Publication 10

One’s first impression is a building with manners that respects and supports the whole. Restraint is evident but on closer inspection one can liken it to a collection of artefacts in one exhibition carefully curated by stringent and talented urban designers.

The hand of a skilful sculptor can be seen in the treatment of the articulation of this building with its curve on the top floor, restrained palette and seamless brick ceilings that morph with the walls. The façade is articulated by voids which are carved from the mass to create vistas, breathing spaces and corridors. These also act as orientation devices and generous seating is provided in these passages.

The building is stereotomic which makes the analogy of carving from a rock even more apt. It relies on this solid stereotomic brick mass with its thick walls to control the severe Northern Cape climatic conditions.

Placing the reception on the top floor, although not the norm, made sense as the arrangement gives the people that work there (spend most time), views, break away spaces and court yards.

The architect emphasized the following notions which can sum up the entire design; supporting the whole, solid and void, a building that can breathe and keeping in mind local skills and light.

The simple but robust detailing like the handrails compliments the design in its simplicity as well as the choice of only yellow as accent colour. In terms of materiality the dark slate floors accentuate the grounding and the horizontal concrete lines formed from sandblasted planks do not distract from the stereotomic brick but rather compliments it.

The architect should be commended for adding a merit worthy contextual and crafted building to a noteworthy collection of buildings in South Africa, thereby strengthening the collection or the whole.


Citation by Pieter Mathews


Adjudication Panel: Tania van Zyl (Convener and SAIA Free State President) and architects; Malerato Modise, Sunil Poken and Pieter Mathews

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