PRE-EXISTENCE

Origins & possibilities

We draw deeply on what’s proven to work through thousands of years of evolutionary selection of built environments. This adds the intelligence, creativity and experience of all of history to the reasoning and imagination generated in the here and now.

Context, continuity & coherence

Pre-existence is the starting point. No-matter what it is, there’s always something there before a building is built, and it’s always a key inspiration for what’s possible. Extending, building and integrating a new layer onto what’s gone before deeply enriches the functional and experiential quality of the outcome.

PLACE

THE LAND

Location, topography, vegetation, geology, climate. These basic physical conditions are a powerful impulse for architecture. Particularly in places and cultures [like ours] where the land means much more than it’s property value.

Terrain, territory, definition, containment

The infinitely open and unbounded landscape is terrain. The boundary of a piece of land describes territory. The space under a table is defined but not enclosed. A closed box is a container. Whether single storey or a tower, thinking across all these scales is a way to access a project’s true spatial potential.

Object & field

Some things happen best inside functionally, climatically or experientially contained environments – ‘rooms’. Others are optimised in more fluid, connected and open spaces. A combination of the two offers heightened functional performance and experiential richness that neither can on their own.

Systems & ecologies

Systems are potent, effective, efficient, sustainable and adaptive. Every project has the potential to be an integrated system across every scale of use, functionality, operations, organisation, movement, space, construction, form, experience, environment and energy. By integrating into the same systems within its context, projects also connect to the greater ecology, the ‘mutually beneficial relationship between different things’.

PEOPLE

Individual & collective

Enabling the full potential of the individual best happens at the same time as optimising the full potential of the collective: family, business, organisation, culture, nation and others. How to achieve this ‘best of both worlds’ possibility influences our approach to every project.

Ideas, customs & social behaviour

We understand culture as the synthesis of the full range and depth of real conditions into practices that are time-proven to work best. Respecting and drawing on this existing resource provides a head-start in the invigorating impulse to invent.

Absence & presence

Impact and influence is sometimes greatest when its origin isn’t centre-stage. Quietness is often more powerful. The lightness of being is often more potent than showboating. The absence in a void more powerful than the might of a monument.

Atmosphere

The world and our experience of it is apprehended through thoughts and feelings. As critical as a thinking approach is to building performance, for us it’s equally important to provoke deeply visceral responses to spatial environments, resonating as authentic, unmediated, life-enriching experiences.

SUBSTANCE

Making & tools

The making process is in-and-of-itself a uniquely fertile route connecting tradition to the core of the invention, innovation and newness necessary to optimise unique functional and experiential performance. Mastery of tools is essential to the conversion of new ideas into new realities. It is the origin of the beauty that comes from the total integration of process and product.

Structure & expression

As for aeroplanes, yachts, and vehicles, specific, optimised and experiential structural solutions are as integral to architecture as space, materials and light. Structural engineering and architecture are two inalienable parts of the same thing.

Raw & refined

Putting together the hand-made and the machine-made, the rough and the smooth, the natural and the synthetic, each according to what makes most sense to be produced on the site or in the factory, results in an authentic beauty that neither can contrive alone.

Resourcefulness

Our objective is to transform all consumed resources – site, materials, energy, time, space, money – into something with greater sustainably productive value than each of these elements in their independent state. If we don’t do this, we’re making waste.

Contact

94 Florida Road, Durban
4001, South Africa

T +27 (0)31 303 5191
F +27 (0)31 303 5198
E admin@designworkshop.co.za

All attempts have been made to correctly attribute imagery. Should any attributions be incorrect please let us know and we will address it.

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