Four talented women are among architects from across the country to enter their designs in the 2015/16 Corobrik-SAIA Awards of Excellence and Merit which will be presented at a gala dinner at Shine Studios in Braamfontein on 2nd September.

Four women in architectural awards

From left to right: Karlien Thomashoff, Tina Gallagher, Kate Otten and Tanzeem Razak.

Karlien Thomashoff of Thomashoff and Partners has entered the “Last Glass House” in Johannesburg, Gallagher Lourens Architects have put forward the Hermanus Community Day Centre in which Tina Gallagher played a major role, Kate Otten of Kate Otten Architects has submitted the Wits Rural Facility, and a Johannesburg home dubbed House Nicholas was entered by Noero Architects in association with Tanzeem Razak of Lemon Pebble Architects.

A record 66 entries were received for these prestigious awards which have been bestowed every two years by Corobrik and the South African Institute for Architects (SAIA) for the past 26 years.

The four women, along with the other competitors, stand to win Awards of Excellence, which represent the highest accolade that can be bestowed on a building in South Africa, Awards of Merit conferred for a significant architectural achievement or special commendations for notable design.

The awards operate on a two-year system in which SAIA members from all of the institute’s regions are eligible to enter their best architectural work. Regional awards are presented in the first year of the cycle and national awards in the second year.

He went on to say that it was heartening to see the growing impact that women were making in the architectural profession.

“A mere 21.54% of our members are women, of which 19.46% are professional architects bearing the acronym PR Arch,” he said. “Encouragingly we are seeing increasing numbers of women in our Candidate Architect in Training category, currently 42 %, which bodes well for the future.”

“There is no doubt that women bring a unique perspective to architectural design and that they are involved in a significant proportion of the world class designs that are being produced in South Africa. We value their mounting contribution to the industry.”

Karlien Thomashoff of Thomashoff + partner Architects, was appointed to design “The Last Glass House”, situated on the rocky outcrop of Westcliff Ridge in Parktown, for a client who is a photographer and qualified architect, although not practising.

Professor Paul Kotze of Wits University, wrote that the house was light, transparent, nearly ephemeral and constructed mostly by means of dry construction which was homage to the mining and industrial vernacular of Johannesburg.

“Thomashoff + partner Architects have been very innovative and consistent in their foray into this manner of making architecture,” he said. “When the architects and their client entered into this tradition of making domestic space, they have entered a realm of many world famous and epoch defining architectural examples. The collective feeling is that they have made a worthy contribution, both locally and (possibly) internationally, to this tradition.”

Tina Gallagher was significantly involved in the design of the R37 million Hermanus Community Day Centre in Zwelihle, Hermanus by Gallagher Lourens Architects in Cape Town, which was completed in 2014.

Gallagher has acquired 20 years of practice experience as a director or senior architect since completing her architectural degree at the University of Cape Town in 1994. Fluent in English, Afrikaans and German, she has travelled extensively in Europe and worked at leading practices in London and Stuttgart. She has been involved in the design of schools, shopping centres and stadia, as well as civic, commercial and residential projects. One of the key projects she has worked on is the R105 million Transnet ME Building Rehabilitation and Precinct Plan which began in 2012 and is ongoing.

Kate Otten of Kate Otten Architects in Johannesburg is one of South Africa’s most recognized architects, known for being architect of “place”. Her buildings are born out of the South African context, weaving together materials, skills, politics, light, and landscape to create places that feed and nurture the human spirit.

Otten believes that buildings have an emotional presence. “Fulfilling the emotional and spiritual needs of the users is as important as creating a functional space,” she said.

Her design of the University of the Witwatersrand Rural Campus in Bushbuckridge, Limpopo ensures that the built forms are generously connected to nature, at the same time avoiding all established architectural clichés of ‘bush architecture’.

Prof Kotze said that the new buildings had a beautiful and inspired simplicity about them. “The structure and building forms are confined to a few elements constantly repeated in surprising and thoughtful ways. This language manages to create, in a subtle manner, orientation and a memorable place without ever feeling the need to ‘hit the drum’ too loudly.”

“The majority of the buildings is only one room deep to enable natural ventilation. These buildings, in turn are connected by wide walkways that create shade as well as space for social interaction. There is something lyrical about these walkways in the way that they connect built elements and how they avoid and celebrate natural elements like trees.”

Tanzeem Razak, director and founding partner of Lemon Pebble Architects in Johannesburg, is a passionate advocate for spatial transformation in South African cities and her focus is on design in areas of limited resources.

Her love of cities, and Johannesburg in particular, is evident in her design of House Nicolas in Richmond in association with Noero Architects.

According to Professor Kotze, the house distinguishes itself in that it is beautifully detailed and equally carefully built. The upper level, built on top of the existing four-roomed mine worker’s house, retains the original footprint and has been designed with great sympathy to the older section.

“The second storey capitalises on the magnificent view over Braamfontein and Hillbrow – theatre at its best. The upper floor – the piano nobele – is all about a more public life on a grander scale. This is a space to show an extensive collection of Coca Cola memorabilia, to share social interaction with friends, to look at a framed view and to be seen from afar. The intimate and more private part of the house is hidden behind the perimeter walling.”

Razak completed her BArch degree at the University of Witwatersrand in 2004 and graduated with an MArch (Cum Laude) in Human Settlements from the Katholieke Universiteit in Belgium. Working mainly in architectural practice, she feeds her work by remaining involved in academia, being involved in both teaching and examining at the universities of Witwatersrand, Cape Town and Johannesburg.



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