Capitec Bank has unveiled its innovative new headquarters, iKhaya, meaning ‘home’ in Xhosa.
Designed by multidisciplinary studio, dhk Architects, the three-story curvilinear building is defined by its dynamic interior architecture which embodies the company’s progressive outlook and embraces the concept of agile working.
dhk’s holistic architectural approach considered both the exterior and interior to optimise corporate expenditure, internal flow, and sustainability – demonstrating that commercial offices can be innovative and cost-effective while driving operational efficiencies.
Capitec’s growth led to the company occupying numerous offices which were geographically dispersed. This resulted in departments becoming increasingly isolated from one another. Consequently, Capitec opted to consolidate its staff and facilities into one operationally efficient headquarters located in the scenic Cape Winelands – a key driver of the design concept involved capturing panoramic vistas and drawing the landscape within.
The building form optimises the shape and size of the site while referencing the brand’s distinctive curved logo. The three-storey superstructure wraps around itself, which creates a unique ‘doughnut’ shape and forms a central triple-volume atrium – an internal ‘social spine’ at the heart of the building. White aluminium panels contribute to the contemporary appearance, cladding the building’s sinuous form which is further accentuated with continuous ribbons of fenestration.
The building fosters a company culture of creativity, innovation, and collaboration with a large emphasis placed on optimising internal flow and departmental interaction. The first and second floors, containing the office’s open-plan work areas, are largely void of hierarchical structure and closed-off cubicles. Embracing the concept of agile working, a raised access floor throughout the building facilitates maintenance and future upgrades to services. On each level, a total of four ‘cores’ containing centralized amenities such as kitchenettes, meeting rooms, breakout areas, lockers, bathrooms and fire escapes serve to augment the floor plates into departmental zones.
Throughout the building’s ‘social spine’, there are a variety of breakaway areas; from a large ground floor lounge at reception for guests to pause areas on bridges and, an internal landscaped courtyard for staff to rest.
Capitec championed environmental sustainability and employee well-being throughout the building. Natural light is optimised through clerestory glazing, roof lights and internal courtyard windows while artificial lighting is zoned and activated by sensors. Environmental performance modelling directly influenced the articulation of the façade. The process informed areas of fenestration, glazing specification, glare control measures as well as the primary ordering of internal layouts.
A circulation zone was provided along the external perimeter of the building to distance resident desks from sources of radiant heat. The thermal mass of the concrete building superstructure is exposed in various areas and the basement is naturally ventilated. Other sustainability measures include ice storage to offset peak electrical demands, a greywater system, water-saving fittings, a building management system for extensive metering and monitoring, double glazing throughout, the use of good quality and low maintenance materials, locally sourced materials, water-efficient heat rejection, zero Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) refrigerants, the use of low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) finishes, borehole and rainwater harvesting for irrigation, water wise planting and refuse management to encourage the separation of waste and recyclables.
To promote employee well being, the building has been purposefully limited to two passenger lifts for its workforce of approximately 2000 with a variety of generous feature stairs in place to encourage walking, limiting the use of confined lift spaces.
Capitec rehabilitated the neighbouring area of public open space to be used by employees and the broader community as a recreational area for activities including cycling, walking, and running.
Looking to the future, the development incorporates a car parking structure on an adjacent site that follows iKhaya’s core principles, designed for future adaption into an office should there be a model shift towards public transportation and less reliance on private cars.
“Capitec is a renowned South African brand that highlights values of simplicity, innovativeness and collaboration. dhk sought to create an extraordinary, world-class office that is progressive and relevant in the South African context – designed to be agile, drive productivity, increase operational efficiencies and ultimately, reduce company operational expenditure” concludes Peter Stokes, a partner at dhk and lead architect on the iKhaya project.