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Trend Group steers the future for Uber at its new Driver Centre in Joburg

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Office interior design and refurbishment specialist Trend Group has showcased its unique combination of design-and-build and project management capabilities at the new Uber Driver Centre at 12 Charles Crescent in Kramerville, Johannesburg.

The challenging project involved stripping an existing multi-storey building with a total area of 1 600 m2 to its shell, and then prepping it for the new fitout. In order to meet the tight deadline, Trend Group made use of local suppliers. “This is in keeping with our strong belief in assisting local suppliers to achieve a standard equal to, or even surpassing, that of imported products requested by the client,” Director Mohamed Okasha comments.

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In addition to facilitating the timeframe by carrying on working into the December industry shutdown period, Trend Group also assisted its client to obtain the maximum value from its project budget. This included measures such as value engineering to finetune the required acoustic ratings, for example.

Other unique aspects included enhancing client communication by Video Conferencing (VC) and project progress reports, which limited the time that the client had to be on-site itself, thereby cutting costs and increasing project efficiency.

“All trades were in-house, while we tendered on specialist sub-contractors. These results were shared with the client to ensure it received the most cost-effective proposals. In the end, we worked together seamlessly as an integrated team,” Okasha explains.

“Our main aim with the fitout was to boost the processes and procedures through Uber, so that its drivers not only feel that they are part of the company, but that the Driver Centre is a welcoming environment that reflects the company’s vision and mission,” Okasha stresses.

The Uber Driver Centre in Kramerville is the company’s Johannesburg head office, where all potential driver-partners report for registration and induction. In addition, the space provides specific facilities and services aimed at Uber drivers.

Here Trend Group designed some novel vendor stations on the ground floor, which also provides a social space for group interaction, and to generate a sense of community among the Uber drivers.

“The best fitout is always the end result of extensive liaison with the client to ensure we have interpreted their requirements precisely, and that the look and feel we propose is in line with this overarching vision,” Trend Group Interior Designer Stacey-Lee Strydom points out.

Key to Trend Group’s success is having a single point of contact for the client in the form of a dedicated project manager, in this instance Jacques Lee. This means that Trend Group effectively takes charge of the project on a daily basis, overseeing the total site-supervision process on behalf of its client. “Our approach is that the client entrusts us with their project, which we then manage to the best of our capabilities, focusing on our optimal combination of in-house and specialist skill sets.”

An example of the Trend Group’s extensive capabilities is that this project in particular commenced from a demolition stage. Having a permanent on-site presence not only means that quality and efficiencies can be optimised, but that any contingencies can be dealt with timeously, without impacting on the overall project schedule.

The Driver Centre required not only a highly functional fitout, but also one in keeping with Uber’s corporate values. Other factors that had to be taken into account was the high footfall, which meant that all materials selected had to be hard-wearing and durable.

Trend Group’s attention to detail is evident throughout, from the use of floor materials such as vinyl and tiles to wood, glass, and even steel mesh for aesthetic enhancement. In terms of acoustics, an elegant solution was to repurpose old coffer slabs as acoustic panel elements that not only enhanced the design, but also assisted in absorbing the sound throughout the entire space.

Strydom recently visited the Driver Centre to see if the client had any remaining issues, and found a bustling and thriving building. “Everything was still fine and intact, in keeping with our main goal of having a long-lasting fitout that not only enhances the work processes of Uber, but inculcates its corporate identity with all visitors,” she notes.