-shading fins. The east-facing and west-facing elevations, meanwhile, are clad with vertically seamed zinc sheet, which turns an attractive blue-grey colour over time as it oxidises.
Inside, the two blocks overlook the central core, which provides access to the various levels.
Natural light comes into the building through 12 large, conical skylights, measuring 8.4 metres in diameter, with irregular pentagonal bases, which appear to float like clouds in the middle of the top ceiling and protrude through the roof.
Here in the heart of the building, with its links to all the main arteries, the layout of the ceramic flooring serves to bring a coherent order to the environment, and the single-colour, textured, matt surface of the porcelain tile acts as a counterbalance to the high-gloss transparency of the glass walls.
The floors of all the public areas, lobbies, entrance halls, canteen, bar, high-level walkways connecting the offices, spiral staircase and relaxation areas on every level were tiled with large-format porcelain panels from the Pietre Rare collection, belonging to the Granitogres line by Casalgrande Padana. Featuring a non-slip finish, they cover the entire area of the floors in question and are punctuated with single-colour accents in absolute white with a polished finish, which play off against the lights and dynamic design of the suspended ceilings.
Deriving from constantly evolving aesthetic research, this line of entirely unglazed, porcelain tiles embodies outstanding quality and high levels of technical performance, making it the ideal product for use in high-traffic areas exposed to significant physical and chemical stress.

Casalgrande Padana, Granitogres
porcelain stoneware
60x120, 10x120 cm
Pietre Rare Monviso, Unicolore Bianco Assoluto
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,1%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): compliant
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): 50-60 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R12 A+B+C, R9
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant
Certifications and awards
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