Crafting the Future: Step Inside Craft of Architecture with Open Studios

When the sun dips below the horizon in Cape Town, a different kind of light – the creative spark – continues to thrive in the heart of the city. This is especially true during the Open Studios event, an annual celebration where the visionary architects of tomorrow welcome you into their creative sanctum. 

Watch the video above to see the event in action, and find out more below:

A Glimpse into COA’s Creative World

COA, renowned for its innovative approach and dedication to the craft, recently opened its doors for the latest Open Studios event. This one-night affair, held on the 18th of October, wasn’t just an open house – it was an intimate invitation into the “every day” of the studio, an opportunity to witness the creative process, engage in stimulating dialogue, and foster connections that could shape future collaborations.

John Van Wyk, one of our founding directors, shares his excitement about the event: emphasising that it was more about showcasing the daily life at the studio rather than focusing on specific projects. It was a chance to reveal the creative process, the day-to-day activities, and the outcomes of their hard work. 

Michal Korycki (director) echoed these sentiments, highlighting the event’s role in demystifying the profession of architecture and providing a platform for connection and networking among professionals and enthusiasts alike. “Open Studios is a great initiative to kind of have a look behind the curtains of all the top architectural practices around Cape Town.

The event, established in 2013, has grown exponentially, reflecting Cape Town’s burgeoning status as a hive of architectural innovation. The city-wide celebration stretched from the shimmering lights of De Waterkant and the Foreshore in the north to the artistic heartbeats of Kloof Street in the south. The second night saw enthusiasts exploring the creative districts of Gardens, East City, Woodstock, and Salt River, each studio offering a unique insight into the architectural prowess Cape Town boasts.

Ian Gray, one of the COA founding directors, as well as Mobius Interior Architecture, also shared his insights, discussing the importance of showcasing the tangible aspects of architecture, from materials and textures to physical models and animated presentations. “It’s put on by the city to showcase architecture in the city and

showcase what we’re all doing. Which is just opening up the studios so everybody can see what kind of work we do and the way we do it. Which is quite interesting because you see the different cultures.”

Open Studios: An Educational Journey

The Open Studios event was more than a showcase; it was an educational journey. Visitors, whether students contemplating a career in architecture or professionals seeking inspiration, were immersed in a world of conceptual sketches, 3D models, and interactive presentations. It was a space where questions were encouraged, curiosity was rewarded, and creative boundaries were pushed.

Ian says: “So by this we’re hoping to show that there’s a culture and a vibe in the office, and we’re kind of giving more than this online work, and if you come into this space, you know. It’s a great space for creatives to work, I think”. 

COA’s Club Med Project: A Testament to Global Expertise and Cultural Respect

One of the event’s highlights at COA was the showcase of their recent Club Med project, the brand’s first footprint on African soil.

This wasn’t just any project; it was a testament to COA’s global expertise and adaptability, a confluence of cultural respect, innovative design, and environmental harmony. The project echoed the studio’s philosophy of deeply understanding client needs and realising visions through a collaborative partnership. 

What Sets COA Apart

But what makes COA stand apart in the architectural world? It’s their unwavering commitment to the creative process, a diverse team integrating skills, knowledge, and experience to breathe life into ideas. Their portfolio is a tapestry of architectural ingenuity, spanning various industry sectors worldwide. From master planning and urban design to bridges and infrastructure, each project is a story, a lasting imprint on the landscape of human experience.

A Walk Through COA’s Space

Imagine walking through COA’s space, where each corner turned led to a new discovery. Here, a discussion on sustainable materials and their role in future constructions; there, a deep dive into the complexities of urban planning in growing cities. In one room, the intricate models of private home collections reflected personalised luxury and innovation; in another, the blueprints of commercial and mixed-use spaces highlighted the multifaceted nature of communal living. “And then I think it’s going to come down to them seeing what they do and kind of falling in love with that kind of, that part of the process”, says Ian. 

The event wasn’t just about what COA has accomplished; it was a horizon-expanding experience for attendees. The young eyes that widened in awe at towering models might belong to the next generation’s leading architect. The seasoned professional, rekindling their passion through engaging discussions, might spearhead a project that redefines the city’s skyline.

A Testament to Community and Collaboration

Moreover, Open Studios was a testament to COA’s belief in community and collaboration. The event was free, removing barriers to entry and ensuring an inclusive atmosphere. The studios were grouped by location, encouraging visitors to traverse the city’s heart and engage with its creative pulse. The encouragement of alternative transport resonated with COA’s commitment to sustainability, a small but significant step toward environmental consciousness.

While the event was an open invitation to explore and foster professional connections, it was, at its core, about igniting a communal passion for architecture. John says, “We’re just trying to show off how we live everyday here. It’s not about showing off specific projects or anything, it’s literally about what we do in our day and what comes out of it.” 

It was about inspiring the next wave of architects, designers, and creatives who will carry the torch forward, shaping our living environments with empathy, sustainability, and innovation.

The Future of Architecture in Cape Town

The future of architecture in Cape Town is bright. With its vibrant creative community and commitment to sustainability, the city is poised to become a global leader in architectural innovation. Open Studios is just one example of the many ways that Cape Town is celebrating and nurturing its architectural heritage.

So, next time you’re in Cape Town, be sure to check out Open Studios and other architectural events. You might be surprised at what you learn and inspired by what you see. After all, architecture is all around us, and it plays a vital role in shaping our lives. It’s time to start paying attention!

Michael said: “So the most exciting and important thing that we take away from Open Studios is that it’s showing the youth and the young guys what an architect does, what the studio space is about and showing some of our projects that are exciting in the city and abroad and to reconnect with our colleagues in the industry.”

Imagine a Cape Town where every building is a work of art, where every space is designed to promote human well-being, and where everyone has a place to call home. This is the future of architecture that COA’s Open Studios is helping to create.