Design is part of our lives, from product packaging to urban structures we live in and pass by in our daily errand running, but we seldom stop and  ponder on its social impact. With City of Cape Town announcing its innovative plans for affordable housing that break away from the Apartheid spatial planning, we cannot deny the failure of affordable housing in the deployment of a cookie-cutter approach, with low aesthetic and structural standards. Instead of falling in a cycle of despair, we turned to two brilliant South African Architects that have been spearheading a different approach to the ART OF BUILDING when bridging designs to their context.


Since his Studio's early days in 1984, Jo Noero from Noero Architects has designed, overseen and built more than 200 projects all over the world and received many national and international awards. His designs aim at creating sustainable built environments, that tell a story, while addressing surrounding social needs. Jo and his team believe that "God is in the architecture" and they do so by exploring the essence of architecture in each project. 

This is one of the reasons why Cobute & Geoplast were honoured  to host a thoughtful session by Joe Noero at The Architect in Cape Town earlier in 2017, on the topic "Bridging the Formal with the Informal: the future of Housing in SA". The internationally acclaimed Architect recounted many of his experiences of delivering sound structures in different social and geographical contexts - The Table House in particular was a project the Studio designed to solve the "helpless temporariness" that affects shack dwellers, which often lack the technical skills to improve their homes.

The Table House is archetypal architecture – a minimal provision of posts and beams which provides a solid base from which to start. It is the structural expression of exactly the stability which life in the informal settlements lacks.
— Noero Architects

In the course of the dynamic discussion, Noero tackled the subject matter of designing beautiful buildings  in contexts very close to (our) home in South Africa, where lack of skills is endemic and has the potential of affecting the final outcome of projects, both from an aesthetic and structural perspective. In this sense, it is important to include all parties in the process and identify Engineers, Builders and Manufacturers as relevant stakeholders, who play a role in ensuring the high-quality and sustainability of the final product. 


Tim Hewitt-Coleman is one of the Directors of NOH Architects; he also runs a very thought-provoking column called Building Freedom Today, a platform he uses to address the concepts of building and freedom, two issues that are entrenched in his successful career as an Architect. The forum address misconceptions young architects might have when it comes to delivering beautiful and functional structures.  In this episode, Tim looks at the role of Architects (young or senior) in ensuring that drawings and plans are translated into long-lasting, "permanent" structures. His concept of "getting hands dirty on site" is also reflected in ongoing conversations with relevant stakeholders in the project and all play a vital role in delivering the client's brief becomes alive not only in the architecture but in the details of the individual elements.

Architecture is more than just pretty pictures
— Tim Hewitt-Coleman, NOH Architects

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