With a more varied cross-section of projects than in previous years, the standard at this year’s Corobrik South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) Awards was impressively high. These awards are only announced every second year to architects who make a significant contribution in the field of architecture.
Recognising the top architectural projects of recent times, the 2018 award winners were honoured at the awards evening on 4 May.

“When travelling to the sites of all the short-listed entries, we have seen that sustainability and care for the environment have been prominent with architects emphasising the nurturing of the environment,” notes Maryke Cronje, president of SAIA and convenor of the awards programme.

“There is a great use of natural and sustainable materials as well as consideration for the landscape. While some materials used are imported, local tradespeople were used so that when a project was complete the tradesmen walked off the site with a set of skills that could be applied elsewhere. This is good for our country,” she stated.

Altogether 61 regional winners were entered into the National Awards, with five receiving commendations, 24 were presented with awards of merit and six were honoured with awards for excellence, the highest distinction that SAIA can confer on a project in South Africa.

The judging panel, convened by Cronje, comprised Professor Paul Kotze, academic, Musa Shangase, sponsor representative, Sumien Brink, eminent layperson, and Luyanda Mpahlwa, eminent architect.

“The adjudicators acknowledge that despite the current economic state of our industry in South Africa, architecture of a high standard continues to be achieved in our country. In looking forward, the adjudicators trust that more projects of a social and developmental nature will be submitted in the future,” says Cronje.

© Adam Letch

Award for excellence:
A new residence at 151 Main Road, Constantia, Cape Town.
Malan Vorster Architecture Interior Design, Cape Town
Citation extract: “There is a longstanding tradition in the architectural profession that, when architects and their clients work in the context of the purity and beauty of nature, they strive to attain an equal level of perfection. This ‘treehouse’ by Malan Vorster Architects is not indulgent, but highly restrained. The architects have taken their cues from some of the master architects who have, throughout time and space, created some of the most iconic and respected structures of this genre.

“This project was painstakingly created over a relatively long time on the site itself. Its structure and materials are experienced as fragile and temporary, while its relationship to place and its immediate context could be perceived as its only sense of permanence. Thus, Treehouse Paarman makes a critically important contribution to the local and international architectural traditions and precedent.”


Award for excellence:
The Delville Wood Memorial
The Creative Axis Architects, Johannesburg
Mayat Hart Architects, Johannesburg
Citation extract: “To evoke the memory of an event by means of architecture is difficult. Architects and their clients have been confronted with this problem through the ages, and recently, the epic Delville Wood battle of the First World War (WW1) was memorialised. This building commemorates the South Africans who lost their lives in the First World War, particularly members of the South African Native Labour Corps, who had received no official recognition. Although this project’s architects are young, they were able to deliver a commentary on how history, power and memory were previously expressed.”

© Hannes Uys

Award for excellence:
Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre
Lewis Levin Architects, Johannesburg
Citation extract: “The world is sadly constantly confronted with the most barbaric acts of human violence and oppression. The reaction always seems to be the same when the collective voice goes up with the words: ‘Never again! Never again!’. Yet mankind never seems to learn. The architect was encouraged to design a building to heighten awareness of this reality – a daunting task.

“Visitors’ experience of the building is direct and uncomplicated. Unlike so many of the other Holocaust memorials, the architect here does not ‘force’ the message or a particular emotional response onto the viewer. The building, its exhibits and the placing in its physical context do not impose itself on anybody. It is simply there, and it tells its story to those who are inquisitive enough to want to hear it.”


Award for excellence
Sasol Place
Paragon Architects, Johannesburg
Citation extract: “To understand something of the nature and magnitude of a building like Sasol Place, it is important to look briefly at the history of the company as well as the historical development of the urban context where the building has been placed. Before this building was constructed, the company operated from 14 different buildings, situated mainly in Rosebank in Johannesburg. Furthermore, the building needed to be energy efficient, be able to accommodate about 7 500 staff and, above all, to create a physical symbol for the home of Sasol as a company.

“In the Sasol Place building there is a thoughtful and careful expression of form and function in a relatively uncontrolled urban context that portrays a deep and sensible knowledge and professionalism. It might just be that the multi-national conglomerate, Sasol, has finally found itself a home from where it could now approach the future. If anything expresses South African intellectual and corporate ingenuity on the world stage, it might also just be this building as the new symbol for Sasol.”


