About COA

We are the people defining the future, visionaries realizing the environments of tomorrow.

Established in 2007 by three passionate architectural professionals, COA has grown consistently over the years.  Honing our skills across multiple sectors, we have a full complement of talented staff, positioned to provide deeply thought-provoking architectural design. 

Five Business teams, situated across our two studios in Cape Town and Durban, are structured to respond to client expectations, ensuring that the brief and responding design are in keeping with the vision, whilst still being ‘buildable’. Design Architects, supported by our skilled Technologists are positioned to respond to the business needs, providing assurance of a unique mix of form and function.

Our design process starts the traditional way by hand-drawing our client’s vision, progressing through to the use of innovative design software and front-line hardware systems.   Backed by robust technological systems, your vision is refined and presented in a first world capacity. COA has a robust investment philosophy; borne out of the exceptional calibre of staff we employ and the best-in-class systems in place.  Our complement of 40+ employee-to-system hubs consistently generate approximately 2 terabytes of design data per annum. 

Our ability to efficiently resource plan ensures consistent and effective delivery of our commitments. Our company size and structure is intentional.  We are able to respond, through the appropriate team and hub, with the appropriate support.  The bespoke home, as well as the more complex mixed-use/commercial client demands, is effortlessly responded to.

On an everyday basis we navigate the ‘tailored and detailed’ as well as the ‘functional and cost-sensitive’.  We have the skills, knowledge, and systems to work with cross-functional industry professionals.

Our Values are succinct:

We listen.

We care and take pride in complete accountability.

Enjoying the experience is fundamental to our joint success.

Growth through collaborative relationships.

Creativity with efficiency.

‘Architecture is our Craft’

Our Craft

As architects we need to completely understand the extent of our pursuit and take responsibility for all aspects of our craft.

From the first interaction with the client, our craft unfolds. With the undertaking of each project, all of the numerous team players influence the final outcome. We must actively control this process to ensure the final product stays true and ensure that all of the elements, down to last detail, retain the integrity of the design. This is all encompassing, from understanding and controlling the financial drivers, to leading the multitude of professional consultants and conducting the teams that build and mould the components, down to the internal furnishing, landscaping and the selection of the artwork appropriate for the spaces. This is our craft.

As with our own craft, we are inherently interested in the skills of the other craftsmen; the stone masons, the carpenters, the artists; and through the nurturing of these relationships we ensure a high level of creative workmanship with each of our projects.

In today’s world of pre-fabrication and proprietary materials and systems, we still embrace activities involving the skill of making things by hand. We are fascinated in how buildings are put together and relish the opportunity to explore diverse materials and fabrication systems that supersede the expected.


Our Team

Collectively we offer expertise across multiple industry sectors to create the best possible outcome on all types and scales of projects, anywhere in the world.

John van Wyk


As a co-founder of COA, John plays a vital role in shaping the strategic direction and growth of the firm. John believes that in order to create an authentic design, one has to listen to people’s needs. John’s strength lies in interpreting design briefs in unexpected, ground-breaking ways, taking care to always consider the functional workings of buildings as well as site context and surroundings.

Architecture must be specific to where it is and who it’s for. It is the melding of these considerations with a continual exploration of materials and space that excites John in his work. Prior to co-founding COA, he gained extensive experience in both residential and large scale commercial projects, working throughout Southern Africa and the Middle East.

Ian Gray


Co-founder of COA, Ian has more than two decades of experience collaborating with clients and project teams. He uses his broad range of design expertise with in-depth management skills to pilot the strategic direction and overall performance of COA.

As a design partner, Ian’s strength lies focusing on the bigger picture, on ideas versus projects and in translating those ideas into design visions. Enhanced by strong drawing skills, his eye for detail, composition and materials is evident in the projects the COA team takes on. His global experience includes having lived and worked as an architect in London, the Caribbean, San Francisco and the Middle East before settling in Cape Town to establish COA.

Michal Korycki


With a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Natal, Michal believes that creativity thrives in an environment of experimentation, invention, and surprise. In design, he explores the delicate balance between playfulness and sophistication.

As a co-founder of COA, Michal presents expertise in team leadership, visual communication & 3D modelling and compliments this skill set with a strong inspiration from nature and inherent attention to detail.

Nicole Richards

Studio Director

Nicole, originally from Johannesburg, moved to Durban to pursue a career in architecture, completing her master’s degree in architecture. An initial passion for art and design ensures that she remains well-grounded in the conceptual process.

She was fortunate enough, in her early years, to have the opportunity to practice and learn under icons of the South African Architecture fraternity. This has shaped the leader and architect that she is today. She has vast experience in commercial architecture and the leading of commercial practices, which makes her well suited to the Studio Director role she fulfills.

Byron Tennant

Design Director

With creativity in his blood, Byron is a 3rd generation Architect, who achieved a master’s degree from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Byron joined COA in 2013 and has been instrumental in assisting the practice in the transition into contemporary 3D BIM modelling and documenting, which is now the office standard.

As the youngest of the leaders in the organisation, Byron brings a remarkably strong sense of rational sensibility to the design process, fuelled by enthusiastic creativity to ensure that the team’s projects reach the highest level of conceptual design and execution

How We Do It

Stages & Workflow

Stage 1


Developing a Clear Project Brief

During the inception phase, we develop a clear project brief, appoint a consultant team and establish the specific site’s attributes including the physical, social and cultural context.

Stage 2


Project Concept

During the concept stage, we prepare the concept design based on the client’s brief to portray the essence of the idea, including the narrative around the key driving influencers of the design.

Stage 3

Design Development

Develop the Approved Concept

During this stage, we develop the approved concept to finalise the design. Outline specifications, cost plan, financial viability and documentation programme for the project.

Stage 4

Documentation & Procurement

Prepare, Approval & Construction Documentation

During this stage, we confirm and implement the programme for the execution of the project and Submit drawings to local authorities for approval.

Stage 5


Manage, Administer & Monitor the Contracts & Processes

During the construction phase, we administer the contracts and processes. Issue construction documentation and attend regular site, technical and progress meetings.

Stage 6

Close Out

Fulfill & Complete the Project Close Out

During the close out phase, we fulfil and complete the project close-out including the preparation of the necessary documentation to facilitate effective completion, handover and operation of the project.

How We Do It

Stages & Workflow

Our Work

Featured Projects

Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from - Youtube
Consent to display content from - Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from - Google