Shaw Contract Group conducted interviews with all firms of Global Award winning projects from the 2015 Design Is…Award program. As part of this process, we share a portion of the response on our blog for readers to learn more about the winning projects. These are their stories.
Here, Tracy Lynch with Studio Leelynch spoke with us about the specific, South African-inspired design approach.
Describe this project in one word.
How does this project demonstrate how design can impact users in a space?
Located in Johannesburg, Nando’s Central Kitchen is comprised of converted warehouse spaces and incredibly supportive interior design – the open plan spaces initiated a collaborative working environment, and the inspired art collection serves as inspiration for the team. By combining real materials and authentic local designer pieces, we connect daily work to a sensory experience, deeply embedded in a powerful local context.
Design is a process. Explain your journey.
My design philosophy is focused on developing a deeply conscious response to the particular requirements of my clients. Powerful brand experiences which reflect the vision and values of the projects initiators are at the heart of my creative direction. The intended outcome is the realisation of a product, event, experience or interior that has the ability to inspire, to be more than the sum of it’s parts. In addition to conscious creative direction the celebration of local talent and creativity and the meaningful spend of resources is a focus of my design process. I believe the time for Africa is now, I want to celebrate this through my work and share with the world the positive creative energy that I am exposed to in South Africa every day.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow?
Collaboration is key. Harnessing the creative energy of South African designers result in a rich and layered interior story. The collaborative process of infusing spaces with pieces challenge me as a designer to become a designer curator. The process added extraordinary value to the end product and allowed the true creative spirit of South Africa into the spaces.
The much anticipated Treetop Walkway through the Arboretum in Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is now open to the public. Located 36 feet (11 meters) above the ground, the galvanised steel and timber structure offers breathtaking views from the treetops. The project, a collaboration between Mark Thomas Architects and Henry Fagan & Partners consulting engineers, has been nicknamed Boomslang – a large, highly venomous African tree snake – due to its elevated, twisting form. Check out the stunning photographs by Adam Harrower, a horticulturist at the garden.
Images: ArchDaily (© Adam Harrower)
While Shaw Contract Group was in Cape Town, South Africa, as a sponsor of the World Green Building Council Congress, they decided to do something special for the local community. Todd Jarvis and Megha Shah were on site representing Shaw Contract Group and learned about an organization called Greenpop. Greenpop promotes a more conscious, inclusive green movement through events, education and volunteerism.
“Greenpop paired Todd and me with a group of 6th graders at Pieter Langeveldt Primary to plant trees near their school,” said Megha Shah, global marketing manager for Shaw Contract Group. “The school is located in Cloetesville, which is a ‘mixed race’ township about 45 minutes outside of Cape Town.”
“Todd and I had our own teams. We named ourselves the Tree Fairies and Todd’s team were the Tree Explosion. Greenpop explained all of the tools necessary to plant the trees and showed the groups the proper methods. The children were in charge of soil, placement, water and mulch,” said Megha.
She adds, “I had so much fun working with the kids. They were trying to teach me Afrikaans. They also couldn’t stop laughing at my southern accent!”
In total, Todd, Megha and the 6th graders planted 20 trees. Click here to see where trees were planted using Google Maps.
Some would argue that the Greenbuild Conference is about motivation, more than education, and we were happy to see that the inspiration was coming from different parts of the world. While it is undeniable that the discussion about sustainable development and green building design should be a global one, one of the education sessions offered this year, LEED-ND and Sustainable Urban Development in Africa, provided valuable insights and tips for architects involved in international projects.
Two real-life examples were presented to describe the challenges and opportunities to use LEED for neighborhood development in international projects: Ville Verte Mohammmed VI, an urban and environmental concept for the expansion of Ben Guérir in Morocco, and Menlyn Maine, a mixed-use development in the suburbs of Pretoria, South Africa. These projects were also a good illustration of the need for a customization of the tools (unit conversion tools and regional priority credits) in regions usually characterized by a weaker regulatory environment. The other key takeaway of the discussion was the importance of a third party to certify exemplary development projects. We loved to see the commitment of these pioneering project teams and encourage all the architects dedicated to make this world a better one!
Menlyn Maine, a 135 000m² area created for people to work, play and live within walkable distances thus creating a new city node away from the centre of Pretoria, South Africa.
Image: Menlyn Maine
Another international recognition for Shaw Contract Group who was one of the 60 finalists selected over the 600 entries to the Azure Magazine AZ Awards. For the second time, the Canadian magazine organized an annual contest celebrating innovation in design and architecture, with projects and products from all over the world (see the complete list of finalists here). During a dazzling gala organized at the Thompson Hotel in Toronto, the guests of the ceremony discovered with awe and reverence the selective list of talented designers and architects. Shaw Contract Group captured the attention of the jurors with the Cradle to Cradle product, On the Edge, a 18×36 tile carpet that invites designers to personalize styles and to explore the tiles’ way finding and space delineating functions.
Other groundbreaking projects caught our attention because of their associated values with our company: social change, environmental protection or provocative architecture. Among those was the Nike Football Training Centre in Soweto, South Africa. The space was designed by the architect firm RUFproject (Vancouver) and named the winner of the best commercial building award. The 1,300 square meter building offers a new safe environment for the young athletes, but also aims to motivate them with large windows, inspirational messages and iconic images. This project is a fantastic example of architectural excellence as recognized by Imola Bérczi, one of the AZ Awards jurors.
“Everything about this project is impressive. It has found a perfect balance between function, design and the use of local materials and resources,” says Bérczi.
Shaw Contract Group was proud to be associated with an event that already became a new benchmark for the industry. Congratulations to all the finalists and winners!
Nike Football Training Centre in Soweto, South Africa. Designed by RUFproject.