Designing Ways Editorial – COA Profile

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Celebrating 10 Years of Their Craft

With a vast portfolio of projects ranging from urban design, commercial, hospitality, retail, mixed -use and infrastructure to retirement estates, residential, educational and sports facilities, Craft of Architecture (COA) celebrates a decade of producing innovative and sustainable solutions for their clients. 


Josh Truter chats to Ian Gray, John van Wyk and Michal Korycki about their first decade together as COA. 


JT: What is the ethos of your practice?

COA: The team at Craft of Architecture is passionate about design and craftsmanship. We invest enormous care and thought into each and every project and pay meticulous attention to the client’s brief. 


JT: What would you say gives you the competitive advantage?

COA: We all share a belief in our craft. Filtering down to the last degree – from concept to final product. It is this hands-on philosophy that is evident in our work; valuing the creative process above all else places a strong emphasis on a collaborative approach. We have offices in Cape Town and Durban and currently employ over 30 architects and interior designers.


The management team has many years of experience from working all over the world, particularly in the Middle East, and our firm includes many relatively young architects who bring a fresh approach to creating the right vision for the projects. In addition, by utilizing technology and streamlining the production with BIM systems, the team has more time to focus on better solutions, thus ensuring that the practice remains a market leader. 

JT: Which projects have been the most memorable for you?

COA: There have been many but we loved working on the tropical style of architecture that we used for the villas on Vamizi Island, which is part of the Quirimbas Archipelago off the coast of Mozambique. Obviously, spending weeks at a time on an untouched tropical island that’s protected by the WWF, diving and enjoying the lifestyle (dining on locally caught seafood) under the stars made this one of our favourites.


Uhmlanga Arch is a stunning new mixed-use development due for completion in 2021. When finished, it will cover 45 000 square metres of usable area, including 163 apartments, commercial facilities, a hotel, restaurants and retail space.


It’s been exciting to work with Think3Dlab, a state-of-the-art 3D graphic visualisation company, to create virtual reality of the project using VR headsets while the actual project was still only on the drawing board. It’s one of our favourites because the project is such an immerse challenge where we have to work with the scale and massive size of the project, while trying to coordinate the tenant mix and still trying to ensure that everything works well with each other.


Then there’s the Tokai Healthcare Retirement Estate which is a world class retirement village set in Tokai, Cape Town. It consists of 120 free-standing homes with healthcare and a clubhouse.


We enjoyed the challenge as it had to be completed within a 14-month period. Internationally, the Montenegro Private Villas has been very rewarding. We won a design competition whereafter we were commissioned to design the private villas within the Porti Novi Marina. We loved the site and designing luxury high end villas, located on the lake and catering for the high-end client using the super-yacht and we thoroughly enjoyed working with the international consultant teams. 

JT: What do you have in the pipeline for the next 12 months? 

COA: Apart from the projects that we’re working on, the interior component of our business is reaching its 5th year, and we are looking forward to launching our furniture range. This range comprises a mixed blend of styles, interpreting the various environments we are working within currently around the globe. We will also be launching a furniture range exclusive to the retirement community – it has been designed to ergonomically suit the elderly. 

JT: Looking ahead, what developments do you see for your profession?

COA: We envisage the 3D print world becoming more user-friendly to designers and utilized more within the built environment. Not only will this be applicable to upmarket products like the hotel industry, where rooms can be reproduced by print and visually stacked on one another, but hopefully it will also be used to successfully create housing designs.


With 3D visualisation and BIM modelling becoming more and more sophisticated, we will see better thought out and resolved structures being built, meaning that ideas are thought of and resolved before they hit the construction stage, resulting in better builds. In Africa, as a result of the struggle with ongoing sustainability becoming crucially important, with more and more people and developers insisting their projects and homes are able to function off the grid.