30 Jellicoe Avenue Building - Johannesburg (South Africa)

Beyond the image

A new commercial complex recently completed in South Africa's economic capital highlights the role of ceramic envelopes in architecture and in technological and energy performance
Alfredo Zappa
Andrew Bell
Paragon Architects
Year of completion

The Zulus called it «eGoli», or «place of gold». For some time, however, the area’s legendary mines have been eclipsed by the economic wealth of the nearby city of Johannesburg, today the economic capital of South Africa. Located north of the city centre, the Rosebank neighbourhood features a number of large buildings that emerge from a sprawl of mainly low-rise single-family buildings immersed in the greenery. One of the most notable recent constructions is the complex located at 30 Jellicoe Avenue, a symbolic bridge between the area’s residential building tradition and the standardised global language of international commercial architecture.
With a total floor space of 10,000 square metres and home to highly prestigious retail spaces, the building was designed by Paragon Architects. A professional partnership founded in 1997, it rapidly established itself as one of the leading architecture firms in Johannesburg and originated the Paragon Group of design business.
The choices underpinning the design of the Jellicoe Building are consistent with the group’s philosophy. «Our strategy is flexible and is not restricted to a predefined dogmatic approach,» they explained. «We don’t believe in absolute projects. Our architecture is not defined by stylistic preferences, but by in-depth discussions with the client, market demand, social trends, the specific characteristics of the place and the boundary conditions.»
In this respect the complex combines the needs of representation implicit in the building’s remit with special attention to aspects of a technological and construction nature. The envelope features large glazed surfaces, which on the main elevation give way to a large façade entirely clad with porcelain tiles. Given the complex environmental conditions determined by the elevation of the plateau on which Johannesburg stands (1750 metres) and the subtropical climate with temperatures that vary between a summer average of 25°C and a winter minimum of 4°C, mitigation of sunlight and thermal loads on the façade is key to ensuring comfort and energy efficiency. The cladding system produced by Laminam is a particularly important component of the project, consisting of ultrathin porcelain panels (1000x3000x3mm) from the Collection series in a white colour and glossy finish, installed in a horizontal orientation. Thanks to their high degree of modular coordination, it was possible to align the height of the ribbon windows with that of the ceramic panels, creating an overall installation that stands out for its clean style and execution.

Laminam, Collection series
porcelain stoneware
Bianco lucidato
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): 0,1
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): <175 mm3
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): 50
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant
Certifications and awards
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