Back row standing (from left): Pieter Steyn from Blunt Architects, Qefate Lerotholi from Think Design Studio, Johann le Roux from ARTÉ, Tatum Russo from Gottsmann Architects, Mutombo Kitenge from Top Centre Properties Group, Buhle Mathole from Kabu Design Architects and Nick Napier from Hood Napier Architects. Front row seated (from left): Wouter Erasmus from ARTÉ, Suzette Hammer from SBE Architects, Tshepo Khambule from Metako Projex and Lara Hood from Hood Napier Architects

ARTÉ

A leading Pretoria-based architectural firm specialising in architecture, construction and property development

ARTÉ was established with a vision of providing clients with innovative designs, creative ideas and expert skills to bring every project to fruition as the all-in-one service of choice.

What are the most important pieces of information a client can offer in their brief?
At ARTÉ we strive towards building personal relationships with our clients. We explore each client’s personal requirements and desires, building trust and a comfortable relationship with them, to form a lifetime relationship. From this comfortable understanding, we can establish a detailed brief as well as budget constraints. Seeing that each client is different, this personal approach gives us all the information we need for each client’s unique desires.

What do you feel separates good design from bad?
With any profession, any successful advice will be that you need to approach each project with the utmost passion and hard work ethic. We have a dynamic design and technical team to help carry a project through from inception to close-out. Architecture needs to reflect the desires and intentions of the end user, and through hard work and passion, we create a unique design approach to each project.

How many years have you been in the industry and how has your design philosophy changed or evolved during your career?
For more than 30 years, ARTÉ has evolved from the drawing board to being one of the market leaders in technology. Technology has made it possible to communicate a “flat” design on paper to that of a sensory experience, where you can walk through your house in 3D via virtual reality. This development has greatly improved the communication gaps, not only from the client’s experience, but from a construction team’s perspective, where it saves a lot of time through having 3D information on hand and therefore eliminates misunderstandings. Designing in 3D that is linked to a live virtual reality feed has definitely improved the evolution of how we approach a project, in all aspects, and we will continue to strive to push the limits in technology.

What do you feel are the most important design elements every home should have?
This is another element that stems from the relationship you form with the client and how their brief influences the design. With each personal connection we have to the end user, we strive towards future proofing the design, creating an adaptable approach and at the end to have the project reflect a timeless design.

As far as the budget for a home build is concerned, where and when should home owners plan on spending the most and where can they save?
It is always advisable for home owners to have a solid basis to build on, which means that the initial stages are extremely important. Appointing the correct professional team that will allow the client to make informed decisions throughout the project and efficiently communicate the design versus cost. ARTÉ can assist the client with in-house design, costing and execution of each project.

Contact: 012 667 5163, info@arte.co.za, www.arte.co.za

Wouter Erasmus, Managing Director, Johann Le Roux, Managing Director

Gottsmann Architects

An award-winning firm specialising in residential and industrial architecture.

Based in Johannesburg, Gottsmann Architects has established itself as a formidable team of architects and seeded itself in within various upmarket residential estates across the country.

What are the most important pieces of information a client can offer in their brief?
Whether it be a story from a treasured family celebration three years ago, an extensive list of pet hates or a simple picture of a favourite type of architecture – these are the nuggets of information a client can offer that ensure we design not only a house but a home.

What do you feel separates good design from bad?
Good architectural design is fundamentally about good space-making. We always aim to design buildings that, when stripped bare of all decoration, have a spatial flow that is functional, a structure that is beautiful and a relationship to their surroundings that is timeless.

How many years have you been in the industry?
Gottsmann Architects was established in 2010 and I have been a part of the firm for almost three years now. My design philosophy has evolved to understand that the success of a building lies in its relationships – a home should offer both a unique interpretation of its location and be true to the client’s vision.

What do you feel are the most important design elements every home should have?
We believe that designing and detailing are inextricable. Another important element is sustainability, achieved through a sensitive approach to north-facing building orientation, innovative glazing design and alternative energy sources. Lastly, we aim to create a connection between the home and nature, endowing the user with a sense of well-being, through open spatial flow.

As far as the budget for a home build is concerned, where and when should home owners plan on spending the most and where can they save?
We always advise our clients not to sacrifice the energy efficiency or structural design of their home. To reduce the cost of the superstructure, we work with our clients at the conceptual design stage to reduce the size of the house in terms of square meterage. In most cases it is possible to make the house slightly smaller without sacrificing its design.

