MAS architects trading as studioMAS was founded by Pierre SWANEPOEL in January of the year 2000. Based in Johannesburg, the company was formed from the opportunity to deliver its first milestone project, Westcliff Estate. For SWANEPOEL, creating studioMAS offered an occasion to move from the corporate and administrative architecture he had been involved in previously, toward fulfilling his own professional aspirations. It was a chance to focus on design, from detailing to urban environments - an exploration of architecture to its full potential.
The complex and interesting challenge of designing Westcliff Estate was followed by a winning Johannesburg Development Agency competition entry for the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in Kliptown to commemorate the signing of the Freedom Charter. This was the first defining public scheme for the practice and afforded it the opportunity to explore an architecture that does not manifest itself through instant gratification, but rather to create a legacy project that will mature over time.
Following her involvement as project architect for WSSD, Precious MAKWE joined SWANEPOEL as director of studioMAS Johannesburg, in 2005. At the same time, Sean MAHONEY and SWANEPOEL established a branch of studioMAS in Cape Town, in order to expand the company’s operations and reach a national market. Following this, studioMAS has produced the award-winning Courtyards on Oxford in 2005, the landmark laboratories Biovac and NICD in 2006/7, the pivotal Transport Oriented Design framework in Sandton for the JPC in 2007 and most recently, Circa on Jellicoe. To date, most of their work is concentrated in Gauteng and the Western Cape. These landmark projects are reflective of the thinking taking place in the studio at the time and mark definitive design explorations.
studioMAS was founded on a number of principles that still inform their design processes today. Theirs is the quest to be generalists in an age where everyone is a specialist. They strive to differentiate themselves from the architectural industry through projects that focus on greater influence on the overall design product. The company is driven toward recreating the values of a family run business – where the practice is driven by a strong vision for the future and not on immediate transitory returns. Their decisions are based on the quality of the total environment in which they intervene and represent a quest toward increasingly more resource efficiency. studioMAS is about merging likeminded individuals and translating their shared values into an architectural product that is innovative, and yet offers the familiar comforts of life in contemporary South Africa.
All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.