karin stephen

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architecture

interiors

design

heritage

SDKS-Architects is an architectural firm based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Our goal is to create buildings and make places which meet the real needs of our clients and the building’s users and that show an understanding of the environment, be it built, natural or working. Our architecture is therefore highly context specific. The form and configuration of our buildings take clues from the opportunities and constraints provided by the site itself in relation to the programmatic and functional requirements of the client’s brief and the user’s needs.

We pride ourselves on working closely with clients budgets and deriving the most architecture from the budget. We are highly conscious of the balance required for spaces and building to work optimally : to function efficiently for the purpose designed, provide solid investment value, be aesthetically pleasing and enhance the everyday lifestyle experiences of the users.

We have a real love for both contemporary and historical/vernacular buildings. We have traveled extensively to view buildings in their context. In terms of our learning from traditional buildings we do not believe in slavishly copying or imitating, but rather in assimilating the lessons that traditional approaches to building can provide and interpreting these in a contemporary fashion that suits modern living needs.

We share our love for traditional buildings with a love for contemporary buildings. We particularly like buildings that represent an ‘architectonic’ approach. By ‘architectonic’ we mean buildings that show a high degree of textural materiality and reveal the way in which the buildings are constructed and ‘put together’ e.g. the joints and meeting points between materials, spaces and building components are celebrated rather than concealed. We believe this approach to building results in a feeling of ‘warmth’. We also see a place for the restrained poetry of ‘minimalist’ interventions for specific buildings and contexts. We like to think our buildings have ‘soul’ and that they can enrich the lives of the users. Testimony from our clients encourage us to believe that we are achieving this.

As architects we believe that there is no end to learning. To this end we approach each project afresh and are open to surprise and delight in our work. We have also been involved in teaching architecture and design, which we see as both a learning as well as a teaching experience.

We believe architects have a critical role to play in sustaining human life on this planet through environmentally conscious and energy efficient sustainable design. We prefer to use passive energy systems wherever possible. We have produced 4, 5 and 6 (the maximum possible rating) Green Star rated buildings (as per Green Building Council of South Africa). We have broad knowledge of energy efficient solutions. Stephen Dugmore is an officially recognised ‘Competent Person’ in terms of implementation of the latest National Building Regulations Energy Efficiency requirements – SANS10400 -XA and SANS 204. Both Karin and Stephen have extensive experience with Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes.

We believe that many historical environments have real value as a record of the times in which we live and its roots in, and continuity with, the past. We are therefore Heritage conscious and endeavour where possible to do justice to historical buildings, artifacts and environments whilst being mindful of contemporary requirements. We have broad experience working with historical buildings and in historical environments. Karin Strom is a Heritage Practitioner registered as an accredited member of the Association of Professional Heritage Practitioners (APHP).

We believe all Architects have a duty of care to society, particularly the poor and marginalised. We welcome all opportunities to engage in projects that endeavour to uplift communities. We believe all buildings should be mindful of their impact on the public and society.

Teamwork is essential to the success of any project. We have worked with many different people in varying roles and capacities. We have a broad network of dedicated professionals, consultants and contractors that we work with. We tailor our projects teams and our staff to suit the requirements of each project.