Architectural Drawings: South Africa’s Rural Pavilions in Section

South African architects are drawing a new future by reinterpreting the past.

Eric Baldwin Eric Baldwin

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Great drawings translate ideas across scales. In South Africa, the country’s multicultural history has produced an architecture that spans many building types and construction methods. From pavilions to stadiums and expansive museums, these ideas extend to various drawing techniques and the wide range of scales that designers work across. Today, architects are working to reimagine traditional building techniques while creating modern, functional spaces for daily life.

South Africa’s pluralistic cultural landscape is reflected in the built environment and the ways by which it is drawn. The following pavilions and structures showcase building systems, programs and human experience through section drawings. Capturing each project’s atmosphere and spatial organization, the drawings also explore how materials were used and assembled as designers continue to reinterpret tradition. The projects are a diverse representation of pavilion design and new architecture with an eye to the future.

South African architects architecture in south africa pavilions

Silindokuhle Preschool by Collectif Saga, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

This preschool is a shelter for children’s new experiences. The design was made to offer expansive views toward its surroundings, playing with shadows and light to reveal the reality of its construction. The community project is located in Joe Slovo West, an informal area in the suburbs of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The team has been working together with local residents on the implementation of various facilities within the precinct. The multiple spaces and the community uses are seen in the preschool pavilion’s section perspective drawing, which communicates both programs and construction methods.

South African architects architecture in south africa pavilionsGuga S’Thebe Children’s Theatre by GA Tech | PBSA | RWTH, Langa, Cape Town, South Africa
Jury Winner, 2017 A+Awards, Concepts – Architecture +Learning; Jury Winner, 2017 A+Awards, Concepts – Architecture +Collaboration

The Guga S’Thebe Children’s Theater is an expansion of the existing Arts and Culture Center located in the heart of the Langa Community in Cape Town, South Africa. The rectangular building volume is rotated on the axial logic of the site, creating an almost triangular square between the new theater and the amphitheater. The position and rotation of the building volume are based on an existing path that grew informally during the apartheid era as a connection between the former barracks and the post office. Observed in section, this pathway and the building’s square was a vital space for informal exchange.

South African architects architecture in south africa pavilionsBosjes Chapel by Steyn Studio, Witzenberg District, Western Cape, South Africa
Project of the Year; 2019 A+Awards; Popular Winner, 2019 A+Awards, Cultural – Religious Buildings & Memorials

In this small pavilion and chapel space, form and massing sculpturally respond to the natural configuration of its mountain backdrop. The site’s dramatic surroundings have given the area the nickname of ‘Little Switzerland.’ As the team notes, typically, Cape Dutch Manor houses set up a dialogue with these types of environments, as found in Stellenbosch and Cape Town. The design’s inspiration is readily seen in its concise and graceful section drawings.

South African architects architecture in south africa pavilionsSpens Garden Café by Steyn Studio, Witzenberg District, Western Cape, South Africa

In this elegant design, the client wanted the garden and buildings to communicate in harmony. Drawing inspiration from the San who first inhabited the Western Cape and the early Dutch settlers, the Garden Cafe is one of two sister buildings, the other a gift shop, carefully burrowed into new expansive gardens. The section shows the architectural forms that were inspired by the San ‘Matjieshuis’ (Mat House) as well as the first dwellings of the Dutch settlers, ‘KapHuis’ (Truss House).

South African architects architecture in south africa pavilions

Community Hall by Collectif Saga, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

This community hall project was made possible by a partnership between different non-profit organizations. SAGA collective is a group of five young architects with a desire to practice and share their knowledge with people in need. This urge to create while involving communities contributes to the central objective of the project, which was to develop reproducible and straightforward processes. These adaptable systems are seen in section, and they were specified to give the community the tools and knowledge to reproduce these processes for their own development.

South African architects architecture in south africa pavilionsArmadillo Crèche by Cornell University Sustainable Design, Johannesburg, South Africa
Popular Winner, 2013 A+Awards, Student – Design/Build Project

Designed as an early childhood development (ECD) center in Johannesburg, South Africa, Armadillo Crèche creates zones of different scales for various activities as it unfurls. At the heart of the ECD, center lie communal programs: a semi-outdoor dining space and a paved play area. Standing on an elevated site, the ECD center was designed to be a beacon and pavilion for education that integrates a boundary condition with the buildings and landscape. This unfurling and change in scale are both seen in the section drawings.

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