The brief for the interiors of the financial-services companies at 1 Park Lane demanded a blended approach tailored to distinctly individual requirements


Behind the sophisticated dark-glass towers of 1 Park Lane soaring above Sandton are the offices of an array of financial-services firms, each with its own identity, brand, client and staff needs. But accommodating variety in a seamless, gleaming whole is something Paragon Interface has learnt to do, developing a way of making the most efficient buildings that are widely diversified behind a unified facade.

‘The design brief for 1 Park Lane was to create a building with highly flexible office space that could accommodate tenants with varying space requirements,’ says Paragon Group senior architectural technologist Dhiraj Ramsaroop, who oversaw the base build.

‘The floorplates for the offices are located around two central cores that enable the building to function efficiently, while allowing all tenant requirements to take advantage of the panoramic views of Sandton. ‘The building also caters for private terraces for them – the design team took advantage of the building’s height and maximised the views to the north and south, using floor-to-ceiling glazing with no spandrel panels and sills.’

It fell to interior architect Kirsty Schoombie, a senior associate at Paragon Interface, as project lead to showcase these features, creating new corporate homes for Peregrine and fellow wealth-management specialists Citadel; hedge-fund managers Peregrine Capital; stockbrokers Peresec; and stock exchange A2X.

Schoombie’s special focus areas are corporate office space planning, workplace strategy, design and detailing – and she has polished this in a slew of notable projects, from Absa Capital at nearby 15 Alice Lane to the head offices of Sasol and Discovery. ‘I’m inspired by watching design become reality; by working to enhance spaces that people occupy and creating spaces that enhance people’s lives,’ she says. ‘God is in the detail – there is beauty in simplicity.’

The challenge with 1 Park Lane was ‘to accommodate each business’ own individual requirements in terms of their ways of working, branding and overall aesthetics, but to see that there was some continuity across the building interior’. The way her team resolved this was ‘to treat each business as a unique space with its own unique design, but ensure that there was a common thread in terms of design, colour palette and materials that run through all the different businesses, and also to the base build architecture of 1 Park Lane’.

Complex as this was, Schoombie says the project ran ‘very smoothly, due to a hands-on and solution-focused team between developer, architect, interior architect, consultants, contractor and clients’.

1 Park Lane has seven levels of parking and a ground floor, with Bidvest financial services occupying the building from the ground floor reception to Level 4. An imposing one-and-a-half volume space on Level 5, 10 floors above Katherine Street, forms a shared reception area for Peregrine and Citadel (which occupy Levels 5 to 10) and opens into a series of client meeting rooms, an auditorium and external roof gardens.

‘Our brief was to relocate the clients from their existing building; to create a refined client experience; and to give employees the most comfortable work environment, with maximum natural light and well-designed work stations,’ says Schoombie. The Paragon Interface team has done that while creating a space that is elegant and upmarket, from the pale stone reception desk to the large-format timber-look floor and plush carpets in neutral shades of grey, and a slatted ceiling that reflects the building’s external facade.

Opening off one side of the reception area is an impressive client-entertainment area. This is centred on the 100-seater state-of-the-art auditorium, glazed on two sides for panoramic views over Inanda towards the city. Its positioning and acoustics posed some of the bigger technical challenges for the team, but were addressed by acoustic engineers Linspace.

‘To help counter the undesirable side reflections from the glazed walls, we created an interior acoustics shell around the seating areas within the glass box,’ says Linspace director and principal engineer Ivan Lin. ‘The left and right walls are higher between the glass facade and passage to enclose the seating. And the ceiling is profiled with materials that are in some parts sound-reflective and, in other parts, sound-absorptive.’

The materials were chosen in collaboration with the interior design team from the outset, he says, with consideration for aesthetics as well as acoustics. ‘Rather than using fabric-covered panels, for example, the design team opted for perforated panels as a finish for sound-absorptive materials.’

Albert Moffat, of shopfitters Moffats Creations, which did the installation, adds that ‘we used 16 mm medium-density fibre superwood panels that we fitted to the ceiling, perforated with holes 20 mm in diameter’.

The overall result is that it is possible for speakers at conferences and presentations to be audible even without a microphone. ‘That’s the ultimate goal for acousticians,’ says Lin.

Opening off the other side of the reception area is a series of differently sized meeting rooms, each given a distinct personality in a memorable way. ‘Boardrooms and meeting spaces are usually named by default – after famous people, trees, colours and so on,’ says Simon Bunkell of ad agency Bain & Bunkell, who came up with the concept.

‘The virtue of working with a collaborative team like Kirsty’s is that opportunities open up for more creative design thinking. In the case of Citadel, the building’s floor-to-ceiling glazing inspired us to consider Citadel as a castle, with “turrets” and “barbicons” that allowed for views across Sandton and beyond. With that idea established, each of the 16 meeting rooms was then named after the aspect that could be seen from it: Magaliesberg, Vilakazi Street, Lanseria, City Hall, and so on.

‘We took some licence with the distance, but the idea was to orientate Citadel within its immediate environment, city and society. The geographical co-ordinates for each landmark were noted on the exterior naming panels, and we commissioned photographer Tristan McLaren to take bespoke shots of each location. These photos were then framed and incorporated into the interior decor of each room.’ The final result is satisfying for several reasons. ‘It’s innovative but on-brand,’ says Bunkell. ‘It allows for a cohesive way-finding journey through the space; it adds to the internal Citadel conversation; and it demonstrates the advantages of collaboration.’

Similar creativity is at play on the 10th floor, though through different means. This is the trading floor, with its own reception area, meeting rooms, bar and entertainment area looking towards Sandton and the CBD, and is home to hedge-fund managers Peregrine Capital and vibrant stockbroking firm Peresec (which also occupies part of the 9th floor).

‘We made the Peresec design edgier than the Citadel design,’ says Schoombie. ‘It’s a double-volume tech space, and we brought in bold graphics that we conceptualised ourselves, using accents in orange, their corporate colour.’ This plays out against sleek, black terrazzo tiles, leather sofas, reconstituted stone and glass, and a collection of SA art that Peresec brought over from their previous premises, and which Schoombie and her team curated.

For Peregrine Capital, the team created a different look that is mature and refined. ‘We used luxurious carpeting, walnut timber panelling and accent lights to introduce ambiance in places,’ says Schoombie. ‘We kept colours neutral, with greys and a touch of their corporate blue.’

The last of their 1 Park Lane clients, A2X, which occupies part of the 6th floor, was yet another proposition. ‘As a small financial business start-up they were on a budget, but we kept the look and feel of the overall building while incorporating their corporate teal blue and yellow.’ This was done through the selection of artwork and the creation of a feature wall with lit-up signage, and news cuttings arrestingly framed.

Throughout these disparate interiors, the comfort and well-being of tenants and their employees were prioritised in line with sustainability values, says Schoombie, with height-adjustable desks and ergonomic seating; the use of green-certified materials; green plantings indoors and on roof terraces; and the creation of a gym, sauna and steam room and communal coffee shop to relax and unwind.

‘One of the biggest challenges for some clients was the change from a traditional closed-off office plan to a more open-plan set-up, so we spent time with them, ensuring that a level of privacy was maintained while still taking optimal advantage of the natural light and creating a more open, collaborative space,’ she says. ‘Paragon Interface projects aren’t driven by style, but by lifestyle and a response to user needs.’

Bidvest Properties

Peregrine Capital


Moffats Creations


CKR Consulting Engineers

MNS Consulting


Ochre Office

Bain & Bunkell

By Glynis Horning
Images: Sarah De Pina

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