Contact: 011 979 7116, info@gottsmann.co.za, www.gottsmann.co.za

Tatum Russo, Candidate Architect

Metako Projex

A Gauteng-based architectural practice and professional building construction company.

Established in 2004, Metako Projex has more than 15 years’ experience in architecture and construction.

How many years have you been in the industry?
My career in architecture spans 19 years. I have had the privilege to work on commercial, industrial, retail and residential buildings and this has widened my perspective on design.

How has your design philosophy changed or evolved during your career?
My design philosophy for residential buildings starts with capturing the client’s imagination from our first conversation and everything else flows from there. This way, every design becomes unique and each home tells its own story.

What do you feel separates good design from bad?
Good design is timeless in both form and function. It seeks to address possible future needs in order to stand the test of time.

What are the most important pieces of information a client can offer in their brief?
The construction budget is most important. This helps ensure that we achieve a realistic design to meet the client’s needs. As architects, we have a responsibility to strike a perfect balance between aesthetics, function, environment and budget.

What do you feel are the most important design elements every home should have? Communal spaces are key in a home. The design should encourage people to gather and share experiences while constantly creating memories. A house only becomes a home because of the people in it.

As far as the budget for a home build is concerned, where and when should home owners plan on spending the most and where can they save?
I would advise clients to invest in ensuring that the envelope of the home, that is the outer walls, windows, doors and roofs, is well insulated. The long-term benefits include savings on heating and cooling costs and a comfortable home year-round. Connectivity has become ubiquitous, so I would advise investing in smart technology for a home (e.g. integrating sub-systems into an artificial intelligence platform), especially since this technology has become more affordable over the years.

Contact: 011 312 5120, info@metako.co.za, www.metako.co.za

Tshepo Khambule, Director

SBE Architects

A prominent architectural firm with more than 30 years’ experience.

Specialising in modern, upmarket residential architecture that remains true to the firm’s core principles of synergy, boldness and excellence, SBE Architects has vast experience both nationally and across the continent.

What are the most important pieces of information a client can offer in their brief to you, and why?
It’s most important to inspire me to conceptualise the design while they sit with me by providing a detailed description of what they envision along with a detailed family portfolio, a description of their lifestyle and entertainment needs and who will be living in the home, i.e. toddlers or teenagers, pets and live-in help.

What do you feel separates good design from bad?
Good design involves utilising the maximum space and functionality within a metre square framework. Aesthetics and balance are everything.

How many years have you been in the industry and how has your design philosophy changed or evolved during your career?
We have been in the industry for 35 years now and adapt like chameleons. When in Rome, do as the Romans do! But in Africa, it’s a totally different adventure with an excitement that’s indescribable. We live for our clients, adapting to the wonderful, colourful nation that we are.

What do you feel are the most important design elements every home should have?
The most important is the first aesthetic impression as viewed from the street. We love to create double-volume, north-facing homes filled with natural light, spaciousness and lots of glass. Not forgetting the most inviting of entertainment areas inside and out, as well as a man cave and theatre room within budget.

As far as the budget for a home build is concerned, where and when should home owners plan on spending the most and where can they save?
SBE Architects offers the services of an in-house quantity surveyor to help work out detailed budgets for our clients.We have a tender process in place that helps clients to find the most affordable options for everything needed for their home, starting with the bricks and moving all the way to soft furnishings with the help of an in-house interior decorator and project manager. We are a one-stop shop that enables clients to spend money on the most important things, the quality luxuries. And, with us, it’s all about having fun.

Contact: 011 807 3442, reception@sbeass.co.za, www.sbearchitects.co.za

Suzette Hammer, Director

SPS Arch & Design

A Johannesburg-based architecture and design firm specialising in high-end residential buildings.

A young, ambitious and innovative design firm, SPS Arch & Design takes pride in providing a unique mix of creativity and innovative thinking that sets its work apart from the rest.

What are the most important pieces of information a client can offer in their brief?
Their lifestyle, this allows us to know what the client would like the home to say about them and how it will be used. Essentially to build the dream, even though they may not know what that actually looks like. This allows us to excite them with a proposal that far exceeds their expectations.

What do you feel separates good design from bad?
Elegant articulation – not only spaces and forms but each element of the design. Nothing should be forced in order to create overall harmony between parts of the whole, with each element having its own specific place and role adding up to a design so much more than the sum of its parts.

How many years have you been in the industry and how has your design philosophy changed or evolved during your career?
Seven years. We have been fortunate enough to earn the confidence of our clients through hard work and innovation. This has allowed us to continually push the limits further and realise more elaborate architectural expression, not only in form or structure but volume and liveability.

