The healthy lifestyle benefits of an energised mixed-use urban environment

Ahead of the curve

Cnr Amarand & Bankor avenues, Waterkloof Glen x2, Pretoria
Green Star rating:
4-Star Green Star Office Design V1.1 (2021); 4-Star Green Star Office As Built V1.1 (2023)
Type of building:
Commercial offices over seven floors
Project complete:
Dec 2022/Jan 2023
Project size:
Total gross floor area 19 900m²; parking area 17 518m²

Innovation was a sought-after sustainability goal and tool at Park Lane West in Pretoria’s Menlyn Maine, and continues to be so post-rating.

The vision for Pretoria’s Menlyn Maine precinct is of a world-class Green City. In essence, this precinct in the eastern suburbs of the capital city comprises a group of mixed-use properties designed to enable all occupants and visitors to have easy access to everything from residential apartments, hotels and retail shopping to healthcare, restaurants and entertainment.

As the latest addition to this urban precinct, Park Lane West is an arresting seven-storey, 19 900m2 contemporary office building. Designed by architects Boogertman + Partners, it features maximum flexibility to enable multi-tenancy occupation, both large and small, and is co-owned by Menlyn Maine Investment Holdings and Barrow Properties (Pty) Ltd. The building’s distinctive curved facade above the main entrance provides a welcoming pedestrian experience and key access route to the precinct’s amenities. It is positioned on the precinct’s “green belt”; the absence of a fence or barrier evokes the near-sense of a public space. Certified with a 4-Star Green Star Office Design V1.1 rating in 2021, Park Lane West received a 4-Star Green Star Office As Built V1.1 rating from the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) in January 2023.

An award-winning, innovative steel and glass skylight floods the impressive atrium with natural light.

Within the Menlyn Maine precinct, Park Lane West fits seamlessly between the other buildings, embracing its surroundings and neighbours. The double-volume entrance has substantial presence, and relates perfectly to the retail centre on the west side.

The building envelope is well designed to balance the need for light with the heat overload from vast glazing.

Inside, the impressive atrium is covered by a steel and glass roof – an innovative skylight that enhances natural light in the interiors. Developed by Leaf Structures, the 465m2 skylight yields over 97% transparency through a three-pin beam design that reduced the need for steel beams, placing it top in the Skylight category at the South African Institute for Steel Construction (SAISC) 2020 Awards.

A significant visual landmark on the northern side of the atrium is the white sculptural cantilevered staircase that connects all floors and merges seamlessly with the curves of each floor’s walkways. It’s enticingly positioned to woo occupants to choose this active option over the sedentary one of the lift, and in addition, promotes sociability for the diverse range of tenants. It received a commendation in the 2020 SAISC Awards for its innovative off-site construction and on-site installation.

The building’s distinctive curved facade above the main entrance provides a welcoming pedestrian experience and key access route to the precinct’s amenities.


Natural light is always a significant sustainability and wellness factor, and at Park Lane West, the staggered window grid and balcony structures ensure that all tenants – up to six per floor – have good quality daylight and views, and an accessible outdoor balcony without the need for floor-to-ceiling glazing. On top of the building, the shared roof garden provides further access to fresh air and the feel-good factor of breathtaking views. The building envelope is well designed to balance the need for light with the heat overload from vast glazing, and employs devices such as performance glazing, recessed balconies and smaller glazing ratios, all of which contribute to reduced heat gain and energy consumption.

The building’s double-volume entrance has substantial presence.

Solid Green Consulting was the Accredited Professional on Park Lane West. According to Senior Sustainable Building Consultant Zendré Compion: “Site selection is critical in a green building context. This precinct identified an island of large suburban stands flanked by a substantial retail mall, auto-retailers and large public roads, to redevelop into a far denser multi-use urban space.”

The design of the precinct encourages alternative and public transport use, and provides an alternative means of access to single-occupant private cars. The Gautrain services the precinct, its bus stopping in front of the building, direction Hatfield Gautrain Station. The Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) service is a work in progress, and the A Re Yeng bus station will offer a service connecting to Hatfield and through to the west of the city, and to Mamelodi in the east. Tshwane Bus Services and the para-transit industry also service the precinct.

Green buildings contribute greatly to occupants’ wellness, ensuring health, and pleasurable working spaces.

Compion refers to the good “walkability” of the precinct, and points out how the developers were – and remain – constantly focused on innovating and facilitating pedestrian movement. Well lit, planted sidewalks connect to the rest of the precinct’s pedestrian infrastructure – bus stops, ample safe road crossings and traffic-calming measures mean building occupants will walk rather than drive for an errand or a meeting. Passive safety and inclusive design principles at this building (but also at the precinct mall, park and hospital) bring down this corporate building to a human scale.

Development Manager Jurgens van Huyssteen of Menlyn Maine describes how, from the outset, they worked together with the local authority: “Menlyn Maine as a precinct upgraded all the infrastructure in and around it, including roads, sidewalks, electricity, water, sewers, and even landscaping and security infrastructure. The precinct is testament to what is possible when the private and public sectors work together to create something new.”

A hybrid working OPTION

As with all office space, Covid had a big impact on Park Lane West – the building was completed two weeks before lockdown: “We had a brand-new building unoccupied,” says Van Huyssteen. “The building is multi-tenanted, so we had some floors unlet and we lost a few potential tenants.”

