In line with the sustainability goals of the international Radisson Hotel Group, it followed naturally that the building would pursue a Green Star Rating, in recognition of the many eco-conscious attributes that have virtually become the norm in an increasingly carbon-neutral built environment.
The main façade of the building faces down Oxford Road, its sharply cut “nose” forming a powerful urban edge to the development at the head of a central diagonal boulevard, which includes a landscaped piazza edged by shops and restaurants.
Designed by dhk architects, the hotel follows a simple and typically efficient layout, being linear in configuration with standard rooms and suites arranged along a central corridor, and special end units defined by the expressed aluminium and glass bookends.
The building shares brand DNA with its sister building in the V&A Waterfront, constructed some years ago, with the long façades sharing the large, punctured picture windows. “Instead of bagged brickwork adopted in the original, a light face-brick façade was proposed,” says Peter Fehrsen, founding partner at dhk. “Here, the decision was to create a façade of stack bond brickwork, which successfully masks the myriad of horizontal and vertical structural joints usually associated with this form of construction. The stacked face-brick is not only visually pleasing, adding a richness of surface texture, but has the added advantage of being maintenance free,” he adds.
Art in life
Fehrsen goes on to explain that in contrast to the deliberately strong punctured expression of the mid-section of the building, responding to the rhythm of the modular rooms, the ground and first floors present a highly glazed, transparent, double-volume, visual welcome to the outside world. “A strong set of red columns define and highlight the entrance foyer. Here the lounge and restaurant spill out onto the outdoor patio seating areas, becoming an active public interface, and animating the prominent corner with its winged sculpture, now fast-becoming a hotspot for selfies and photo opportunities,” he says.
As for the upper floors, they are set back to house the plant areas and zany rooftop bar and terrace with panoramic sunset views and a red lap pool, which all responds to the innovative interior architecture and decorative theme created specifically for the Rosebank Red Radisson in collaboration with interior designers, Source Interiors.
The 222-bedroom hotel, with two all-day dining facilities, reflects the energy of the surrounding urban art, fashion, and music hub and caters to professional millennials, digital nomads, connected young families, and their pets. The brand ethos uses terminology such as calling staff “creatives”, with curator (traditionally general manager) Carly de Jong explaining the Red experience of sophisticated, fun and relaxed hospitality. “It’s a fantastic brand. I come from a very traditional, corporate, five-star environment and this is really where the future of hotels is going,” she says.
The Radisson Hotel Group is also very much aligned with green initiatives that work towards “sustaining our beautiful planet for travellers to enjoy”. The V&A Radisson Red obtained a 5-Star Green Star Rating, and the Rosebank project was designed in accordance with the requirements to achieve its 5-Star Green Star Custom Hotel v1 Design Rating. Comprehensive strategies have been implemented to optimise savings across energy and water, as well as environmental initiatives to enhance occupant wellbeing. All of these elements are quantified through effective sub-metering and monitoring, along with the potential financial savings which going green creates. The building is designed to achieve an energy consumption efficiency which amounts to over a 48% improvement of energy use when compared to the notional building, while water-efficient fittings are estimated to achieve approximately a 30% saving. Through recycling and reuse initiatives, a minimum waste saving of 5% has been targeted. The hotel’s HVAC (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning) system has two water-system chillers which are energy saving as both have heat-recovery systems.
Above and beyond
Janet Glendinning, development manager, Intaprop, says that in addition to the hotel’s Building Management System and learning resources, which are provided for building occupants and visitors on a continual display, an initiative from the project which stands out is the inclusion of signage throughout the hotel that encourages the reduction of single-use plastic and paper by providing bodywash, shampoo, conditioner and soap in dispensers and only providing other single-use items upon request; encouraging guests to separate waste into two categories; and the removal of the towel/sheet replacement policy.
“The Radisson Red also honours the importance of a precinct which captures the connectivity of business, life and leisure within a single network; and embraces the intent of a predominantly pedestrian environment,” Glendinning says. “There are eight local amenities within 400m walking distance of Oxford Parks, including a school, day care, gym, bank, restaurant, medical centre, pharmacy and dry cleaners.” It is located within easy access to the Gautrain and Gautrain mass transport facilities, and also encourages the use of bicycles through offering bike racks and a staff shower.
As with many developments, the gestation of a viable commercial scheme undergoes many iterations, twists, and turns often over several years. Fehrsen comments that this development was no different. “Although always conceived as a hotel, the first designs were based on an assumed generic room module which was taken to the market to secure an operator while construction continued on site. Ultimately, when international hospitality group, Radisson were introduced into the mix, with their exciting Red Radisson Brand and the current owners RDC came on board, the desired business synergy was achieved, finance was released, and Intaprop were finally able to push the green light on the construction of the top structure – which presented the challenge of adapting the current floor grid to a narrower building envelope and superstructure,” he says. “In collaboration with PURE, our structural engineers, we were able to successfully absorb and integrate the resulting structural gymnastics, without effecting the overall aesthetics of the building.”
Fehrsen also commends the Concor construction team and the rest of the professional team for their incredible efforts in continuing unabated through the Covid-19 lockdown that followed shortly after construction on site commenced. “They navigated all the challenges associated with remote working, months of site shut down and then the strict safety measures needed to effect a safe working environment, as industry slowly emerged into a new reality of masks, social distancing and limited numbers on site. Despite these extremely testing circumstances, they were able to adapt their processes without compromising delivery,” he says. “We’re very proud of the product and happy to welcome Radisson RED to our prestigious precinct,” adds Glendinning.
Sadly, the pandemic affected dhk’s Johannesburg studio in a very profound way, with the tragic passing of the lead project architect on the job, Thapelo Letsoalo, due to Covid-19, in the thick of the project. “Despite having to wrestle with the obvious sadness and irreplaceable personal loss of a dear colleague, the studio staff rallied to adjust to the difficult circumstances. The finished building, completed on time and on budget, stands as a fitting tribute to his memory,” concludes Fehren.