What do you feel are the most important design elements every home should have?
With our world-renowned climate, a relationship between indoors and outdoors, featuring light, volume and flow. Wherever possible, spaces should carry the eye outward through a blur between indoor and outdoor space, always ending in an element of interest, a view, sculpture, pool or landscape feature.

As far as the budget for a home build is concerned, where and when should home owners plan on spending the most and where can they save?
Spend on glazing and openable sections as this drastically influences light and liveability. With good architectural design, glazing can be large and efficient. This plays a crucial role in creating a good relationship between indoors and outdoors and allowing the home to live ‘outward’. If budget is tight, consider the things you would or wouldn’t be able to easily change later and leave room to improve down the line. Remember, a construction project is not completed overnight, so keep an eye out for sales throughout the project to take advantage of good deals. Many high-end suppliers may surprise you.

Contact: 011 234 1757, info@spsdesign.co.za, www.spsdesign.co.za

Jesse Strydom and Mitchell Phillips

Blunt Architects

A young, dynamic architectural practice based in Pretoria.

Blunt Architects strives to provide a service that brings buildings, people and nature
together. The firm specialises in expert architectural design and 3D visualisation.

What are the most important pieces of information a client can offer in their brief?
How they live, what they love and what fuels their passion on a daily basis. This forms the backbone of the design concept, as the end product is not just an aesthetical building with different spaces, but rather a representation of the people occupying that space.

What do you feel separates good design from bad?
A good design blends beauty with functionality, considering the uses of the buildings, the environment surrounding it and people who will inhabit it. A bad design is a house or living space that solely focuses on architectural features and in the process fails to serve in a client’s lifestyle, budget and practical needs.

How has your design philosophy evolved during your career?
As a company we have evolved over the past 15 years by pushing our design capabilities and incorporating sustainable design practices with new technological materials and features to respond to our clients’ needs.

What do you feel are the most important design elements every home should have?
A balanced design of natural flowing spaces with transparent, retractable facades that allow for the connection between people and nature with abundant views and natural light.

As far as the budget is concerned, where and when should home owners plan on spending the most and where can they save?
We advise our clients to appoint a reputable contractor with the necessary experience in similar construction methods required for their project and not to lose track by focusing on trendy, fashionable finishes that may need replacing soon.

Contact: 012 004 1219 or 072 225 4793, pieter@bluntarchitects.co.za, www.bluntarchitects.co.za

Pieter Steyn, Owner

Hood Napier Architects

An award-winning architecture practice based in Johannesburg

Hood Napier Architects has designed homes for prominent South African celebrities and creates houses for individuals as far afield as Mauritius and California.

What are the most important pieces of information a client can offer in their brief?
The site and why the client chose it, their personal motivation for building the project and how they wish to live in it, and the budget they have to fulfil their dream.

What do you feel separates good design from bad?
Authenticity and a respect for context. Architecture as a three dimensional art form must resonate with the people who experience it.

How many years have you been in the industry and how has your design philosophy evolved during your career?
We have both been in the industry for over 25 years. But we formed Hood Napier Architects in 2006. Lara’s design theory of “organic architecture”, in that a design should “grow” in response to its context, the site and the materials used to construct it, has fundamentally not changed, but keeping up with the very latest technology and materials has allowed the expression of that design to evolve over time, and has come to
incorporate sustainable and green design, embedding the needs of climate into the design from the first sketch.

What do you feel are the most important design elements every home should have?
The balance between public areas to entertain and meet as a family, opening up to the landscape, and private spaces to withdraw and be alone are important.

Contact: 082 902 4419 (Lara), 083 266 7462 (Nick), www.hoodnapierarchitects.com

Lara Hood, Principal Architect, Nick Napier, Managing Partner

Kabu Design Architects

Designing architecture contextual to the South African landscape.

As a firm, Kabu Design Architects aims not just for excellence but to transcend design theory through constant practice, growth and initiative, exploring everything from residential to commercial and social initiatives.

What are the most important pieces of information a client can offer in their brief?
To budget realistically and know what appeals to them as individuals. Things don’t have to be expensive to be appealing and that is a huge misconception that everyone has.

What do you feel separates good design from bad?
That is quite a contentious question that can be argued for days, but I believe a good design is practical, appealing and sustainable.

How many years have you been in the industry?
Kabu Design Architects has been in existence for 12 years this year. I have been in the industry for about 16 years and it’s been an exciting journey – I am still learning and evolving. The most difficult part is helping clients truly understand the role of an architect and where my responsibilities start and end.

