trustco head office, windhoek

Status: Completed

Extent:

Client: Trustco Group International

Main Contractor:  Stocks & Stocks Namibia (Ph1) Grinaket LTA (Ph2)

Completion: (Ph1) 1999 (Ph2) 2003

A landmark development on the northern periphery CBD of Windhoek’s CBD, the Trustco Head Office Complex epitomises the dynamic essence of the Trustco Group of Companies: innovative management and state-of-the-art technology. This building has become entrenched as the Trustco trade mark within the region not only because its IT installation was acknowledged as being one of the most sophisticated in Africa at the time, but also because it featured regularly in the South African soapie, Egoli.

Located in an old residential precinct increasingly characterised by multi-storey office and public sector buildings, the Trustco complex occupies a full city block along the busy Robert Mugabe Avenue between Uhland and Keller Streets.

The complex was constructed in two distinct phases, the first of which a five-storey office building situated on the southern portion of the site. With the emphasis on flexibility, office space is arranged in a narrow, open-plan configuration maximising orientation and view – cellular offices are strung along the northern façade. The small footprint of the building demanded that circulation space be kept to an absolute minimum.

Open public parking is provided in front of the building, whilst staff parking takes the form of different basements and semi-basements.

Visitors approach the building across a landscaped terrace forming part of the ground floor coffee shop and bistro. The office section is entered through a multi-volume foyer, bridged on each floor by means of a lightweight steel-and-glass walkway linking office, services and boardroom. Initial subletting of individual floors was envisaged, although it was foreseen that Trustco eventually would occupy the entire building. Management is accommodated on the top floor in a double-volume open plan configuration and lightweight mezzanine.

Fenestration takes the form of punched windows recessed into the face-brick of the north façade, while a generous glass curtain wall dominates the south façade and ensures unimpeded views of the CBD.

The second phase of the complex is located on the northern portion of the site. It is a three-storey office building with a parking basement and is entered from Uhland Street. A multi-volume atrium separates the office section from two parking floors serving the first phase.

The challenge of the architecture was to respond to the existing setting while adhering to the client’s singular wish for an imposing edifice in complete contrast to its surroundings. The building had to capture the dynamic essence of the company, reflecting its technological bias and innovative approach to management: state of the art yet vibrant and unconventional. The overall design and volumetric juxtaposition, attention to detail and choice of material – off-shutter concrete, face brick, aluminium, steel, timber, glass and stone – all reflect these aspirations without losing sight of the specific context. The requirement of low maintenance also played an important role in the selection of materials and finishes.

Perhaps the most demanding aspect of this project was catering to the imposition of ever-changing accommodation requirements throughout the process of construction.

The first phase, for example, started as a three-storey structure to which two additional floors and the café were added some time after the commencement of building work, necessitating swift and innovative aesthetic and structural interventions by architect and engineer.

The second phase entailed transforming a building planned as a cardiac hospital into an office building with construction already at an advanced stage. Apart from resolving the obvious problems of layout, circulation and aspects of local authority requirements such as parking, the two buildings had to be integrated into a visual entity by, amongst other things, skillful manipulation of the very long western façade and the softening of the street edge by an avenue of monkey thorn trees.