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When Harare-based training and conferencing company Sabre decided to purchase and renovate a property they opted for a prestigious location on a main thoroughfare that was previously used as a nightclub. Hiring Pantic Architects for the architectural concepts and interior design work was a logical choice as they had already completed more than a few successful projects together.

Existing buildings

The main building was a series of dark interconnected corridors and spaces perhaps apt for its previous function but not the new owners and purpose. A conference center was envisaged with multiple spaces both internal and external that could house meetings, presentations, conferences, and training from as small as two to 180 people.

Architectural concept

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The interior designers enriched the external spaces through a series of steel canopies that emphasized the various features and areas of the complex while minimizing alterations on existing structures. The entrance was highlighted and enhanced through a triangular canopy that copied the hipped roof of the main building and provided a focus on the main facade. Additionally, it was a feature visible from the road.

Staying outside

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A central area was created that would host the snack and bar area and external venues. A larger steel canopy was created to cover this area and create a fun structure within the yard that would shield the area from the sun and rain and create a contrast to the residential architecture.

Natural surroundings

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The internal garden was reinvigorated, a waterfall added and the vegetation carefully chosen and nurtured to create a lush cool internal space perfect for small intimate meetings. The fall of the water helped add natural sound to the environment and mask conversations and meetings from each other. A series of small sheltered areas were created with differing moods and levels of privacy to cater to the various needs of users.

Internal layouts

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A central corridor was gutted out and large doors and windows on both sides opened up to provide ample natural light and ventilation into the space. Meeting rooms of various sizes were created on one side of the corridor while a serving counter and service areas were positioned on the other. The largest conference room was created upstairs by removing the ceilings and through ingenious lighting creating a light airy open space for conferences and presentations. This space opened up onto a private balcony and serving area overlooking the whole complex.

Mood and approach

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The complex would also serve as an exhibition space for office furniture that would rotate as new trends became current. Each meeting room would use temporary office chairs and tables that would be on sale. As such the interior design had to cater to unforeseen elements of furniture that would come in the future. The interior designers opted for a monochromatic finish in whites, greys and black highlights on all internal and external surfaces that would complement all future additions without clashing. The only elements of colour were the natural elements such as plants, creepers, and warm internal lighting.

Contrast

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The rustic look of the face brick building was reduced by tinting all the bricks and roof sheets white and light grey. So the corporate branding and vegetation stood out clearly and the building stood out amongst the natural elements.

The welcome face-lift to the conferencing facility has brought in new life to the complex and Sabre’s business has excelled. The subdued approach has had a strong effect!