NMBM Customer Care Centre
This project is an extensive interior reworking of the ground floor of both Mafanasekhaya Gqobose Building and Fidelity House on busy Govan Mbeki Avenue to incorporate a contemporary and ‘Flag Ship’ public information facility and a wide range of related office spaces. Both structures are 1960’s and 1970’s built tower blocks on large bases and built into the steeply sloping site. Over time the interiors had, through many changes, become complex spaces broken up by walls and passages that was not only difficult to use but not compliant with contemporary building regulations in many regards. The existing banking hall and specific security support services was also inadequate.
Of the many challenges of the project, a starting point was found in an understanding of the hierarchy of spaces, the staff members of each department, the Municipality’s organogram and exactness of their every day operations. The Metro, aware of the public nature of some of the spaces of the Budget and Treasury Department, set a challenge for the renovated facilities to be more people friendly (public and staff) and in many ways less formal and corporate, but to be more secure and efficient. Spaces were also required to be more in line with current office design trends and good space planning incorporating more open plan and flexible spaces.
The project attends to various functionality and office efficiency requirements and the restrictive realities of security and controlled access in a way that creates places that feel more naturally easy to use, safe and understandable and also allows for moments of interest and delight. This is created through the use of various techniques such as more open plan offices introduced whilst addressing the need for closed, more private spaces and services. The more closed elements are pushed to the sides and back and open plan areas collected together in the centre and close to the large windows onto Govan Mbeki Avenue and the use of passages is minimised in favour of a series of interlinked more public spaces. Poor building systems in the previous layout are also addressed – this has been done through the reworking of air-conditioning and lighting systems.
The new work makes reference to the strong (and period specific) decorative elements of the existing building (timber panelling and mosaics, for example) in a contemporary way that creates places that have the formality that an important Municipal facility requires and also shows a ‘friendly face’ to visitors to the Department Budget and Treasury.
The banking hall and front of house public areas are conceptualised as open, spacious, accessible and linked visually to the busy Govan Mbeki Avenue alongside through a long line of shop fronts. The banking hall is finished in timber panelling and includes a large "orientation" art installation on its ceiling that allows the public using the facility to experience the Metro (through the use of an aerial photograph) and points of significance highlighted.
It is believed that, although challenged by factors common to work of this nature such as changing organograms and budget, (some elements were not completed, especially in the entrance foyer) that overall outcome is positive and supports a better work and interactive environment.