Unity is the first phase of The Precinct which is the corporate headquarters of GRIT Real Estate Income Group, an award-winning, women-lead pan-African real estate company listed in Mauritius and London. GRIT delivers impact driven real estate developments across the African continent and its philosophy goes beyond buildings and the built environment, to initiate collective social investment programmes. These leverage the efforts of the family of partnerships surrounding GRIT to both empower and celebrate the people of Africa
The primary client’s directive and brief was very clear at inception – a multi tenanted office building with a design that had to anticipate a flexible planning solution which could handle variant space requirements from future tenants. The commercial nature of this aspect, combined with these variables, was thus a key driver in setting up floor plates of various sizes either side of the atrium space.
The brief for Unity / GRIT Head Office (GHO) was to create a home for the company to overtly reflect its roots in the African Continent and the African experience. The story of the experiences gained nearly a decade ago, had to be translated into core design descriptives – resilient, tough, agile and robust.
At the core of the concept was the desire to capture a special African spirit, a quality which delivered an immediacy reflecting the company’s special quality and one which was inviting, provocative and memorable.
Conceptually, three notions physically seeded the key parts of the design solution:
Heart: this is a space – the seat of energy – the atrium
Hive: this is a place and an object – the embedded piece of grit
Skin: this is the visible fabric of the building – the materials, surfaces, textures and colour
The planning of The Precinct site derives from a simple principle that three individual buildings are arranged to create a central landscaped courtyard. This assembly allows development phasing and incorporates two office buildings, Unity being the first and a mixed use element between, a business hotel with retail as the portal to the courtyard
The Unity design solution is generated around stacked office floors, five levels in the west block and four in an eastern block, these being intercepted and connected by a proportionally tall atrium. The office floors are simple in plan form, raw in nature and naturally lit with extensive filtered glazing the north and south and limited glazing on the east and west. The atrium, serving as the dramatic, warm and voluminous heart of the construct, displays a sculptural stair linking all levels via bridges and is animated by meeting pods protruding and engaging with this dynamic space. This atrium is at once the spatial signature, entrance and effortless connector between levels vertically and the future courtyard and buildings forming The Precinct. The fifth level of the building exhibits a large cantilevered roof and verandas to promote panoramic distant views to the ocean and interceding verdant landscape. Located here and capitalising on the prospect are the entertainment spaces, cigar lounge, bar and large gathering spaces. Spatially, Unity is simple and directly legible for all who work and visit
Unity is the first Greenstar rated office building in the Indian Ocean Islands and achieved both a design and build rating of 5 stars. An intensive engagement deriving a meaningful strategy to integrate practical and locally achievable sustainability measures, was facilitated from inception. These strategies included the following aspects:
FACADES AND LIGHT