Outstanding work recognised at 2015 Makana Brick ECIA Architectural Awards

OCTOBER 26, 2015

Some of the Eastern Cape’s leading architects were recently recognised and celebrated for their excellent work in the local built environment at a prestigious ceremony organised by the Eastern Cape Institute of Architects (ECIA) in the Bay on 14 October.

A total of eight merit awards were presented at the ceremony that was sponsored by Makana Brick (the lead sponsor) and Plascon as well as Corobirck and Hansgrohe. Two ECIA members also received Special Awards for their contributions in growing the local sector.

“This event is a highlight in our calendar and we come together to celebrate and acknowledge the good work of architects practicing within our region,” Neill Kievit, President - Eastern Cape Region of the South Africa Institute of Architects, told delegates, who gathered for the awards ceremony.

“The notion of Excellence in the Built Environment is a principle that underpins much of the work that we do at the Institute, and tonight, we recognise excellence.”

Kievit said a total of 20 submissions, from a diverse scope and typology, were received for the 2015 awards.

“I have accurately established that the aggregated construction Rand value of these buildings is in excess of R700 million (ex VAT).

“Admittedly, many of these are slow burn with long lead-in projects. Nevertheless, this is a significant investment into our region. I don’t want to hear any more complaints that our depressed local economy is making us depressed and lamenting about a lack of opportunity to flex our architectural muscle,” he said.

“I hope that the 2017 round of projects is equally bountiful.”

The ceremony was fittingly held at the revamped Valley Market Space at corner Alabaster Street & Lower Valley Road, Baakens Valley, Port Elizabeth.

“We selected this venue by design in that it makes a statement of our belief in inner city renewal – where once dusty manufacturing gives rise to gentrification, old school coolness and vibrant life,” Kievit explained.

“We salute the work of the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) in this regard. I trust the 2017 awards dinner will be held in the revitalised Tramways Building.”

He said that the work of the architect is not exclusively focussed on building new structures   but also on ensuring the old is revitalised.

“We need to conserve our built heritage to retain the memory of what came before, just in case we got lost along the way,” Kievit described.

“I need to caution that we do not misplace our humanity in our quest for stardom and status.”

2015 ECIA Regional Award Winners
(see the full gallery of winners and the submissions HERE)

That evening, Adendorff Architects and Interiors, which is based in Port Elizabeth, received the first award for outstanding work on the construction of a new building and sports field at the VW People Pavilion in Uitenhage.

“We view the award as a recognition of our contribution to architectural discourse in the Eastern Cape,” Dr.Gillian Adendorff, from Adendorff Architects & Interiors cc, told RNews after the event.

“With every project, whether big or small, we try to challenge ourselves and our clients’ preconceived notions of what good architecture is, and contribute in a positive manner to the making of space.

“The architect’s challenge lies in resolving the expectation of the client, the conditions of the site, limited budget and time constraints, and guiding the process smoothly to result in a response that is not only functional, but also unique and special to the end-user. The award is a way of saying that all these constraints have been interpreted as opportunities which have fallen into place, and have led to something that everyone can be proud of, not only the professional team who worked tirelessly, but also everyone that uses the building every day.”

About the project, Dr Adendorff said the brief called for a building that could provide for a combination of indoor and outdoor sports, with retractable equipment, so that different sporting codes could be accommodated within a single space, and also with minimal effort to change codes daily. Various other activities also had to be accommodated, such as corporate events, and a bio-kinetic treatment centre and gym.

“We needed to create a building which could accommodate all these activities with flexibility and ease-of-use, but which also connected the various spaces and encouraged participation. Therefore, we came up with two buildings – one a shed-like structure, which would serve as the indoor sports centre, and the second by contract is a light, open pavilion with walls of glass to allow views of the expanse of sports fields and surrounds,” she said.

“The interstitial spaces in between are what connects the two buildings to become one, and also what encourages chance encounters and participation.

“The project’s success is defined by the use and flexibility of the spaces in both the sports hall and pavilion building. The hall functions for all VWSA’s corporate events, main VW presentations and VW staff private functions.”

Breakaway areas are converted and used for various clubs and mini additional conference areas to compliment the working plant nearby. The proximity of the site to the main plant has ensured that accessibility for staff both during and after working hours is very convenient. The biokinetic treatment centre in the gym area with state-of-the-art equipment has enhanced the life of the employees working at VWSA.

DHK Architects, also based in Port Elizabeth, received the second award in recognition for their exemplary work on the Drostdy Hotel in Graaff-Reinet.

“We’re delighted that the Drostdy Hotel has been recognised by the Institute. It was a significant project in terms of its rich heritage and required sensitive restoration alongside contemporary architectural design to create a seamless 5 star luxury hotel experience,” said Renske Haller, Managing Director of DHK Architects, who led the project from the company’s Cape Town office.

Port Elizabeth-based Jason Erlank Architects received the third award for distinguished work at House Scribante at the Little Walmer Golf Club in Walmer, Port Elizabeth.

“This is the first Regional Award we have received so it is very special and completes a project that was started 4 years ago. There is so much that goes into these buildings that you end up looking past their merits. It's therefore great to be reminded by your peers that there is something special that has been created!” said Erlank.

