Corporate trimming and remote offices have led to many abandoned buildings and office blocks in cities around the world. Fortunately, there are innovative entrepreneurs out there who are repurposing these unused spaces into funky, functional ones. Once the headquarters of a global corporate, 25 Fredman Drive in Sandton found a new lease on life as Black Brick - a luxurious apart-hotel and vertical village catering for flexible millennial lifestyles. I was invited along with a group of other journalists and bloggers to spend the night there and experience it.
Situated in Africa’s richest square mile, the building with its striking jet-black exposed brick façade, is conveniently located in the Sandton CBD, just one block away from Sandton City and 800 metres away from the Gautrain Station. Developed by Black Brick, a group which takes unused or neglected corporate spaces and transforms them into cool, affordable living spaces, the Sandton premises were the first to open, in November 2020. Another office block across this one will be launched soon, and more are set to open in Cape Town and Umhlanga, Durban next year. The idea is for members to eventually be able to move seamlessly between cities without having to pay double rent.
Based on the idea of having everything under one roof, Black Brick comprises apartments, hotel rooms, working and socializing spaces. The building houses co-working and meeting areas, a small library, a private cinema, a boxing gym, a meditation garden, and cafes. The interior reflects an industrial design with murals by local artists. Hospitality services such as on-site management, apartment servicing and room service are also available.
Short and long term guests are catered for. There are one and two bedroom apartments on the upper floors available for purchase or rental while the boutique hotel on the lower levels has 75 rooms. The open-plan hotel rooms are spacious and feature working, lounging and sleeping areas, with designer furniture from Weylandts and stylish black appliances in the fully equipped kitchenettes. You can expect ultra-comfortable beds, USB charging points and super-fast fibre internet. In keeping with the millennial ethos, when you switch on the smart television, you will find Netflix instead of traditional TV channels.
Once you check in, you become a temporary member of the Black Brick Club. If you’re not staying there, you can still join the club by paying a monthly membership fee. This entitles you to take advantage of the available facilities and participate in events, which include weekly boot camps, cinema screenings, educational workshops and rooftop yoga. A digital board in the lobby displays the events for the week.
We toured the building to become more acquainted with its offerings.
The plush and cosy private cinema elicited many oohs and aahs from our group.
The meditation garden is an intimate urban oasis with natural lighting within the building.
The rooftop lounge is a great place to enjoy a drink, along with views of Sandton and Johannesburg’s man-made forest extending into the horizon, as the sun sets over Sandton. It can be hired for private events and there was a noisy party in progress there when we visited.
There is a boxing gym with spiral stairs leading up to a terrace where rooftop yoga classes are held.
The casual Soul Souvlaki café and Sesame Bistro on the ground floor lead onto a terrace. Soul Souvlaki specializes in Greek street food – we had halloumi souvlakis – while Sesame Bistro will satisfy your caffeine and light meal cravings.
A fleet of new electric Mini Coopers – a first in South Africa - are available on standby in the carpark, and can be rented by the kilometre.
By merging life, work, leisure and community aspects, buildings like Black Brick are setting trends for the future and reshaping South Africa’s urban skylines.
For more information, visit Black Brick Club.
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