But Menlyn Maine saw Covid as an opportunity to introduce a hybrid working option to Park Lane West: “Colab was born, and is now the single largest tenant in the building – taking up around 6 500m2 of lettable area – catering specifically for like-minded individuals, start-ups, and small companies striving to collaborate, innovate and thrive,” says Van Huyssteen. “The concept of flexible, hybrid working has been hugely successful: the space is currently 95% occupied, seats are in high demand and expansion possibilities are being investigated.” But importantly, this fed into Menlyn Maine’s strong focus on wellness of occupants and members: “Green buildings contribute to this to a very large extent, ensuring health, and pleasurable working conditions and spaces. But the enhancement in environment and the vibe created in the building by Colab has been massive, and contributes to an overall feeling of positivity. Even the other tenants have started using some of the Colab offerings and amenities, and are engaging with our members on a working and social level.”

Material matters

For Compion, “Material selection is growing in importance if we want to build more sustainable cities. While industry and load shedding will eventually force cleaner operational carbon, it is our design decisions that impact the upfront or embodied carbon of buildings. While reduced cement content in concrete and recycled steel have become industry standard, it remains challenging to demonstrate good material selection on the other major building components. Looking into big-cost items on building materials is a good place to start, and Park Lane West could show that the building’s windows had a high recycled content both on aluminium frames and glass. It’s not always straightforward to get the required accurate, detailed information about the embodied carbon of materials from the supply chain, but with some healthy pressure on industry and, hopefully, changes in regulation, availability of embodied carbon data will move up the priority list.”

It is our design decisions that impact the upfront or embodied carbon of buildings.

A contributing sustainability feature at Park Lane West was that the building was delivered as shell and core, with the tenant fit-outs executed on a different contract as integrated fit-outs. This ensured less construction waste throughout the building life span than a typical delivery, where first tenants are already ripping out generic fittings.

The sculptural cantilevered staircase connects all floors and merges with the curves of each floor’s walkways.

Occupants’ wellness is always tied to high fresh air rates, and at Park Lane West, all occupied areas receive such. Outdoor air is delivered at a 66% higher rate than the SANS 10400-O standard, to counteract the accumulation of indoor pollutants. This is achieved via the energy-efficient air-conditioning, which allows more fresh air to be introduced into the building without significantly increasing the building’s energy use. The building has two air-cooled chiller tanks housed in the basement, and a thermal storage tank that is “charged” at night during off-peak hours when electricity is cheaper, and provides 50% of the building’s peak energy demand during the day.

Sustainability MEASURES

To reduce the overall energy consumption of the building, various strategies were employed. Energy modelling carried out during the building’s design stages assisted in reducing operational energy consumption by 42% compared to a national building model. Thermal energy storage reduces the energy demand of the mechanical system, and shifts the heating and cooling load off peak.

Ongoing management of energy consumption is in place through sub-metering of tenancies and all substantive energy loads, and occupancy sensors positioned throughout the circulation and common areas ensure lights are only on when needed.

The interior is imbued with natural light, clean lines and curves; (Right) a sculptural cantilevered staircase promotes sociability for the diverse range of tenants.

From the top down, water strategies were implemented to reduce the use of potable water – this was achieved through the efficient design of building systems and metering and monitoring of water consumption. Reducing potable water consumption upfront simultaneously reduces the impact on public infrastructure and sewers.

Waterwise initiatives begin with rainwater collection on the roof, filtered and treated for external irrigation and toilet flushing. Waterwise sanitary fittings and waterless urinals are standard, while efficient irrigation systems further reduce potable water demand.

All thermal insulating materials used in the project have an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of zero, ensuring no adverse impact to the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer over the long term. Likewise, the paints and carpets are low in volatile organic compunds (VOC), which contributes to healthier indoor environments for building users.

Innovation was a sought-after sustainability goal and tool at Park Lane West, and continues to be so post-rating. Compion comments on the exterior lighting. “At night, the building features are subtly lit with strip lighting, and pathways and access points have warm downlights that serve their important safety and accessibility functions. Light pollution is often an afterthought, but good lighting design has clear benefit for the environment and the residential building next door.”

Compion pointed out another significant factor in the sustainability journey: “More than five members of the professional team and four representatives from the contractor completed the Green Building Council South Africa’s New Building Accredited Professional course. From an educational, skills and knowledge perspective, we deemed this to be an important milestone.”

Standing loud and proud in the Menlyn Park precinct, Park Lane West’s design flexibility offers occupants of varying size enterprises – from a hot-desking solo entrepreneur to a large corporate – a range of customised and unique spaces, all set within a dynamic urban environment offering walkable access to both essential and luxury facilities – and quality transport – on their doorstep. The resource efficiency and occupants’ well-being strategies employed at Park Lane West are clearly paying dividends, as everybody – driven by the developers at Menlyn Maine – works towards the betterment and fine-tuning of this increasingly energised urban environment. Van Huyssteen feels that “the benefits derived from green buildings on occupants are sometimes difficult to measure. However, we do believe they enhance the working experience, thereby increasing occupant satisfaction, productivity, creativity and overall well-being.”