The office building, as we know it today, especially in its high-rise manifestations, is, as is well known, an American innovation, created out of necessity in the extraordinary circumstances of the explosion of the US economy after the Civil War.
The financial capitals of the world and Africa in particular, are poised to receive a fresh crop of very tall office buildings, even though there are debates as to the necessities of city-centre offices, given the emergence of mobile time-flexible working practices made possible by new technology.
Whatever the outcome of these debates, there is no doubt that office buildings, large and small, will continue to proliferate in the middle ground, and will continue both to symbolize and to support our contemporary working life.
Architects are not only coming up with creative designs, but they are also using new techniques to ensure safety, durability and comfort. One of the latest and commonly used new techniques in new office buildings is the glass facade. There are more to the glimmering glass facades than just the contemporary look. The glass absorbs and radiates excessive heat so that the temperature inside the building is comfortable. It is an energy efficient way of construction.
Many offices are trying to adapt this technology to provide a better working atmosphere for employees. Experts expect more and more buildings using this technology in the near future. Glass facades not only make the office look classy and improve working conditions, but they also help in cost cutting.
Companies that use glass facades are able to maintain temperature inside the office, which helps them save money on heaters or air conditioners.
In addition to glass facades, Advanced Framing is also quickly growing. It is the right step towards a green tomorrow. This technique involves using minimal wood. It is a step towards saving the environment. Additionally, better erosion control techniques are also used now. Additionally, integration into the HVAC system, night cooling, optimization during the day, natural ventilation, and exterior shading on the facade are some other commonly used techniques in the modern office buildings.
Proper use of office space is another main priority. There are vast spaces so that meetings can be easily held. There is a lot of emphasis on having large enough spaces and using energy in an efficient way. The modern office buildings are not only attractive, but they offer much more in every department.
With each passing day, new standards are created in construction and architecture. Every constructor/architect tries to create a state-of-the-art building. There is emphasis on having special entry and exit routes, orientation of building using passive solar design techniques and pathways for the disabled are now also considered a must by many.
One of the biggest problems that office buildings face is the lack of enough parking spaces. Most new office buildings have dedicated parking space to meet the desired need. Special parking spaces are created (even underground) so that all the vehicles can be accommodated.
There is now a large and ever-increasing roll-call of notable modern office buildings of stunning appearance across Africa. Among these one could mention Fairlands Office in Johannesburg by MDS Architects, Diamond Bank HQ in Lagos, Nigeria by James Cubitt Architects and the Portside Tower in Cape Town by Louis Karol Architects expected to finish in two years.
Architecture is not only concerned with the designing of a building, it is concerned with the construction, function and performance of those buildings as well as their visual presence. Those involved in building design cannot escape their responsibility for its performance; it will be an unavoidable consequence of their decisions, whether consciously anticipated or not. It is thus recommended that a building is always constructed keeping in mind, the users’ requirements and the ever changing times. MBD