Admirals View is a residential development of comprising of three buildings housing a total of 8 sectional title units, situated in the quiet seaside village of Brenton on Sea, near Knysna.
The original four buildings on the site were destroyed in the Knysna Fire of 2017, and the brief was to re-design three buildings to replace these. This resulted in the very unusual circumstance of the trustees of a body corporate, for buildings that currently no longer existed, being the client for the re-build. It was unusual in that typically when designing a multi-unit residential project, the client would be a developer and the buildings’ occupants would only be involved in the later aspects of the design, for example choice of finishes or customizing interiors. In this instance the problem was that we had six different clients (two had two units each), each with their own preferences and tastes, to guide into a solution that everyone would be happy with, plus keeping a coherence to the design rather than having 6 different typologies of building.
Whereas, under normal circumstances we pride ourselves on developing a unique architecture rooted in site and context without subscribing to a stylistic convention, in this instance we came to a conclusion that a stylisticly informed design would be the best resolution to the problem of having 6 vastly different clients for one project. With this approach we had only initially to get buy in from all on a look and feel of the whole project.
Another factor to consider in the initial conceptualization was urban relationship to the surrounding properties. Although we were on Resort Zoned property, the surrounding properties were all residential in nature, so a residential scale development was deemed to be the most appropriate. After several meetings with the trustees of the body corporate and various proposal on an appropriate architecture, we settled on the typical ‘Cape Coastal’ vernacular – a residential style with roots in Victorian architecture, which has much precedent and popularity along the Garden Route coast. The clients approved the proposal and the next step was to develop a set of design guidelines within which to work, and for the trustees to agree on – to keep an architectural coherence to the project – which proved very useful during design development process, in for example keeping all windows to similar proportions when several clients were requesting all manner of shapes and sizes.
Due to the immense time pressure to get the project completed; the clients has lost their homes in the fire, insurance had taken awhile to pay out, and their insurance cover for temporary accommodation while they re-built was running out – the entire project had to be fast tracked. And to accommodate a minimum construction time on site timber frame construction was decided on from the outset as the preferred construction technology.
Timber frame as a method of construction intergrated well with Cape Coastal style, and fibre cement cladding, aluminium windows and doors, and pre-coated roofsheets were proposed to minimise maintenance.
Computer modelling & presentation, for which we used Archicad, proved extremely useful in showing clients exactly what they were getting and enabling most changes to be made while still in the early design stages. As a result there were minimal variation orders made during the construction phase. To enable fast tracking, we designed the timber walling and flooring structure using specialised timber detailing software, Archiframe. This enabled to contractor to pre-cut and pre-assemble the timber frame wall panels in a factory, needing only to be assembled on site.
Hofmeyr & Associates Consulting Engineers Knysna