Award for excellence:
The Lake House
Richard Stretton, Koop Design, KwaZulu-Natal
Citation extract: “Buildings like The Lake House require dedication and attention to detail. This building is set in the idyllic and undulating hills of the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, next to a small lake. The plan and section of the building are generous, and deceptively simple and direct. The hands of the various levels of craftspeople who made the building are clearly visible and so is the pride in their handiwork. The Lake House is masterful in its relaxed simplicity – a simplicity that only the highly talented and dedicated can achieve.”

Award for excellence
NZASM Footsteps along the tracks
Nicholas J Clark & Roger Fischer assisted by Siphiwe Simelane, University of Pretoria
Citation extract: “This research deals with, essentially, the rail infrastructure built by the Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaanse Spoorweg-Maatschappij in the former Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek over a period of 13 years. This work was undertaken with material support from the Dutch government, and by staff and students from the Department of Architecture of the University of Pretoria. It follows on from their important and respected publication called Eclectic Wilhelmiens. Collectively these two publications form an intellectual unity that has created a trusted source of knowledge that did not exist before in this form.

“What is also noteworthy regarding this excellent research project, is how much we can all learn from it in order to understand our current infrastructural position and what might come in the future.”

In this article, full thanks and acknowledgement are given to the South African Institute for Architects (SAIA) for the information and images provided.

“Awarded projects are manifestations of how architects successfully interpret their clients’ aspirations in the buildings produced.” – Bryan Wallis, acting chief executive officer of SAIA

Awards of merit
•    3-in-1 House by L & L Architects.
•    House Burnett Prinsloo by Robert de Jager Architect.
•    Floating Dune House, Sedgefield, by Slee & Company Architects (Pty) Ltd.
•    Bosjes: Chapel, Kombuis, Manor House and Die Skuur by TV3 Architects and Town Planners in collaboration with Steyn Studio.
•    Alterations and renovations to the Port Elizabeth Opera House by The Matrix…cc Urban Designers and Architects.
•    Aspen Pharmacare High Containment Suite by Thembela Architects (Pty) Ltd in association with Danie Bekker & Associates (Pty) Ltd.
•    138 Jan Smuts by C76 Architecture CC.
•    Alice Lane by Paragon Architects.
•    House Schütte by Kate Otten Architects CC.
•    Matola Raid Monument and Interpretive Centre by Impendulo Design Architects (Pty) Ltd.
•    Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital by GAPP Architects and Urban Designers (Pty) Ltd in association with Ruben Reddy Architects (Pty) Ltd, Sheppard Robson International (UK) and John Cooper Architecture.
•    Origins Centre Rock Art Gallery by Mashabane Rose + Associates CC.
•    Westbury Clinic by Ntsika Architects.
•    K-Rith Tower Building, University of KwaZulu-Natal, by FGG Architects.
•    RCL Foods Head Office by Elphick Proome Architects.
•    House CJ – unfolding the land, by W Design Architecture Studio.
•    Pathways beneath the hill: A new walkway through Wonderwerk Cave by Craig McClenaghan Architecture.
•    Sol Plaatje University, Building CX003, by Wilkinson Architects in association with Mashilo Lambrechts Architects and GXY Architects.
•    Sol Plaatje University Central Campus, Building 1, Moroka Hall of Residence, by Activate Architecture (Pty) Ltd.
•    Sol Plaatje University Central Campus, Building C002, Moroka Hall of Residence, dining hall, lecture rooms and offices by Savage & Dodd Architects cc.
•    Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool, Kunstekampus, by Mathews & Associates Architects cc.
•    House Louw – Gravity and Light, by W Design Architecture Studio.
•    House Nieuwenhuys by Earthworld Architects cc.
•    House Van Dyk by Earthworld Architects cc.
•    I•Cat Environmental Solutions by Earthworld Architects cc.

Commendations:
•    Clarens Primary School, Clarens, by Geldenhuys & Jooste Architects.
•    Community Residential Unit Development in Langa, City of Cape Town, by Architects Associated.
•    Stortemelk Hydropower by Earthworld Architects and Interiors.
•    The Campanile Restoration, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, by The Matrix…cc Urban Designers and Architects.
•    House Whitfield by DMV Architecture.

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