bmwros banner

BMW South Africa, Rosslyn

PROJECT   Images

The Assembly Plant of BMW South Africa, located in the Rosslyn industrial area abutting the bushveld plains to the north of Pretoria, is an expansive industrial environment where state-of-the-art assembly lines and systems, housed in a number of vast steel-framed and clad assembly halls, takes cars through a production process of body assembly, painting, and final assembly and finishing.

The company's ethics are evidenced by a pioneering safety health and environmental program, and formal recognition for the associated exemplary environmental and human resources development programmes. Within this institutional context BMW SA has invested R2,2 billion in the plant during the period 2009-2012 to move to 24 hour operations and a production capacity exceeding 80000 units per year, more than doubling its export volumes. As a relatively small part of its infrastructural investment BMW commissioned an upgrade of its staff canteen facilities located amidst the utilitarian industrial architecture of the plant, to cater for the larger, 2500 person workforce engaged during a newly introduced 24 hour three-shift production cycle.

The brief called for a central industrial kitchen with HACCP-compliant hygiene standards and DIN performance specifications. The kitchen is to serve a new main canteen with multiple menus daily and, through distribution of pre-packed meals, an additional four satellite canteens and food outlets newly configured within existing structures on BMW premises.

The main kitchen and canteen site is constrained by two low, flanking walkways, which serve as main infrastructure gantries for the plant and could not be touched, as well as existing changerooms which the Client elected to retain, rather than redevelop as part of the project. The canteen has been slotted into this setting with a layout aimed at combining optimum process flows for kitchen and serving operations with optimum use of spatial potential offered by the setting for the benefit of patrons.

The kitchen design is largely dictated by the process flows and HACCP dictates requiring clear separation of clean and dirty processes right up to the separation of HVAC infrastructure, and separation of movement through a variety of cleaning sluices. Whereas kitchens require extensive air handling installations due to functional and health dictates, the canteen runs on assisted ventilation only, and uses only daylighting during daylight hours. Hot water for all operations is generated by an extensive solar water heating plant on the changeroom roof.

The main design concept for the canteen employs a minimalist tectonic approach for maximum spatial effect: Set against the solid enclosures around the kitchen and plant areas, a grid of branched columns carries a slightly tilted roof which flows seamlessly from an interior servery and seating area, over a full-height glass wall to a generous exterior seating terrace, with views onto surrounding gardens. Branching of the columns triangulates the structure and obviates the need for trusses, thus not only enhancing the sense of lightness and openness, but doing so in a cost-effective manner. The oreintation ensures shading inside and outside throughout the hot summer days, while permitting early-morning warmth through the glass in winter.

The columns become the defining feature of the architecture, mimicking the flat-crowned acacias of the region, and at the same time acknowledging the industrial architecture of the assembly plant in the materials and the nature of their use. Within this space the fixed servery counters and loose furnishing elements, detailed in a restrained palette of granite and stainless steel, combined with the warmth of walnut, define and integrate the spatial uses. In its overall conception the canteen acts as an oasis within the factory environment, a place of formal gathering, informal meeting and respite from the factory floor and executive offices alike.

In addition to branding via the finishing palette across all satellite canteens in buildings elsewhere, the theme of branched columns has been replicated in those satellite food outlets located within the plant as an integrating theme signifying places of rest and refreshment.