He said the project was about a large family home on an extremely tight plot with an odd shape led to some creative space making. Shelter, views over the adjacent Baakens River Valley and an interesting client resulted in an interesting design solution.

Describing how they came up with the winning concept, he said; “Designed a home on the same plot for a previous owner that never got built. Learnt a lot through that and realized that shelter in this exposed area was everything- so went back to the drawing board and worked through things like orientation, site response, materiality, client brief etc. After initial sketch layouts we built cardboard models then onto computer modeling to solve finer details.”

The fourth recognition of the evening went to The Workplace Architects, based in PE, who worked with Gapp Architects (based in Cape Town and Johannesburg), for excellence on the new Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Business School, situated at the university’s Second Avenue Campus in Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth.

The Workplace Architects also received an award for work on the celebrated Environmental Upgrades of the Donkin Reserve, in Central, Port Elizabeth.   

Professor Albrecht Herholdt, Editor at Port Elizabeth-based firm, The Matrix cc, also walked away with two awards for two books titled Coastal Contemporary Architecture of Nelson Mandela Bay 2000 to 2013 and Architectural Conservation in South Africa since 1994.

Coastal Contemporary Architecture of Nelson Mandela Bay: 2000 -2013 celebrates the architecture of Port Elizabeth and its metro completed between 2000 and 2013,” described Prof Herholdt.

“Fifty-five meritorious buildings are presented in five categories: Public and Institutional Buildings; Commercial and Industrial buildings; Residential buildings; Conservation Projects and Urban Design Projects.

“Following five introductory essays, each project is illustrated by images, a short description and map with GPS co-ordinates, and a list of the professional team including the QS, Engineers, Artists, Landscapers, Contractors, Photographers and clients.”

He said that Architectural Conservation in South Africa since 1994: 100+ projects celebrates the heritage projects completed by architects in South Africa since 1994.

“The book is prefaced by a former UNESCO Assistant Director General for Culture, who elucidates on the international context. An overview by the author gives an insight into the history of conservation worldwide, global conservation legislation and the charters associated with it. The history of South African conservation legislation is discussed; especially the changes since 1994,” he said.

“The success and failure of the current Act are highlighted. The introduction also explains the ordering of the book and comments on specialisation in conservation, or the lack thereof, in South Africa. Different forms of conservation are also described, elaborated with comments on projects covered in the book.

Included are historicist restorations, reconstructions, contemporary insertions and extensions, transformations, conversions and rehabilitations and urban conservation.

“Also included are conservation surveys, heritage impact assessments and competitions associated with conservation. In the choice of projects memorialisation played an important role. An evaluation of the work of conservation architects in South Africa in a global context underlines their achievement despite the work being largely ignored in international publications on the subject.”

About the awards, Prof Herholdt said; “Peer recognition is always appreciated. I hope it helps with book sales!”

The last award of the evening recognised Thembela Architects – also based in Port Elizabeth, for excellence on the new Education building at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

“It confirms our commitment to quality design and construction and maintains a continuity of high standards shown over the last four years of six awards, including two National Awards of Merit. We are very pleased and honoured to receive an award again this year,” said Andrew Thomson at the company.

About the project, she said that it posed unique challenges in the context of the heritage precinct of the St Peter's Campus section of Rhodes University, plus a restricted site with numerous levels that needed to be resolved.

“The new Education building includes an auditorium, classrooms, computer lab plus offices, opening onto generous verandahs and balconies that serve as an extension of the teaching space. These all group around to form a courtyard with the adjacent existing buildings,” described Thomson.

“The Courtyard is used as an external teaching space, break out and functions space. Linkages are created with the old buildings, bridging across at upper level and connecting through at courtyard level to an upgraded courtyard and balcony addition on the far side of the old building.

“The award citation speaks of ‘An appropriate and finely crafted response in the challenging context of the St Peter's Heritage precinct. The major articulation of the ground plane by the design team to form a cohesive integration between the traditional and the contemporary is what sets this project apart.’"

The eight Regional Winners will now represent the Eastern Cape for the South African Institute of Architects national awards scheduled for next year.

Special Award Winners

“The awards are discretionary – there are no special rules. We presented an award to John Rushmere (from John Rushmere Architects in Port Elizabeth). He is well-known, highly respected; he is a mentor and a spiritual father to all architects in the City and has won almost every imaginable local and national architectural award – even receiving one of a few Gold Medal Awards given by the South Africa Institute of Architect over the past half century,” described Kievit.

“While we can never beat the Gold Award, we wanted to give something, in recognition of An Extraordinary Life in Architecture. Bryan Wintermeyer also gave a very emotional tribute to John for his contributions to the industry over the past 40 or 50 years.”

The other Special Award was given to a company called R&R Aesthetics.

“They do specialist stainless steel design and manufacturing and we recognised their contribution to the built environment. The built environment is not just the work of architects; you have other allied industries that we collaborate with and are part of the project,” said Kievit.

“So we recognised that company for delivering exceptional quality, craft and design.” 

Image: Neill Kievit, President - Eastern Cape Region of the South Africa Institute of Architects (ECIA), addresses delegates, who gathered for the 2015 ECIA Regional Awards ceremony in Port Elizabeth in October.