If you’re looking to buy, or renovate your current property, take a look at our profiles of architecture’s most acclaimed voices.
A Johannesburg-based architectural firm specialising in innovative and functional design solutions.
What is your firm’s design philosophy? That architecture is the final answer to questions being asked by the environment, as well as the demands of the end users of a building. Buildings are functional works of art that can enhance both the visual environment and lifestyle quality of the inhabitants.
What sets your firm apart from others in the industry? As an experienced architectural firm, GMB Architects is dedicated to innovation in design that has been moulded by our extensive involvement in both residential and commercial sectors over the years.
What are some of the most desirable design elements for homes in South Africa now? There is definitely a trend towards more spacious architecture in terms of internal walls and exterior glazing. Fortunately, with the introduction of the new SANS 10400 regulations, it is being done in a climatically responsible manner.
What is your stance on the future of eco-friendly building and design in South Africa? There is currently a big emphasis on sustainability of buildings as well as an awareness of our limited resources and the demands that buildings place on them. Water storage and photovoltaic panels are becoming the norm as opposed to the exception.
What are your current design inspirations? My approach to design has always been to allow it to develop as per the requirements of the site and the client’s brief. To never try to force a design in a particular direction but rather to approach it as a puzzle that needs to be solved. Finding the best possible configuration of spaces is what creates successful architecture.
When designing, what do you like to keep in mind regarding the project as a whole? It is important to always keep the end user of the building in mind. Everyone is different and having a professional design a space around your exact requirements, as opposed to adapting to an existing space, is one of the primary benefits of building a new building. I see the role of the architect as being the conduit that manifests a client’s vision, whether they can see it or not, into a functional building that, through creativity, leaves a positive contribution to the built environment.
A Gauteng-based architectural practice and professional building construction company.
Tell us about Metako Projex. Metako Projex is an architectural practice based in Johannesburg. We hold a decent portfolio of upmarket homes at some of the best locations in South Africa.
What is your firm’s design philosophy? Our design philosophy is centred around contemporary style, with strong local accents. When looking beyond the aesthetics, our clients mostly appreciate our use of space – an elegant fusion of flow, function and orientation.
What sets your firm apart from others in the industry? We start with the end in mind, leveraging off the teams’ expertise in architecture and construction. The cross-pollination between the disciplines gives us the competitive edge.
What are some of the most desirable design elements for South African homes now? With technology having taken centre stage in almost everything in recent years, I would have to say making your home intelligent would be the smartest thing to do (no pun intended). Fully integrated home automation is a great feature and the applications are wide ranging – from preserving energy to improving safety features and responding to the needs of individual family members.
What is your stance on the future of eco-friendly and sustainable building and architecture in South Africa? Climate change is real and we have seen it in South Africa in unusual weather patterns like droughts, floods, runaway fires and snow. Sustainable buildings are imperative.
What are your current design inspirations? I am inspired by the challenge of creating something new.
When designing, what do you like to keep in mind regarding the project as a whole? I would say top of mind are design sustainability, cost, environment function and form.
A highly skilled team that provides clients with designs that boast synergy, boldness and excellence.
What is your firm’s design philosophy? Designing for people as well as creating a design that elevates and restores. It’s about design that lasts, where function meets art in a building that is both timeless and memorable. We believe design must first fulfil the functional requirements of our clients, be technically sound, innovative and always push the envelope. This should all happen within the client’s budget and suit the site it is built on.
What sets your firm apart from others in the industry? We have more than 30 years’ experience in exclusive residential architecture and, together with our partners, we form a team that delivers superior designed houses from inception to completion of the building. We also use the latest in animation videos and interior design technologies to ensure the clients’ dreams and expectations are met.
What are some of the most desirable design elements for homes in South Africa now? Our climate is changing and with electrical and water supplies not always as they should be, back-up power supply and rain- and grey-water harvesting is high on our clients’ wish lists. A central air-conditioning system and residential lifts are also very popular. Home automation and smart home technology is the future, and homes will function more and more as machines that we live in.
What is your stance on the future of eco-friendly building and design? Climate change is real and we have to design buildings using eco-friendly materials. Buildings should also be energy-efficient. Clients should, however, be advised on the best options for them and what fits their budget.
What are your current design inspirations? Firstly our clients, as we are first and foremost designing for them. The looks on their faces when they see our proposals are what will always keep us inspired. We also draw inspiration from nature in all its perfection.
When designing, what do you like to keep in mind regarding the project as a whole? That we design a house for a unique individual with their own expectations of how their dream home should look and still comply with the (sometimes too prescriptive) housing estate architectural guidelines.
A young, dynamic team offering a fresh approach to residential architecture and interiors.
What is your firm’s design philosophy? We don’t design buildings for our own prestige, but rather to provide clients with homes that reflect more desirable versions of themselves. Timeless design is not a result of style, but rather of critical thinking and good proportion.
What sets your firm apart from others in the industry? We’re grounded in a people-first principle. Staying smaller is also key to our success, as we believe a hands-on approach keeps heart and soul present in every project. The entire team is also involved in every design; this yields better results, as more brains on board means greater design thinking and implementation.
What are some of the most desirable design elements for homes in South Africa now? The house should have architectural features that are intrinsically part of the design, so that the design does not end up being a decorated shed. A connection between inside and out, and a focus on entertaining and relaxing at home, is also important.
What are your current design inspirations? Client reaction is often one of the sources of our inspiration. The broad smiles of unfeigned delight on our clients’ faces at the end of the process means that we’ve managed to create their idea of a good place to call home.
When designing, what do you like to keep in mind regarding the project as a whole? To quote Brenda Laurel, “A design isn’t finished until somebody is using it.” This means that design, especially of a home, is specific to that person within that context.
