Thebe Investments is one of South Africa’s oldest investment firms and represents a truly pioneering black-owned enterprise established at the dawn of South Africa’s democracy. Since its founding in 1992 it has grown from a capitalisation loan of R100,000 to having an investment portfolio of over R11bn.
Internal Developers (ID) approached the office’s interior design as an opportunity to express the character and values of Thebe Investments as an African investor – modern, visionary and rooted in its heritage.
Not only does the project reflect the core values of Thebe and the future of offices, but it is a symbol of the faith Thebe put in us as South Africa's leading design and build partners...– Tandi Jacobs
Thebe’s new head office is situated within the environs of the Inanda Club polo fields, located in building nine of the ten buildings with varying designs that make up the Growthpoint Properties owned Inanda Greens. The location is accessible for staff and visitors alike. It is connected to Sandton Central with all its main arterials and the nearby Sandton Gautrain Station and enjoys easy access to the M1 highway.
Set in a tranquil, green environment with breathtaking views of the surrounding area, the secure office park has full back-up power, its own nine-hole golf course and an on-site restaurant-coffee shop.
Heather Muller of ID’s design team explains that the internal office design draws its inspiration from African Modernism and from Thebe’s own deeply rooted history in South Africa.
Expressing this in a contemporary manner was achieved with earthy materials such as stone flooring, marble countertops, timber tables, screens and ceiling baffles; as well as earth-toned fabrics and geometric patterns in the furnishings. Stucco plaster has been used in places for the wall finishes, giving a rustic feel.
Thebe’s corporate colours are used as accents in furniture, wall finishes, cushions, rugs and other décor pieces. “We wanted to create a professional yet approachable and comfortable environment for Thebe’s staff to work in through the use of these different fittings and finishes,” notes Kimon Sarmis of ID’s design team. ID also introduced an element of fun by including green and black writable walls instead of traditional office whiteboards.
“The new ways of work require new and fresh working spaces that create an inviting environment for employees and stakeholders alike, that allow for both individual space and are also conducive to collaboration. The creative and innovative designs from ID have helped us to co-create and achieve an exceptional working space, with employee wellness at the centre, allowing for creativity, while showcasing our values and heritage at the same time, making it such a pleasure to be at the office with colleagues,” comments Grathel Motau, Thebe’s Group Financial director.
Spanning 530sqm of usable office space, the layout is contemporary and speaks to current workplace trends. The design makes for a friendly workplace that people want to work in and adds agility to Thebe’s offices with both formal and multifunctional areas.
The key spaces included the reception area, boardroom, open-plan office space, pause areas and kitchen. Each space is defined by means of design devices such as differing ceiling treatments – different heights, recessed or drop-down bulkheads, and drop-down ceiling grids – as well as floor and wall treatments. This enables the spaces to have their own identity without disrupting the flow of one space into the next.
The internal spaces extend onto a feature balcony, enabling the enjoyment of the outdoors and supporting the wellness that is proven to be gained from fresh air and outdoor views. This optimises the green features of the location. The balcony is a natural gravitation point for staff and a great place to entertain clients.
ID strives to implement sustainable measures on every project, and this was no exception. Some of these measures included the use of energy-saving light fittings, the inclusion of indoor plants, and the use of local suppliers and manufacturers. Sustainable choices are also fitting in a business park which already embodies green design principles.
The timing was critical to the project, with Thebe opting to relocate over the quieter December/January period. In this regard, the project was not without its challenges, and load shedding in particular affected delivery and manufacturing timelines for certain of the products and materials.
“We mitigated that by remaining completely transparent with the client and keeping them informed at every step of the process, and by managing our timeline carefully to ensure we could still meet the completion deadline,” Muller explains.
It is this transparent approach which ultimately resulted in ID winning the pitch for the Thebe head office project. Initially, based on costs, ID wasn’t the client’s first choice. Thebe, however, came to appreciate that although ID’s costs may have seemed higher, they were in fact more comprehensive.
“When a thorough costing is undertaken, the client avoids bearing the brunt of unexpected additional expenses. Thebe appreciated our open-book approach to costs and timeframes,” says Bathobile Chime, Client Solutions director at Cushman & Wakefield | BROLL.
Moving to ID provided Thebe with openness, transparency, constant communication, and responsive and accessible engagement.
“We believe in pushing the envelope and offering exceptional service and quality, durable products at affordable levels and doing this transparently by working hand-in-hand with our clients,” says Tandi Jacobs, Operations director at ID.
Thebe last had all its staff in the office before the pandemic. Now, its people love coming to the new offices. This is a powerful endorsement of the compelling quality of space created, given that Thebe’s previous offices already offered a great experience.
The ID team believes that its excellent working relationship with Thebe contributed vastly to the project’s success, saying that they felt trusted and supported from the outset through to completion.
“The client’s enthusiasm for the project and trust in our professionalism was unmatched in our experience, and we believe that this resulted in our ultimately delivering a project which surpassed even our own expectations,” enthuses Muller.
Jacobs adds: “Not only does the project reflect the core values of Thebe and the future of offices, but it is a symbol of the faith Thebe put in us as South Africa's leading design and build partners.”
The multi-disciplinary ID provides strategic workplace solutions, specialising in optimising the world of work through workplace strategy, optimisation and turnkey developments.