Untamed is the result of a collaborative process between a sculptor, writer and an architect. Dylan Lewis the sculptor, and originator of the project, had a strong intuitive idea about the subject Ian McCallum, the writer, discusses in his book, ‘Ecological Intelligence’. Dylan then researched architects who are environmentally conscious and who have collaborated with artists before, and approached Enrico Daffonchio. The conceptual and briefing stages were held as workshops where the central theme of the internal psychological conflict between our rational mind and our repressed wildness was explored.
What makes this project architecturally unique is that the building was created for the pure purpose of communicating an idea or message. The narrative power of architecture is normally secondary to function, if not ignored altogether, so this was an extremely rare opportunity. The message was expressed architecturally by means of shape, materials and light.
The architectural design process began with the relationship between the site and the structure. Given that the site was the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, which is a World Heritage Site, it was important that the pavilion visually blended into the surroundings. The dominant shape of the building is therefore horizontal without any angles, in order to layer is subtly within the natural backdrop of Kirstenbosch. As it progressed, the plan of the building became informed by the ritual dance of San hunters who follow a spiral-like path in hunting ceremonies. At the centre of the spiral the 'become' the animal that they will hunt the next day. This narrative fitted seamlessly with Dylan's incorporation of skulls into his sculptures, as well as the idea of less distinct boundaries between animal and human nature. The walls and 'living wall' echo this too: the rusted steel wall elicits certain memories of industrial wastelands, while the 'living wall' introduces the idea of nature reclaiming control over the man-made.
In keeping with the overarching philosophy, the entire pavilion structure is 80% recyclable and mostly re-usable in a different location, and all its materials have been thoroughly researched to understand their broader environmental effects of the manufacturing process and use.
CIA Award for Architecture, 2011
SAIA Award for Excellence, 2012
Waterford Beerhall Competition, Stellenbosch, Western Cape
Daffonchio was invited to participate in a competition to conceptualise a new microbrewery and beerhall on an established wine farm in Stellenbosch. Located at the foot of the Suurberg and Driekop Mountains, the site is surrounded by rows of tall trees to the south and west, a lake to the north and vineyards to the east.
The brief was to showcase the workings of and processes involved in the brewing of beer on a small scale, while at the same time providing an opportunity for the visitors to enjoy the various brews produced by the microbrewery.
Through a phenomenological approach to reading the site, an expression was derived from the abstraction of the dominant elements found on the site, in an attempt to capture the atmosphere and enhance the character of the site. The unmistakable presence of the mountain, the commanding verticality of the trees and the juxtaposition of the primary elements (fire, air, water, and earth) together, create a hyperawareness of the spirit of place.
When approaching the site, the building is completely hidden behind carefully positioned grass berms. The placement of these berms create a winding entrance path that twists and turns, deliberately framing dramatic views of the water and mountains, while slowly revealing elements of the building to the visitor.
The intention was to blend the structure into its environment by manipulating the textures of the materials used and mimicking elements found on the site. The strongly angled roof plane made from off shutter concrete is supported by a careful arrangement of slanted steel columns.
Internally, the bar and microbrewery stand as objects in the space, defining the relationship between the public and the private areas.
The undulating glass membrane sets up an interesting tension as it weaves through the slanted columns, defining pockets of space inside and outside the structure. When the glass is opened up, the definition between inside and outside is blurred by the seemingly irregular placement of the columns and the continuation of both the floor and roof planes. The warm colour and rich texture of the brick floor is emphasised and contrasted by polished brass strips that are laid into the floor. The underside of the concrete roof is illuminated by a sea of delicate lights made from glass balls of various sizes, creating the impression of thousands of beer bubbles beneath the roof.
A deliberate tension has been set up between the raw and rough materials of the roof, floor and columns and the very refined elements such as the glass, lights and copper fireplaces, resulting in an enriched sensory experience for the user.
The Outpost Lodge, Kruger National Park
The Outpost Lodge is situated is situated in the remote northern-most part of the Kruger National Park. The lodge consists of twelve freestanding units, a main building with reception, dining and lounge areas, and an outdoor swimming pool.
The idea was to set the architecture subtly into the landscape, providing certain comforts and luxuries, while opening the guests to an intense and direct experience with the natural surroundings. The buildings are passive, simply serving as a framework to allow nature to come to the fore.
On arrival, visitors are confronted by a long wall, which is entered through a small opening. On entry, visitors experience is an explosion of view, with 300 kilometers of the Kruger National Park spread out beneath them. The 12 units are scattered along the long, narrow site, with a one kilometer long raised teak walkway connecting them. The decks and units are raised off the ground which leaves the ground below undisturbed, and keeps visitors at a safe distance from the wildlife below.
The individual units are like tree-house like platforms with most of the exterior walls being move-able. The exterior walls are made up of separate layers of canvas and mosquito nets which can be rolled down. The units are orientated and positioned in such a way to allow them to be completely private even with all of the screens rolled up. Cooling is achieved by an environmentally sustainable water based air-conditioning system.
The design and construction methods were specifically tailored and selected to suit the previously unskilled labour force from the local tribe. The buildings were easy to assemble with a limited material palette of locally sourced timbers, steel beams, concrete floors sealed with beeswax polish, and pre-painted corrugated steel roofs. The elements were pre-fabricated in Johannesburg and shipped into the site.
Wallpaper Magazine Best Safari Lodge, 2003
Pavilion, Cape Town / Florence / London
The idea is to create an multi-leveled experiential route within a multi-layered pod, driving the viewer to experience Dylan Lewis’ art pieces in an intimate and ethereal manner. The movement through the space suggests a singular but progressive path that allows the art pieces to be experienced in a desired order or its reverse, making time a key theme within the pavilion's spatial arrangement.
A reflection pond and raised access further enhances a unique spatial experience driven by natural connections (water, earth, sky) and our place within these connections.
The pavilion will be located in Kirstenbosch, and has been proposed for the Natural History Museum in London, and Palazzo Pitti in Florence.
The proposed resort is located in the natural landscape of Tanzania in a prime position overlooking Lake Manyara. The brief was to design a holiday resort that provides a unique and cultural experience of both relaxation and entertainment.
The design concept derives from, and is a blend of, the diverse cultures of Tanzania, that being the indigenous Masai culture, the Swahili coast, colonial influences, and finally the infinite elements of the natural environment.
The architectural language originates from the shape of a leaf, which lead to organic yet structured building forms that utilise local materials and craftsmanship. The result is a natural yet contemporary architectural design that is organic and raw, while being luxurious and sophisticated.
The programmatic spatial order of the resort is arranged such that visitors are guided through a unique experience from beginning to end. Visitors arrive at the arrival square and enter into the reception area. Leading off the reception are various entertainment, recreational, and relaxation spaces.
The entertainment space includes a bar and pool, a discotheque, a variety of restaurants, and a circus, as well as a dedicated children’s entertainment area.
The recreational space includes a wide selection of sports and outdoor activities.
The relaxation space is specifically designed to create a place of passive activity and enjoyment through the use of a luxurious spa, gym, and calm pool.
Accommodation units range from clustered arrangements to private tented camps.