Raymond Smith | Philosophy of a successful building
A successful building should embody a sense of its purpose, place and tectonics – the result of dialogue between the architectural practitioner and client.
architectural practitioner, heritage consultant, heritage specialists
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Crafford House 2006

Philosophy

A successful building should embody a sense of its purpose, place and tectonics. We should accept that the process whereby it is conceived and realised is complex. A work of architecture gives expression to the life for which it is intended: not only must it competently satisfy the requirements of the program, but its form should resonate with the diverse activities it contains within a specific context. Similarly, we conceive of architecture as a natural extension of its environs and recognise its responsibility to contribute enduringly to the community by considering town and streetscape character.
Our architecture seeks an emotional response from its recipients while forming an inextricable link with its physical location, social and historical context. Space takes on a much wider meaning as we become critically aware of the influence of context and the significance of the historical morphology on form-giving and vice versa through the discipline of conservation of the built environment. It is through an analytical exploration of the built environment, with its unique capacity to connect concept with matter by giving expression to the multiplicity of ideas and attitudes within a society, why we seek to understand architectural form as a manifestation of cultural activity and values. We therefore search for the most appropriate solution in the context of each particular place in time, responding meaningfully to the present, while preserving continuity with significant contributions of the past.
The architectural practitioner and the client mutually engage in a process of exploring the values and choices that will evolve into the final form of the building. An architectural program lists quantitative requirements, which could often miss qualitative issues. Through dialogue, we draw out these subtleties and address the intricate concerns of a building’s character, presence and symbolism. For every project, an appreciation of the site and region’s landscape, climate and heritage deepens and enrich our design and construction process. These observations generate the development of new spatial ideas which aim to affect a transformation of the existing condition and offer a new potential to it. Through the evolution of seemingly modest conditions, something meaningful is added to the here and now.
Western Cape towns and cities such as Betty’s Bay, Kleinmond, Somerset West and Stellenbosch in the Helderberg and Overberg areas offer many opportunities for heritage specialists. Historical buildings are now upgraded in collaboration with a heritage consultant, who ensures that the building retains its historical integrity even though it gets a modern face.
“For it is not metres, but a metre-making argument, that makes a poem – a thought so passionate and alive, that like the spirit of a plant or an animal, it has an architecture of its own, and adorns nature with a new thing.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Poet, 1844