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  • Daffonchio & Associates Architects​

78 Corlett Drive

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

By- Daffonchio & Associates Architects​

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The design of 78 Corlett Drive, Illovo Johannesburg incorporates strong minimalist geometries, with the shading louvers acting as a dynamic façade element. The use of dark tones creates a strong street presence, elevating the building above the parking space below. The floating effect of the building is further enhanced by the articulation of its relationship to the ground plane; only gently interfacing with the ground through a small glass box that houses the main circulation core and a concierge service. We are very proud to have achieved a 6 Star Rating and a Net Zero Carbon accreditation on our design for 78 Corlett. This is the first office development in Africa to be awarded a v1.1, 6 Star Rating. Through efficient design, we achieved this rating with ZERO premium on the building cost, compared to the market average of a 12% premium for green star certification.

The development aims to set a new standard for vibrant and trendy co-working office spaces by providing a cutting edge 6-star rated Green Building. With innovative additions such as electric car charging stations, full cyclist facilities, passive solar shading design, and a full photovoltaic array, the design not only redefines the way people live and work but also prioritizes sustainability & respect for the natural environment, whilst ensuring low running costs for the developer. The design incorporates strong minimalist geometries, with the shading louvers acting as a dynamic façade element. The use of dark tones creates a strong street presence, elevating the building above the parking space below. The floating effect of the building is further enhanced by the articulation of its relationship to the ground plane; only gently interfacing with the ground through a small glass box that will house the main circulation core and a concierge service. The upper ground floor of the building will house a mixture of vibrant open co-working spaces and cellular offices, interspersed with social and formal meeting spaces, all revolving around a central coffee bar located in the triple volume daylit atrium. The first floor has additional co-working spaces and larger formal offices to cater for a diverse variety of tenants.


Questions and Answers What was the brief? The brief for the interior design of Legaro’s office at 78 Corlett Drive was to develop a bold and sophisticated aesthetic that speaks to the company’s image in the market as an innovative and environmentally conscious industry leader in South Africa. As such the interior design, spearheaded by Michele Brookes from Legaro as well as local Imbewu Design, sought to embody the company’s philosophy that quality and sustainability go hand in hand. For this reason, all products specified for the project were to be locally sourced in South Africa.

The brief for the interior design was to seek out high-quality solutions that offer a modern yet homely interior space that promotes unity within the company and fosters bonds between employees in a high functioning environment. In order to promote occupant wellbeing within the space, the interior encourages individuality while still unifying the company brand. Collaborative work is promoted by an open-plan office while private meeting spaces are conceived as breakaway pods as well as executive office spaces. To keep in line with promoting a healthy and productive work environment, greenery is incorporated into the design at the shared workspaces which break introduces a more organic aesthetic.

The atmosphere of the office was to be designed in such a way that allows the employees to feel at home while maintaining a sophisticated and elegant feeling in order to promote productivity. They wanted the space to feel homey and comfortable as well as sophisticated and elegant. The bold and elegant interior is offset by incorporating artworks to soften the space and introduce a layer of personability. Artworks were sourced from local South African artworks as well as images taken by the client which showcased their journey as a sector leader in the built environment.


What are the sustainability features? 1. Street-level parking to minimise excavation on the sloped site. This also allows for naturally ventilated semi-basement parking. 2. Compact Service Core. 3. Building envelope maximises light with minimal glazing cost - zero waste glazing. 4. PV panels on roof lowers operational cost of building. By lifting the PV structure 3m off the roof level, an additional event space is created.

In order to achieve the highest green star rating possible, the design was developed to maximise environmentally friendly and sustainable building principles that are embodied in the construction and continues into the life of the building post-construction. The following environmentally friendly and sustainable construction materials and techniques were used:

In order to minimise the building’s reliance on outdated and inefficient mechanical and electrical systems, the design of the building incorporates the use of renewable energy into its green building strategy. This is embodied in the architecture in the following ways:

During construction, between 70 – 90% of all temporary building supplies such as concrete shutter boards were sourced from previous construction sites. All temporary building supplies used during the construction of the building had to be recycled for future projects to ensure that the landfill impact of building waste was significantly reduced.

The spatial planning & footprint of the building was carefully considered to ensure that the building’s services core, main circulation & shared ablutions are all consolidated into one compact building core. As such, 85% of the rentable floor area has access to natural light, ventilation & external views. The building achieves savings through the use of water-efficient fittings that limit the occupant water usage to 0.5L/day/m².


The building does not make use of a fire sprinkler system. This helps to reduce potable water wastage. And the development is designed to minimize stormwater run-off to, and minimize the pollution of the natural watercourses. Evaporative cooling towers and systems were removed from the design to eliminate the risk of exposing occupants to Legionella disease. All landscaping has been specified to be drought resistant, meaning that the watering of plants is minimised.

All glazing on the building is a special high-performance glass. The external shading device systems on the facades eliminated the need for double glazing, thus saving the developer the additional cost. All internal finishes (carpets, sealants, paint, adhesives ect.) adhere to strict guidelines and fall below the allowable VOC (Volatile Organic Compound). This target was met to ensure a healthy internal environment for tenants.