ARCA Unlimited is a multidisciplinary firm providing a variety of built environment services.
What is your firm’s design style? We choose not to be constrained by any style of design. Our work is informed through vast experience shared openly across our design teams, independent of the size of a project.
What sets your firm apart from others in the industry? As architects, designers and master-planners, we have developed specialist expertise across all development sectors. No project is too big or too small – ranging from large multi-storey mixed-use urban buildings to container-based community relief projects in rural areas.
What are your current design inspirations? We draw inspiration from various professions and fields, from art and local history to the vernacular architecture and contemporary design of the context we work in. We also believe in a strategic evidence-based design methodology, which inspires and informs our approach to design.
What are some of the most desirable design elements for homes in South Africa now? With the growing cost of utilities, there is a focus on green technology. Water harvesting and solar electricity generation and storage are the most common elements requested. Another trend is combining green design with smart home technology. Users are enjoying the consciousness of sustainable design with the convenience that technology offers.
When designing, what do you keep in mind regarding the project as a whole? That each part forms part of a greater whole. Also, that the product you produce should exceed the expectations of the client in every way possible.
A young, energetic architectural practice based in the South of Johannesburg.
What is your firm’s design philosophy? As a young practice, we take a unique and fresh approach towards design. Rather than adopting a certain style or look, we take a more methodological stance towards creating distinctive projects.
What sets your firm apart from others in the industry? We see the value in working closely with clients to understand their needs and their nuances. We believe this enables the delivery of a successful project.
What are your current design inspirations? I have always been and am still inspired by the architects of mid-century modernism.
What are some of the most desirable design elements for South African homes now? I wouldn’t call it an element as such but rather a way of living. I think the desire of living in a “light” house is becoming more popular. Light as a natural element is always important in any living space, but also the lightness of living.
What is your stance on the future of eco-friendly building and design in South Africa? An eco-friendly design is a direct link to comfort and this should be achieved in the design itself and shouldn’t be a clip-on solution. As architects, we have a responsibility to encourage, design, produce and build sustainable spaces.
When designing, what do you like to keep in mind regarding the project as a whole? I believe the most important thing (other than the client’s needs) in a project is to understand it’s context. Each project has a unique setting and thus requires a unique approach.
A design practice that values space-making as an experience.
What is your firm’s design philosophy? We try to free ourselves from specific stylistic references. We believe that the basic elements of architecture and what they’re made of are enough. The unique arrangement of these elements, informed by the context it is located in, must result in a unique, functional, poetic and memorable place.
What sets your firm apart from others in the industry? Design excellence and passion. We don’t just go to work, we draw, we sculpt, we experiment.
What are some of the most desirable design elements for South African homes now? South Africa’s temperate climate provides a wonderful opportunity for designers to engage sensitively with thresholds. Attention should be focused on the degrees of intensity these thresholds are experienced, from the abrupt and immediate to the subtle and infinite.
What is your stance on eco-friendly building and design, and the future of sustainable architecture in South Africa? To design buildings that are energy efficient is imperative. It will continue to become more attractive financially, especially with looming water and electricity tarrif increases.
When designing, what do you like to keep in mind regarding the project as a whole? Factors such as the client’s needs, functionality and a thorough understanding of the context inform the development of a specific project concept. The concept is a golden thread that gives meaning and identity to the building and, when it is integrated with context, a cohesive, holistic and memorable sense of place must remain.
Contact: 012 349 1112, 082 339 5834, www.drawboxstudio.co.za
A dynamic studio offering turnkey projects, including interiors and construction management.
What is your firm’s design philosophy? To deliver a high-quality design by taking the existing character of the places and enhancing them.
What sets your firm apart from others in the industry? A continuous love and passion for the industry. It goes without saying, the creativity and personal attention given to each client and their individual projects is our strength.
What are some of the most desirable design elements for homes in South Africa now? I would say orientation to and from the sun and protection against the elements. Heat and light saving devices have also been incorporated, furthered by the sourcing of and re-distribution of water.
What is your stance on the future of sustainable architecture in South Africa? The extent of being eco-friendly is determined by many factors: awareness, education and working towards the best possible solutions is key. There is relevance in working with the resources that one is surrounded by. Making clients aware of the values of these resources is becoming easier to motivate as the country finds itself open to green building technology.
What are your current design inspirations? I’m inspired by organic forms, raw materials and varied shapes. We like to include the shape of “life” around us into our designs. We are inspired by simple, yet quirky, designs because we like to add variety to what could be cookie-cut.
When designing, what do you like to keep in mind regarding the project as a whole? The client’s needs, the budget, the elements that will influence their lifestyle and our interpretation thereof.
A dynamic architectural firm built up over the past 30 years.
What is your firm’s design philosophy? Exceeding our clients’ expectations and we pride ourselves on being on the cutting edge of design. We always present a design we are proud of as it carries our trademark.
What sets your firm apart from others in the industry? Our designs are bespoke and sketched by hand at concept stage by registered and qualified professional architects with 20 or more years’ experience. The project architect will assist a client from the brief until final handover.
What is your stance on the future of eco-friendly building and design in South Africa? Every building in our office is designed with energy efficiency as a priority. We need to be protective of our planet and its eco-systems as well as create a superior comfort level in our living and working environments.
What are your current design inspirations? We are experiencing a revival of the international style of architecture made famous by architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe in the early 1960s. Now, with the advancement in technology and materials, we can take this striking design style to a whole new level.
When designing, what do you like to always keep in mind? We are constantly thinking about the spatial experience of the user as they move in and through the building, which ensures that we have splendid buildings both inside and out.