Wesgrow Headquarters, Christiana

Wesgrow (est. 1964) is a farmer-owned company situated in the Western Free State. They have been supplying the industry with potato seed varieties for the past 55 years, which they source from their distinguished potato variety breeders in Holland and Scotland.

Their offices have always been in Christiana, with different departments scattered all over town. They acquired a game farm on the Free State side of the Vaal River, and decided to build their new head office building on this beautiful unspoilt piece of land. The brief was clear, no pretentious modern building that tries to make a statement.

Their idea was more of a Transvaal Vernacular style building, with separate buildings joined by walkways all on one level, that would accommodate the different functions of this big company.

The master plan comprises an admin component, built around a courtyard with a reception area, offices, boardroom and kitchen facilities for staff members. The interior of this building is modern, with all the necessary state of the art IT equipment.

Totally separate from this square building, is the 44 seater main boardroom for their shareholders, and a lounge with bar area and huge stone clad fireplace. This is certainly not for everyday use. The interior is more Colonial, with exposed solid Saligna trusses, solid timber floors, chandeliers and ceiling fans. It certainly makes a statement without saying a word. This area in turn leads out onto a 280m² covered entertainment area, with a 4 metre wide stone clad braai.

The separate buildings are all connected with verandas to contribute to the Colonial Vernacular character of the development. The verandas have detailed steel columns with exposed Saligna beams and stained shutter board ceilings.

This project has certainly raised the bar in my practice in terms of attention to detail, and reinforced my love for architecture. Many sketches have been made, models built and samples prepared, all to be approved by Ian Easby and Gerhard Posthumus. They know exactly what they want, and they will leave no stone unturned to achieve just that.

Completed: 2021.