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WSP settles into new Africa HQ in Bryanston

WSP in Africa has recently moved into its new headquarters (HQ) for their operations and work into Africa. This building in Bryanston houses all of the company’s Johannesburg-based people.


WSP’s new HQ building is the first of seven buildings planned to be completed, as part of Emira’s project to redevelop the entire Knightsbridge office park. Construction of the building began in January 2016 and the company took occupancy on the 4th of September 2017 – the building measures in at 5 800m2, over three floor plates and a beautiful rooftop garden that speaks to the overall biophilic design of the building.
Mathieu du Plooy, Managing Director, WSP in Africa, says: “This is a development that we are very proud of. We were able to play an active ‘hands-on’ role in designing a place where our people - our immediate community – can be inspired, innovate, collaborate, create and thrive.”

Knightsbridge architect rendering

Integrated design driven and proven collaboration

As the anchor tenant for the first phase of the redevelopment project, WSP played a pivotal role in the design of not only the company’s own new building, but the layout and planning of the precinct. For the construction of their new HQ building, the company provided a full host of design consulting services – across civil, structural, mechanical, electrical and electronic, plumbing, fire and sustainability – and worked closely with the architect, project manager, quantity surveyor and full construction team, which resulted in a better coordinated outcome.
William Johnston, Regional Director, WSP, in Africa, says; “We were able to leverage on our multidisciplinary design and consulting services for this project; but we also leveraged on this build as an opportunity to demonstrate the scope and scalability of our integrated design capabilities – and not just in the design phase, but during construction as well.” 

Mathieu quote
In the early design phase, WSP used its 3-dimentional (3D) assets to design an immersive, gamified, virtual reality (VR) rendering of the planned redevelopment for the precinct and a detailed rendering for the company’s building.
“Once the detailed rendering of our new HQ was completed, we were able to host 3D coordination sessions from our then offices in Bryanston. This not only enabled the collective project team to ensure that the design process was done thoroughly, but also to identify any potential problems or snags early on in the design phases - and take steps to correct these in the 3D environment. This provided a holistic and integrated design compliment that truly allowed the full project team to be proactive and collaborate on solutions – and lead to far more coordinated and streamlined construction phases as well,” adds Johnston.

William quote
VR technology is an incredible tool that adds immense value to any building project team and on any project. Being able to address design elements in a 3D environment – and before ground is even broken onsite – bodes significant benefits to reduce potential time and cost risks associated with building things incorrectly. It can in fact reduce time spent on dispute resolution and re-design turnaround, and drive greater unity among project teams and efficiency in developing the project overall.
“Our experience has shown that most people have to try VR out for themselves. But we have yet to see a person who has tried it and emerged sceptical to its very real potential. We certainly believe that VR will grow as an increasingly important tool and value add for professionals in the built space – and as such we continue to invest in growing our own capabilities within our Gauteng and Cape Town regional offices through project-based work. We have also built a 3D ready hub at our new HQ office, where we are able to offer our clients and partners a space where we can leverage on 3D and other latest technologies to drive integration and collaboration towards the best possible design and turnaround on projects,” says Johnston.  

Taking charge for sustainable spaces

According to Emira, the re-development is being rolled out in three phases and phase 2 will be completed by mid-2018. Once all three phases are complete, this will create 29 352m2 of P-grade, certified green, office space. Linked to this development has been the upgrading of the intersection of Sloane Street and William Nicol Drive in Bryanston, to minimise the impact of expected additional traffic feeds in the area – now and into the future.
The new WSP building at Knightsbridge boasts a 4-Star Green Star SA Design rating certification from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) – and in time the consulting company will seek its ‘Existing Building’’ rating, too, based on the actual performance of the building.
The design of the building is on the cutting edge of modern working environments. Following biophilic design principles, the building offers staff an amazing space to be inspired and work in.
Johnston says the company’s underlying intent on this project was to prove that it is possible to have a well-designed, efficient building that is more cost effective to build and maintain than a non-rated building. “And, we’ve achieved this.”
WSP continues to play a leading role in sustainable buildings in South Africa and across Africa.
“Our Sustainability consulting team has been involved with a number of benchmark projects – and as our corporate ethos centres around being future-ready, for us to continue advising clients on what this means we need to live what we do, every day,” concludes du Plooy.