The GE Africa Innovation Centre (GE AIC) was awarded with the SAPOA Award for best Innovative Development 2017 at the annual SA Property Owners Association Awards ceremony on Thursday 22 June 2017.
Hailed by GE executives as one of the most exciting and innovative buildings in the GE portfolio, the GE Africa Innovation Centre was designed and built in a record time of one year, and launched on 13 June 2016.
The GE AIC is dedicated to evolving innovative and sustainable solutions to African challenges, and is one of a network of eight GE Innovation Centres, and 32 GE Research, Digital Foundries and Garages globally.
The annual SAPOA Awards recognise property professionals who undertake massive projects that result in globally competitive property developments. The awards celebrate exceptional design quality, green building, originality and efficiency in the commercial, industrial, residential and other property spaces, and showcase some of the country’s most prestigious property developments and refurbishments.
The GE AIC: Features
Providing a dynamic showcase for GE in the region, and a home for global thought leadership, the glass-encased, three-story GE AIC building, overlooking a verdant golf course, immediately created an impact - with its striking African industrial design features - and has become a favoured venue for internal and external clients alike. It is also the first GE building to achieve Green-LEED status in Africa.
The flexible and agile layout accommodates both permanent tenants and temporary visitors: The GE Africa Innovation, GE Africa Healthcare, GE Digital and Monitoring, and GE Londvolota teams as well as GE Africa Learning and Development.
The GE AIC: Innnovation at Work: From Design and Construction to Daily Usage
The brief to the architects, Paragon Architects, South Africa, was to design a building that not only incorporated the best of GE cutting edge (digital and industrial) technological innovation and thought-leadership, but also leveraged local, African, innovation in industrial design. And it is this ability to take a brief to construction, and ultimately innovative usage, that earned the team accolades, and now the SAPOA Award.
The construction and architectural team, led by Tino Rodrigues of GE Properties, reporting to client and project sponsor, Ross Boyd in South Africa, and GE Properties Ben Preston in Dubai, worked closely with local design and innovation consultants and acclaimed South African art gallerist and curator, Monna Mokoena, to brief over 30 local industrial designers to create bespoke furniture and features for the building.
The key feature is the three-storey high mural and reception desk by globally acclaimed Botswana designer, Peter Mabeo. Working closely to depict the brief “Where GE and Africa Meet: the African Fractal”, Mabeo and his team used over 1500 individual pieces of indigenous wood to create the glowing blue mural, multi-coloured reception desk and entrance canopy. Other artists include David Krynauw, who carved the massive collaborative café tables, Goet, Dokter and Misses, and many more.
It is this commitment to local design and global excellence that permeates the space, encouraging flexible, agile, and innovative work practices.
The public access ground floor is dedicated to visitors, collaboration and events: The vibrant GE Café, serving healthy local food, is filled with an African design ethos. The contiguous digital and tactile GE Experience provides a hands-on introduction to the work of GE globally and in Africa. The vast exhibition space has housed significant events and launches, while the glass-walled collaboration and co-creation rooms are equipped with both high-tech tools and writable wall surfaces.
Integrating local industrial design and the best of global workplace principles and ergonomic features, the facility includes a contemporary African health café, showers, bicycle racks and is located close to gyms, commercial hubs and global accommodation.
Pause areas, meeting rooms and workspace are digitally integrated and equipped with wifi, telepresence and connectivity throughout the building. The GE Global Brain can be accessed through permanent and temporary telepresence rooms and facilities
Innovation and flexibility are paramount in the agile working spaces on the first floor and meeting spaces on the second floor, and include sliding stacking writable glass doors – and even writable surfaces on all interior walls. The interior walls are demountable in order to ensure easy re-construction at termination of the lease.
The first floor Healthcare Experience centre also provided a unique challenge – including the best of working hospital equipment and features. A hoist was added to the upper floors to ensure the ease of access for large-scale equipment the GE AIC provides a welcoming work-space for permanent and casual visitors.
The GE AIC: Innovation and Excellence Daily:
The GE AIC is not only a beautiful, award-winning model for local and global innovation: It encourages Innovation in everything the tenants do. With over 6700 unique visitors and averaging 5 functions and meetings per workday, and 70 to 130 permanent tenants daily, the GE AIC has operated at full capacity since opening, with a dynamic and innovative facilities team ensuring ongoing service excellence, and thus, extensive tenant satisfaction.