An energy model for the building was generated by a green building consultant so that the building would show an improvement of 100% compared to that of a typical building designed to code (SANS 10400). The window and shading systems for the east and west facades were designed to utilise the same frame and track system, allowing for simplicity of manufacturing which cut down the additional labour cost of customized elements. The shutters provide 100% protection from direct sunlight when closed and also provides tenants flexibility to open and configure the façade as they please in order to control the glare, views, and temperature.

A project-specific Waste Management Plan was developed and implemented to minimise the contribution of waste going to landfill. And reduce the environmental impact of the project. All selected gaseous and fire suppression systems and thermal insulants used for the development have an Ozone Depleting Potential (ODP) of zero which eliminates any contributions to long-term damage to the earth’s stratospheric ozone layer. The building’s peak electrical demand is actively reduced by the use of Photovoltaic system. A steel structure on the roof contains a total of around 175 high-performance monocrystalline photovoltaic panels linked to a series of converters that connect to the main distribution board of the building. The panels were designed to provide enough energy to power the entire building on an average day.

Through the provision of electric car charging facilities on the ground floor level, occupants are encouraged to avoid using modes of transport that rely on non-renewable energy sources. Provision of preferentially located parking bays for visitors and tenants that utilise alternative fuel / hybrid cars also incentivises the use of sustainable and environmentally friendly modes of transport. Provision is also made for cyclists including undercover bicycle storage rack and full bathroom with showers and lockers. The safety and security of the occupants have been taken into consideration and incorporated into the design to maintain the wellbeing of all occupants. CCTV cameras are included and are positioned strategically to provide 24/7 surveillance of the property.


A 24/7 guard is stationed on the property in a full-time capacity. A specifically designed caretaker unit was incorporated into the design which means that there is provision for a caretaker to be on the property 24/7. Pragmatically there is also an electric fence that controls access from outside, while biometric access controls the movement of occupants within the building. Various strategies were implemented to develop an integrated system of balanced fire protection, which uses many different features and systems to reinforce one another and to cover for one another in case of the failure of any system. The process of achieving this integration was achieved through the balancing of robust active and passive fire protection strategies and systems.

Passive Fire Protection: In terms of the passive fire protection strategy, the building is located in relation to other buildings in such a way that it does not present any exposing fire risk to other buildings. The materials of the exterior walls are such that they provide 30-minute fire resistance and stability. The development was designed to restrict fire spread vertically and horizontally by means of firewalls and fire stopping of openings through walls and floors. The passive system also involves an egress design that operates on the assumption that no occupant will remain static during emergency conditions. The total travel distances do not exceed that of 45m as per the limitation imposed by the SANS 10400-2011.

Active Fire Protection: The active fire protection system involves smoke control in which individual tenant spaces do not exceed 500m² as per the regulations and a range of fire fighting equipment such as a communication pipe, fire pump connection, non-return valve, fire hydrant, service pipes, hose reels, fire extinguishers, signage, directional signs, and fire equipment signs.


Sustainable products used: Flooring: Oggie hardwood flooring was selected to accentuate a sleek circulation axis which extends the length of the office space. Oggie is also the only timber flooring in South Africa to attain the internationally recognised Forest Stewardship Council’s 100% certification. Belgotex carpets were selected to soften certain spaces in the office interior. The Bergotex has received South Africa’s Custom Industrial 6 Green Star rating. The award recognises sustainable practices in all aspects of plant and carpet manufacturing operations.

Important Elements: The workspace ‘pods’ designed by Emerging Creatives were chosen in order to encourage more intimate moments for meetings between colleagues. These offset the open plan, collaborative office space. The desks allocated to the open-plan office are designed with suggestive partitions for more individual workspaces. The Legaro front desk, also designed by Emerging Creatives, is a bold and sleek feature which meets guests on arrival.

Project Location? The site is located at 78 Corlett Drive, Johannesburg, South Africa. Positioned in hub of the city’s northern suburbs, Melrose is a quick commute to the major economic and commercial nodes of Rosebank and Sandton. 78 Corlett Drive is located 250 meters from Melrose Arch, a mixed-use commercial hub in Johannesburg, which is also conveniently within reach of the Gautrain, an expansive commuter rail system in Gauteng. The prime location of the office makes it an attractive position for prospective tenants as well as the headquarters of the client and developer’s office.

Project Team? Client: Legaro Properties Location: Melrose North, Johannesburg Architects: Daffonchio & Associates Architects Interior: Daffonchio & Associates Architects Imbewu Design Main Contractors: Legaro Properties GBSA Consultants: Solid Green Consulting Quantity Surveyors: Legaro Properties Town Planners: Raven Town Planners Landscaping: Unique Landscaping CC Engineers: Structural - Kantey & Templer Consulting Engineers HVAC & Cooling – Graeme Page Consulting Engineers (Façade) Glass & Aluminium – Sheer Glass (Façade) Fixed Louvre – Hunter Douglas (Façade) North Feature Lighting – Hunter Douglas & Regent Lighting (Interior) Feature Lighting – Stephen Pikus (Interior) White Oak Herringbone Flooring – Oggie Flooring