Latest NewsArchive ECIA Commendations- 01 November 2011

Ndayi MCall

As a Juror , well aquainted with emergency hospital environments the Livingstone Hos-pital Trauma unit was a sight for sore eyes. While some detailing and spatial decisions were questioned, the sense of space achieved through the organization of the plan and much of the detailing was thought to produce a sense of space more akin to that of an airport or office building than that of a hospital. This subversion of the typical hospital qualities of space allowed for a very dignified and uplifting environment to be achieved-one which is bound to have a positive effect on its users particularly when one considers the specific context in which the building is situated.

HOUSE POWELS, Little Walmer Golf Estate
HIX Architects

The sequence of entry into this house, via the modest street façade, through the landscaped entrance courtyard and into the sunlit transparent entrance space with its views over the semi enclosed garden to the golf course beyond, sets the tone for the experience of this family home.

The clean lines and simple, but refined detailing, contribute to a ‘lightness of being'. White, bright and uncluttered spaces flow easily into each other. The house is permeable and allows an easy flow between inside and outside. Sunlight is controlled by various devices: concrete overhangs, movable timber screens and pergolas. The strong well articulated plan defines sleeping and living in two separate wings, connected by the entrance link and gently enclosing a sheltered garden.

This house is distinguished by a clarity and coherence of form and space, providing an unpretentious environment for living the South African laid- back family lifestyle.

Although the house adopts the conventional language of contemporary upmarket suburban domestic architecture, it uses this language eloquently .

HOUSE HERHOLDT, Little Walmer Golf Estate
The Urban Designers and Architects

The merging of Architect and Client in the design of one's own house allows for unlimited creative freedom and the opportunity to manifest an architect's architectural position. - Wright's Taliesen West, Ray and Charles' Eames House, Frank Gehry's Santa Monica residence are but a few. These are individualistic statements that escalate the architectural dialogue.

This house, whilst working within the paradigm of contemporary architecture, boldly engages the magnificent view over Dodds Farm with a clearly founded concept series of glass-fronted ‘boxes' which project from the dominant central pitch-roofed form and offer selected framed views.

The views are approached with anticipation, through a bright yellow street door, then a finely tuned entrance sequence courtyard defined by stainless steel screens, indigenous planting and a dramatic sculptural piece. The massive red entrance door then swings open to a flood of light and green valley views.

The structured box garden of indigenous planting progresses from the organic vegetation of the valley to meet the house and reflects the cellular structure of the house plan itself.

While thought to be very well conceived; the opportunity to push the boundaries in terms of form to space relationships through the connection of space over the different levels was, perhaps not fully taken – an exploration which would perhaps have added another dimension to this extremely well crafted and detailed house.

Ngonyama Opkhanam and Hewitt Colemann

This Library sited on the public edge of the NMMU Missionvale campus has a strong civic presence. The simple functional plan around an atrium/ventilation stack gives rise to its bold symmetrical form. Natural light floods the building creating a warm and quiet haven for study. Books are housed warehouse –style in spaces protected from the sun. Numerous measures have been taken to achieve energy efficiency, such as the positioning of the building with regard to the sun, the digital control of internal lighting levels as well as internal CO2 levels, -the central atrium acts as a ventilation stack, as well as the screening of windows on the north and west sides (even if some questions remained in this regard).

The design of a library building presents the opportunity to develop and creatively engage with many ideas about buildings and people, as well as about buildings and the environment. Where the library is designed to serve the larger community even more interesting possibilities arise. This building was thought to engage well with those possibilities but perhaps did not push this engagement as far as it might have .

Whilst some opportunities may not have been fully realized, in the design of this utilitarian and paired-down building, it does however project a certain gravitas together with an uplifting internal environment which was seen to impact very positively on the many users within its context.