W design architecture studio has made a big impression at this year’s Pretoria Institute for Architecture Awards, where they received four awards, three of which with extensive and innovative use of unfinished clay bricks
Johan Wentzel and Grete van As, principal architects at W design architecture studio, comments: “It is an honour to receive this level of recognition, and to be able to showcase the range of beautiful facades and aesthetics achievable using clay bricks in their natural, unfinished state.”
WALLS AND ROOFS magazine’s project showcase feature looks at some of the past year’s project highlights. It is not only featuring the best and award-winning projects, but also those where sustainability and innovation have been used to create revolutionary new design directions.
DUNKELD ROW HOUSES – the condensed suburb
The design challenges
Dunkeld West was laid out in 1904 and is part of “old” Johannesburg, and is affectionately known as one of the city’s leafy suburbs. Designing these new homes while maintaining a healthy suburb – respectful of its historical context and its future aspirations – proved a real test. The solution was to design each of the homes as one large open space – each home represents a “slice” or ROW through the new structure. It is effectively creating 22 new and individual homes, each planned around its own expansive and tree-filled garden, as opposed to one large new structure
“The design challenge was to achieve a high density while maintaining a healthy suburb – respectful of its historical context and its future aspirations” comments W design.
Giving priority to people
Taking inspiration from the above quote, the layouts and size of the courtyards were based on sun angles (winter solstice angle) to ensure controlled sunlight into each home throughout the year. It also focused on an approach that gives priority to people rather than cars – the perception of space is a priority and reinforces the success of the re-imagined, densified suburb.
The parking requirements, which are normally the driving factor in effective commercial development, were separated into three unique terrace levels under each primary building – following the natural contours of the site and minimising the need for below-ground basements.
All building elements and components were further designed and planned as single trade and unfinished – an approach that ensured the most direct and honest construction. The primary structure is reinforced, unfinished concrete with secondary masonry work applied in a series of facebrick “units” or elements – defining the ROW houses through the use of recessed “shadow-line” joints between the units.
Images courtesy of RHPX – Reinier Harmse Photographix
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