Nestled amongst the leafy northern suburbs of Johannesburg; the new 6th Street Parkhurst showroom of the Oggie hardwood flooring company, seems to unfold and open outward (in some ways literally!) as something of a retail retreat. With the option of rentable office above the showroom, the design integrates flexible plans open to integrating a variety of access to, and uses of space. The building is shaped successfully by focusing on featuring Oggie's indoor and outdoor flooring range within an open and customizable commercial space, well suited to client interaction and sales.
With the small available site footprint (495m²), the building grew upwards, as well as creating basement parking for staff below; allowing easy and open street access and parking to the public. The design needed to maximise floor space without feeling cramped, keeping a sensibility of public openness and retail or corporate connection and efficient office space – all while remaining sensitive to the privacy of its residential neighbours.
Feeling contemporary, locally inspired and exploring exciting architectural tectonics- the building's primary function was to showcase the Oggie flooring products and host meetings and flooring sales consultations. C76 chose to use a restricted but carefully disciplined palette of materials to create something of a blank box, or canvas in which there’s plenty (varying) spaces left for the products to shine. Brick, steel and wood both reflect the Parkhurst built and natural landscapes, while also reflecting and celebrating Oggie's natural product line and ethos. Smaller spaces are both defined or framed individually through scale and the Oggie range textures, while simultaneously opening up into a larger free flowing connectivity through the building and beyond.
Light enters the building through timber screens and the clever use of a patterned brick facade. By turning the bricks at an angle; a lenticular effect allows a large area of natural light into the building, while also acting as a privacy screen when viewed obliquely. This dappling of sunlight and shade is complimented and added to by allowing skylights to bring in corner and above views of the surrounding treetops - all the way to the Hillbrow Telkom tower in the Johannesburg distance. A double volume showroom with a floating loft and two East-facing courtyards, blurring the lines between built and landscape, an indigenous garden and trees connecting natural textures within the building - the green boxes acting to interplay thresholds of open and closed while also incorporating passive cooling and ventilation functions. Soon the trees planted within these courtyards will grow to stretch above the building (and the romantic smoker's Titanic-like balcony), while creeping vines will grow along the brick facade and mingles into the timber screening. The building permeates seamlessly onto the street, pairing aesthetic finesse, identity and expression with tectonic resolution of space making and function.
The Oggie building responds to context and the public realm, while creating a wonderfully light and open, architectural interesting space that is adjustable, meeting the requirement to easily share the limelight by showcasing Oggie’s product displays. Timber screens soften the brick facade, featuring Oggie’s outdoor product range while keeping corporate signage subtle and unobtrusive - the main Oggie branding, a large stylised 'O' repeats a similarly lenticular effect as used by the bricks, appearing to disappear when viewed at different angle – bold yet subtle (literally depending on how you look at at) avoiding the kitsch self aggrandizing aesthetic trap of commercial branding . The street facing facade however, is all about showing off and drawing the public in - two large steel clad boxes open up southwards - one as a large shop window while the other as the buildings entrance. Each morning, the building is opened to the public somewhat ceremonially - a 7m hydraulic timber security door pivoting (controlled via mobile app) as a new day's welcome.
Bold, yet remarkably sincere and subtle merging commercial and retail space snugly through a holistic design approach and response. C76's considered approach to the design process has married the two loves of architecture - form and function into a sincere and beautiful contemporary addition to the Johannesburg built landscape.
Project team: Principal architect: Carl Jacobsz - Collaborators: Warren Wilson & Dan de Kretser