BBG’s new offices: a shining example of Image Construction
Inhouse Brand Architects has constructed a sleek, masculine image for the corporate offices of the Berman Brothers Group (BBG) – a leading property development firm in Cape Town. The design concept sees raw construction materials transformed into signature elements that pay homage to BBG’s very own building blocks.
When asked to design the new Sea Point offices for BBG, Inhouse Brand Architects took the bulk of its design references from the origins of BBG’s success in the building industry – its raw materials.
Basic construction elements such as reinforcing steel and exposed concrete have all been reimagined into iconic statements in a decidedly masculine space. The overall effect is sophisticated and startling for its design ingenuity. Extremely high-end finishes serve to contrast with and elevate raw construction elements, creating an impressive sense of cohesion.
The client’s brief was to develop a world-class interior that both reflected the BBG brand and accommodated the company’s various needs. The wishlist included well-appointed private offices for the owners, Paul and Saul Berman; a large, open-plan seating area for staff; informal meeting spaces; private meeting rooms; and business lounge arrangements.
For Inhouse creative director, Aidan Hart, the project was an exciting challenge not only because of the design input that could be provided, but also because the client was extremely discerning.
“Paul and Saul Berman are very dynamic individuals and successful entrepreneurial businessmen who came with high expectations of both quality and style, having built their business in the building and property development realm.”
For its new premises, BBG elected to occupy two floors in the same building linked by an internal stairwell. Inhouse’s space planning for the project demarcated the upper floor as the client-facing area, with the working floor or boiler room below. It was important to Hart that there be visual connectivity between the two areas, despite their differing functions.
This visual connection was achieved by cutting several circular ‘portholes’ through the concrete floor slab to expose the reinforcing steel supporting the floor and also the lower level beneath. Toughened glass completed the openings.
To further connect above and below, Inhouse deconstructed the stairwell between the two floors. The cantilevered, floating staircase boasts an exposed reinforcment substructure that carries glass treads connecting two concrete spiral sections.
The large curved wall behind the stairwell stretches between the levels – again, reinforcing the connection between them – and houses a photographic display of BBG projects. Rebars were cleverly used as handrails for the stairs.
Common rebar was welded into an arresting and unusual screen that greets guests as they come into the reception area. The reception desk itself is moulded from concrete, complemented by a raw marble-clad back wall featuring diagonal sections.
Several custom-made furniture elements are detailed around building equipment. Ryan Matchett designed an impressive boardroom light resembling an I-beam and Dark Horse supplied furnishing which complements the masculine interior and construction focus.
The high degree of customisation and bespoke design really distinguishes this project. According to Inhouse designer Jenine Bruce, “Everything was custom-designed, from the doors to the boardroom table. And that’s such a feature of the space.” Even the door handles – large, vertical plates of steel with slots in them – were custom-made.
This level of detail was also extended to the witty, unusual signage for the bathrooms. Lettering has been etched into the granite floor, revealing the words “Silk Stockings” that denote the women’s bathroom, and “Stitched Leather” to identify the men’s section.
The boardroom table – also custom designed – was technically challenging to produce. It consists of glass, stretched leather and plate steel that has all been cut up at diagonals to reflect the style of the reception area.
In addition to customisation, another standout feature of the space is the disciplined execution of a very slick, crisp, linear aesthetic. This lends the space zen-like minimalism that contributes to a peaceful, quietly confident mood.
Furthermore, almost every room has maximum daylight exposure and fantastic views, which allowed Inhouse to use very bold, dark materials throughout, giving the space a strong, solidly masculine appeal that builds trust – like BBG itself.
About Inhouse Brand Architects:
Inhouse is a leading and comprehensive South African agency specialising in turnkey solutions for all sectors of design, with expertise in interior design and brand architecture. With offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg and London, Inhouse concentrates on innovative and appropriate ideas in response to the diverse needs of its clients.
More information at http://inhouse.ws