Four talented architects from across the country will present their designs in the 2015/16 Corobrik-SAIA Awards of Excellence and Merit. Karlien Thomashoff, Tina Gallagher, Kate Otten and Tanzeem Razak have all been considered for an award. Their designs stand a chance to win an Award of Excellence, which represent the highest accolade that can be bestowed on a building in South Africa. The ratio of men versus woman in the architecture industry is seeing a shift. There is an increase in women practising the professions, which sits well for the future of the industry. Women bring a unique perspective to architectural design and are involved in a significant proportion of the world class designs that are being produced in South Africa. Karlien Thomashoff designed “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. 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. Professor Kotze said that the infinite care taken by Gallagher Lourens in the design of the Hermanus Community Day Centre was evident from the start, from the design of the brochure and other documents prepared for the adjudicating process to the smallest details of the completed building. Commissioned by the Western Cape Provincial Government’s Transport & Public Works Department, it replaces three existing small clinics with the aim of offering a more comprehensive range of primary health care services. Kate Otten of Kate Otten Architects in Johannesburg is one of South Africa’s most recognized architects, known for being architect of “place”. 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.” 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. “I love cities – especially Johannesburg,” says Razak. “The vibe, the energy of the people and their resourcefulness inspires me. Social injustice concerns me and I am passionate about architecture and its ability to make a tangible difference in people’s lives, to spatially transform our environment.”We wish all four woman the very best of luck in the awards.
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