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dhk Architects were engaged by Capitec Bank to design their offices located in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Capitec Bank, one of the largest and most progressive banks in Africa, has unveiled its innovative new headquarters, iKhaya, meaning ‘home’ in Xhosa. Designed by multidisciplinary studio, dhk Architects, the three-storey curvilinear building is defined by its dynamic interior architecture, which embodies the company’s progressive outlook and embraces the concept of agile working. Striking and otherworldly, dhk’s holistic architectural approach considers both the exterior and interior to optimise corporate expenditure, internal flow and sustainability – demonstrating that commercial offices can be innovative and cost-effective while driving operational efficiencies.

The building form optimises the shape and size of the site while referencing the brand’s distinctive curved logo. The three-storey superstructure wraps around itself, which creates a unique ‘doughnut’ shape and forms a central triple-volume atrium – an internal ‘social spine’ at the heart of the building. Contributing to the contemporary appearance, white aluminium panels clad the building’s sinuous form which is further accentuated with continuous ribbons of fenestration.

Internally, the design resonates with the company’s progressive outlook – ensuring guests and staff unequivocally feel the spirit of the brand throughout the building. Once at reception, visitors are greeted by a generous triple-volume space that immediately showcases the sophistication and simplicity of the interior architecture. Wide open-plan floorplates loop around the periphery of the atrium which are connected by a series of dramatic bridges and staircases. This was an intentional design element which inter-connects the various departments, creating opportunities for chance collaborative encounters and personal interactions.

The new headquarters by dhk fosters a company culture of creativity, innovation and collaboration with a large emphasis placed on optimising internal flow and departmental interaction. The first and second floors, containing the office’s open-plan work areas, are largely void of hierarchal structure and closed-off cubicles. Embracing the concept of agile working, a raised access floor throughout the building facilitates maintenance and future upgrades to services. On each level, a total of four ‘cores’, containing centralized amenities such as kitchenettes, meeting rooms, breakout areas, lockers, bathrooms and fire escapes, serve to augment the floorplates into departmental zones.

Throughout the building’s ‘social spine’ there are a variety of breakaway areas; from a large ground-floor lounge at reception for guests to await meetings and co-workers to engage, to pause areas on bridges, and an internal landscaped courtyard for staff to rest. These spaces fuel creativity and innovation by allowing employees to slip away from their resident desks to enjoy a moment of solitude, conduct a private meeting or brainstorm ideas in small groups. Not only do these breakout areas increase job satisfaction, but they boost staff productivity and efficiency.

Looking to the future, the development incorporates a car parking structure on an adjacent site that follows iKhaya’s core principles, designed for future adaptation into an office should there be a modal shift towards public transportation and less reliance on private cars.

Design: dhk Architects
Photography: Adam Letch

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