What do you feel are the most important design elements every home should have?
I think, as an architect, everyone deserves the basics in human settlement – shelter, comfort and practicality. The rest are just accessories, and, with flair, the basics can be presented in an excellent way.

As far as the budget for a home build is concerned, where and when should home owners plan on spending the most and where can they save?
Know yourself and your needs first as a client and plan for future changes in your home. I always take pride in aiming to design for timeless architecture rather than being stylistic.

Contact: 010 007 5912, info@kabuarch.co.za, www.kabuarch.co.za

Buhle Mathole, Company Director

Sphere Design and Architecture

Design excellence from concept to completion.

Sphere Design and Architecture. We provide architectural and specialist interior design services to the residential, commercial and retail sectors.

What are the most important pieces of information a client can offer in their brief?
We have found that the most valuable briefing information is related to lifestyle and taste. A client who has done their research is easier to work with than a blank canvas.

What do you feel separates good design from bad?
The ultimate goal is to be true to the materials and create spaces that give maximum comfort to the end user. The correct use of light, space and proportion are critical.

How has your design philosophy evolved during your career?
I’ve been in the industry for 24 years and the largest design shift, for me personally, has been to become more environmentally responsible.

What do you feel are the most important design elements every home should have?
An entertainment area that maximises our amazing climate is key. From there, kitchens and bathrooms are the other areas that have to be designed with utmost care as these are the most expensive to change over time.

As far as the budget for a home build is concerned, where and when should home owners plan on spending the most and where can they save?
Our philosophy is to never compromise on design. Choosing a site that is flat, north-facing and has great views will cost a lot less to build on. Design makes all the difference – a great designer does not rely on gold taps for a space to be memorable.

Contact: 031 312 5133, office@spheredesign.co.za, www.spheredesign.co.za

Rupert Spence, Company Founder and Member

Think Design Studio

A creative design studio that aspires to create what will inspire.

Think Design Studio features a team of experienced creatives whose skill sets set them apart from the rest, embodying great knowledge in architecture, design, graphics and urban planning.

What are the most important pieces of information a client can offer in their brief?
The more the merrier; the scope, objectives and goals of the project, budget and schedule, preferred style and any “dislikes” to be aware of beforehand.

How many years have you been in the industry?
I have been exposed to the industry for about 14 years. School and the various firms I have worked for have contributed immense and valuable tools into what I call my “adaptive design philosophy” – I always try to adapt to new trends, while keeping to the valuable principles encrypted in the history of architecture.

What do you feel are the most important design elements every home should have?
A home must always feel like a place where the mind feels at harmony with nature, and this can be achieved by clever design. For me, an ideal home should consider these among many other elements: light, thermal comfort, foliage, views, functionality, airiness, detail and sustainable (and green) design solutions.

As far as the budget for a home build is concerned, where and when should home owners plan on spending the mostand where can they save?
Generally speaking, one would say internal finishes are the costliest parts of a home build. But a well-designed and detailed exterior can be as pricey. The idea of separating the two for me falls apart. In saying that, savings can also be achieved in both.

Contact: 062 342 8913, create@thinkdesignstudio.co.za, www.thinkdesignstudio.co.za

Qefate “Que” Lerotholi, Founder and Creative Designer


Top Centre Properties Group

An architectural and construction company that featured recently on Top Billing for its work.

Top Centre Properties Group is an architectural design and construction services company that offers turnkey residential projects, all the way from conceptualisation through to design and build.

What are the most important pieces of information a client can offer in their brief?
Their personal needs and dreams of what they perceive as their dream home. This could be an
architectural style or the way they wish to use and experience the space we are about to design.

How many years have you been in the industry?
I have been in the industry for 13 years. And I think the biggest change in my design philosophy has been the fact that I am more conscious of the needs of my client to produce what they have in mind and better than their expectations. What do you feel are the most important design elements every home should have? I have a dream that modern homes need to be smart. Just as we have smart TVs and cars, homes need to be as smart. These should be complemented by beautiful spaces that flow into each other and yet are private.

As far as the budget for a home build is concerned, where and when should home owners plan on spending the most and where can they save?
Home owners should definitely try to save as much as possible on the structure. Yes, it is achievable with clever design. This in turn will give a home owner spending power on the visible elements of the home such as bathrooms, kitchen and entertainment areas.

087 802 7863, info@tcpg.co.za, www.tcpg.co.za

Mutombo Kitenge, Owner and Architect