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101 Dorp Gallery and Studio
Stellenbosch, Western Cape

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SLEE and CO: Architect

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Date:2010?
Type:Art Gallery
Status:Extant
Street:Dorp Street
Str no:101


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33°56'21.19" S 18°51'30.06" E Alt: 110m
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Award for Architecture Citation

The Architect has succeeded in combining two passions: the practice of architecture, and art.

Public and private are visually and vertically separated in this modest, narrow insert of a building within the historical Dorp Street-scape in Stellenbosch. The historical footprint is left intact whilst a compact galley type office is added on a new mezzanine level. The luxuries of generous architectural office space are surrendered in favour of facilitating public viewing of art: everyday meetings, coffee-making, and breathers in an olive courtyard at the rear, become a part of current exhibitions or events. The front stoep is hostto both exhibition openings and everyday interaction at street level.

A minimalist palette, often raw unpainted textures and simplified detailing forms a backdrop for the art on display, but also reflects the architectural philosophy of the architectural practice. Clever use of LED lighting in the gallery and the Ingo Maurer light fitting in the double volume individualize and enhance the specific event. References to Dorp Street features -'waenhuis' doors and gantry - are reconfigured in a modern context.

Sharing space and encouraging public access is a welcome change to the often grand and self-conscious front-of-house so often projected in architects' workplaces - in the case of 101 Dorp Street and Gallery, where 'giving back to the street' happens in a modest but generous manner, and scale and context are respected, the architects are to be congratulated.

(PrArch - The Cape Institute for Architecture. Vol 13 October 2011)

Award of Merit Citation

The 101 Dorp Gallery and Studio project regenerates an existing add-on structure to accommodate an architectural studio on the first floor and multi-purpose gallery on ground floor. This rehabilitation demonstrates a desire to conserve the historical significance of the site by assuming a modest stature on the street-scape of Dorp Street. This is evidenced by how the new double storey facade is subtly screened behind an oak tree that visually anchors the add-on building into the timeless aesthetic of the street.

The building's facade presents itself as a gateway entrance that confidently takes reference from its historic context enunciated by the balustrade and gantry. This glazed gateway maintains and promotes a strong visual dialogue between 101 Dorp Gallery and Studio and the street. It is worth noting how the stylised laser cut steel doors fittingly take reference from the waenhuis doors on Dorp Street.

This project demonstrates refinement in design and architecture; maintaining a respectful and conscious approach to the refurbishment of valuable heritage stock. The 'agile' use of colour, light, materials and volumes, conceives a space that is flexible both in its function and experience. A lightwell illuminates from first to ground floor in a highly effective manner embedded in the fabric that is Dorp Street.

This play of contemporary design within a strong historic setting is a subtle, but poignant demonstration of fusional space making. As one moves through the space, one is subliminally introduced to contemporary architecture and space that culminates in a spectacular outdoor area that has magnificent views to the scenic mountains on the horizon, while affording an appreciation of the prevalent historic architectural layering found in Dorp Street. The cost and functionally efficient use of space to house the studio is mesmerising when considering the arms-length width, tapering, and wedge-like spatial constraints of the available area; primarily since visitors are made unaware of the congestion within which the architecture finds itself.

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

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