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ARCHITECTURE FINALIST 2016/CHARL VAN DER WESTHUIZEN

The design intent is to integrate and connect to the existing urban context by respecting the heritage and relate it to the contemporary built fabric.

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Situated along Mechau Street, Cape Town, on the border of the traditional grid layout of Cape Town and the modern urban layout of the Central Business District, the existing context of the heritage and modern architecture creates a unique challenge to marry the traditional with the current paradigm. The design intent is to integrate and connect to the existing urban context by respecting the heritage and relate it to the contemporary built fabric.

The elongated five-story building is wrapped in a simple homogenous skin that selectively reveals the activity contained within. On entering the building, the user is gradually exposed to the complexity of the smooth concrete materiality of columns and slabs, the most basic element of architecture.

The striking clean line and sheer simplicity of the concrete creates an orchestration of masses and voids, choreographing interaction with natural light. Firm, tranquil and a bit mysterious, stripped to the bare essentials of shape and volume, there is no irrelevant ornament to distract the eyes.

Through the central open volume, educational spaces are linked with bridges across multiple levels to create rich experiences though movement, space and time. The interior is built on the natural representation of concrete being heavy and the pigmentation of the concrete expresses the function of each concrete element.

The heavy, smooth cast-in-place concrete with the light semi-transparent homogenous skin and the honesty of the materials create an interesting interaction of opposite elements and of the building to the existing surrounding environment.

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