Leading city architects are calling for more conscious city construction – for greener, more efficient and welcoming spaces.
EPA is a 33-year-old practice that has significantly contributed to the built environment in South Africa and other African countries. We apply consistent design principles to yield contextual, appropriate and climatically sustainable architecture.
We have a portfolio of successfully completed projects, many of which have challenged norms and created new benchmarks for design solutions and architectural outcomes. Some of our bigger projects include the Ocean Terminal at the Point; the Oceans project under construction in uMhlanga, and the Investec head office in uMhlanga.
Architects globally have an invaluable role to play in shaping the built environment, and where environmental challenges at all levels are ubiquitously present, architects have a responsibility to contribute at many levels. Architectural practices vary considerably in terms of serving a broad variety of sectors and societies and this diversity needs to be amplified and capitalised upon. Our priorities must be to gain greater recognition as fundamental contributors to upliftment at all levels and to foster urban reinforcement. As a profession that is largely seen as a “nice to have”, we need to change societal perceptions and be allowed to demonstrate our expertise and to use our skills as leverage to promote change in our province’s built environment.
FOR MORE INFO: George Elphick: email@example.com, www.eparch.co.za.
Sphere Design and Architecture has a clean-lined and timeless approach to architecture. Our spaces are designed to give quality of life, both functionally and aesthetically. We specialise in solving complex spatial problems with bespoke and carefully considered design.
One of our bigger projects recently has been Legacy Yard, a food hall concept at the uMhlanga Arch. The design needed to allow for multiple vendors, each with a unique offering. A huge amount of detail and thought went into this project, each area and vendor having its own style and language. We have also designed the Lighthouse Quarter refurbishment, rejuvenated a well-positioned existing shopping centre making it relevant to the uMhlanga Village precinct. The Essenwood Pavilion is a small but important project that showcases how a modern aesthetic can complement the traditional. We designed a pool pavilion next to an exquisite listed residential home, one of Durban’s finest examples of colonial architecture. The result is a modern but warm entertainment space that modernises the home and preserves its rich heritage.
Densification is becoming a major issue in our built environment and needs to be handled with care. There is a desperate need for architects to respect the environment and adjacent properties when developing land. We have witnessed too many vital green spaces being destroyed and multi-storey developments being created that suck the light and life out of neighbourhoods.
FOR MORE INFO: Gina Garrity: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.spheredesign.co.za
Melissa Truscott is the Civil Design Lead for Blue Projects in South Africa. The global multidisciplinary firm is actively investing in South Africa and growing our team because we recognise the skills of local architects, engineers and designers. Many global manufacturing companies are looking to expand into Africa and are looking for partners to assist them to deliver projects. We will be reinforcing our existing Johannesburg office and starting a new Durban team to ensure we can have the right balance of skills and experience.
Many design professionals are taking advantage of the opportunity to be based in Durban, the city they love, and deliver projects all over the world. Improving the landscape in KZN is all about partnerships, understanding and helping to unlock opportunities. There are different models for building and project delivery, which require a huge diversity of skills that cannot be done by a conventional consulting team.
We believe that Africans know Africa best. Blue Projects is a one-stop engineering and project management services provider that oversees a project through its life cycle. We have offices in 25 countries and our projects include industrial manufacturing facilities, logistics and distribution centres, residential developments, offices and retail centres.
FOR MORE INFO: Melissa Truscott: email@example.com, www.blueprojects.com.
Kevin Lloyd Architects has always been cognisant of the landscape, be it man-made or natural. One of our fundamental principles is to create a positive psychological response through the culmination of experiences, both tangible and intangible, not competing with the landscape, but through consonance.
One example was a high-end uMhlanga residence we designed in the Enigma estate. In most cases, architects and engineers concede to a simplified structure and “dress” the building to create visual interest. However, this home was designed where the structure is the visual interest. It is an intricate arrangement of structural elements resulting in simplicity, energy efficiency and automation.
Another project – a large-scale food manufacturing and distribution facility near the airport – was designed with human scale in mind rather than being a dominant eyesore. The building recycles heat, harvests, recycles and treats its own water.
Architects ought to think more about prioritising people rather than making tons of money. To feel welcome is wonderful. How many places do you visit that are truly welcoming? Human-centred architecture is the future. We can create true community and achieve an impactful and visually striking design through careful consideration without competing with the context. Harmony and balance is key in all aspects of life, not just in architecture.
We are at the cross-roads in many respects as both a profession and country/province. Our economy is in poor shape. We have just had reports from separate bodies published that describe in some detail the state of our governance. The state capture reports and the report into the July unrest are damning. While we hope the prosecutorial response to these will be swift, what do we as citizens first and architects second in these times?
We need to “hold the line”. We have unique skills and the ability to transform the environment (both socially and physically) into one that changes hate, violence, theft and corruption into one that embraces kindness, peace and prosperity for all. This calls for honest engagement amongst ourselves and our clients.
The motto of architects should be: speak truth to power. We should be the first to condemn the destruction of buildings and other built environment assets. We should demand accountability, as difficult as it is, considering how the perpetrators of destruction are such a shadowy lot. Which is why rebuilding is important. Rebuilding isn’t purely the replacement of assets but a combined cultural, ethical and societal rebuilding too.
Our buildings are designed to blend harmoniously and settle humbly into the topography of the landscape rather than oppose the shape and form of the landscape. We aim to protect the environment through eco-buildings and being socially and culturally inclusive.
One of our most significant projects by SRA Architects is Macalli in North Point Shakashead. It is a 2 800m² light industrial mini-factory and warehouse complex. The building’s form and function has been designed and engineered for growth and to adapt to various utilitarian uses over time. We pride ourselves in giving the end-user practical solutions, to design buildings that are multi-faceted and have evolutionary foresight.
We designed House Buchaya on the South Coast by juxtaposing materials based around building efficiency and open plan living. The house is close to the ocean with stunning sea views. We designed a community centre in Stanger for an international NGO, mindful that the building had to enhance the NGO’s mission of community skills transfer.
Architects have to work with cutting-edge technology to conserve the environment and enhance communities. We can improve lives through good design and sustainable practice, keeping in mind the quality of spaces and the lifespan of buildings. Architects ought to promote built environments that are beautiful, serene, eco-friendly and affordable.
FOR MORE INFO: Sidesh Rajballi: firstname.lastname@example.org, srarch.co.za.