Stretch/ Wrap/ Tilt - the Wright conversion - Elmo Swart Architects

All too rarely South African architects produce a once-off, globally acclaimed wonder. This is one of those.

'Wright conversion' by Elmo Swart Architects is an expansion project to a three-bedroom thatch cottage in Durban. Including the addition of a new bedroom, two studies, a multi-use entertainment space and an art gallery, the design features a continuous surface that wraps around the structure to form a fluid floor, wall and roof form. Situated within a grouping of dense and mature trees, the design maintains the natural materiality of the site while establishing a modern presence with its form and structure. The tilted plane which runs the length of the house utilizes thatching in contrast to the fluid steel frame that envelops the interior space. The outdoor terrace connected to the new bedroom incorporates a straw-like material that forms a permeable shelter over the outdoor shower. The art gallery is arranged in a linear fashion, serving as a tunnel that connects the entrance driveway to the valley on the other side of the site. Clad on both sides by expansive glazing, the tunnel is a transparent medium that establishes sight lines towards the surrounding landscape. a parking space large enough for two cars is generated by the partially cantilevered structure outside.
cross section
longitudinal section
floor plan

Photos and text Elmo Swart Architects and designboom

ReInvention - the Anglo American Campus Competition

The Anglo-American competition has finally been awarded to Kate Otten Architects and Mashabane Rose Associates, deserved prizes for two of Jo'burg's finest outfits. Runners up were design workshop sa with Urban Solutions and Jakupa Architects and Urban Designers in collaboration with Tsai Design Studio. SAOTA was nominated as a finalist.

The winning entries can be seen below or on the competition website.

Taken as a whole the architectural language and the scope of interventions in the winning schemes seems a little on the conservative side. We are used to seeing ground-breaking ideas, futuristic language and unbuildable forms explored in architectural competitions if not carried through to the built result. It may be that a new age of austerity is prompting a rather more cautious outlook on our built future but it should be noted that the energy and creativity invested in competition entries is a major engine in driving the profession towards more ambitious, innovative and above all inspirational solutions to the problems of our urban fabric. Towards reinvention, in fact. For a rather more exciting concept see Peerutin Architects' entry.

1st Prize - Kate Otten Architects andMashabane Rose Associates with "Urban palimpest, old, new, green"

2nd Prize design workshop sa with Urban Solutions with "Reinvention of an invalauble urban asset"

3rd Prize (as previously advised) went to Jakupa Architects and Urban Designers in collaboration with Tsai Design Studio for "Social Landscape"

And also a finalist SAOTA

ReInvention:Jakupa & Tsai Design Studio take 3rd Place

We are all still waiting excitedly for the results of "ReInvention" the Anglo American campus competition. In the meantime congratulations to Tsai Design Studio and Jakupa for their 3rd placed entry. All images from Tsai Design Studio blog

The Gautrain hits the rails

The Gautrain is a first of its kind in South Africa. The architectural solution gives clues to the state of the discipline in the country. A set of consistent design principles were defined for the 13 stations and within these the architects and designers set to fulfil the brief with a small degree of creative liberty. The results are not the most exciting spaces – this is certainly no Jubilee Line Extension – but, if somewhat “international” in style, nonetheless the stations speak quietly to the SA setting and are wonderfully polished and accomplished. The key “design” principle adhered to is the use the acacia tree as an umbrella theme to provide the form of shelter and shade whilst referring to their rural function as nodes on routes and hubs of activity and biodiversity. Throughout the stations "tree" structures – columns, structural members, escalators - represent the tree's trunk and branches and "wave" structures – entrance canopies, roofs etc -represent the umbrella of its canopy. Along the railway trusses supporting the lines are informed by the design of “Asante” stools – which are said to be the seats of the sitter’s soul. Each station is also imbued with a subtle locality-based theme - take a look at the Gautrain website for more.