2016

Oaktree Studio

Mixed use development

MAAA - Oaktree Studio - Icon

The project is located in an area that has recently been densified by new town planning proclamations with all adjacent properties being rezoned.

The project consists of alterations and additions to transform an old non-descript house into a mixed-use typology. The building functions as an office as well as a place of residence. The aim of the project was to make the building adaptable and versatile for multiple future possibilities. The design needed to accommodate easy transformation in the future without much intervention to make adaptive re-use possible. 

The existing ground floor was retained, and the residential area separated from the studio. The tenant in the residential area has free access to utilize the ground floor and studio space. By separating the ‘live’ and ‘work’ spaces, the resident can have privacy but still have uninterrupted access.

The form of the studio on the first floor was treated as a typological archetypal ‘Monopoly House’ detached from and floating above the old existing house. In order to accentuate the concept of the monopoly house floating in the sky, the first floor was designed to be wider than the ground floor. By doing so the ground floor is given extra cover, allowing the large sliding doors to be left open in most weather conditions creating a generous connection to the outside.

Courtyards transform spaces whilst keeping costs low. Three courtyard spaces allow the resident and staff a necessary reprieve in order to break away from the repetitive. Simple methods were used to create these different spaces: a screen wall of concrete blocks in the front, a first-floor balcony and re-used timber palettes on the northern side. By utilizing these different methods, the results are varying, emphasizing the diversity of relaxing options. 

The staircase was treated as a separate form to bring natural light into the building and to make the arduous journey up and down memorable. Standard unshaven planks were used as treads with the rough unfinished concrete risers only painted a dark colour to recede from the white walls. The staircase surrounds an art display, allowing visual access from various perspectives.

An eastern wall had to be moved west to create a driveway, allowing vehicular access to the back of the building. All new walls were bag-plastered, creating a textured surface to differential between the original and the new. finished was used to indicate new brick walls and to show honesty of material and construction. Slits in the wall pays homage to the original structure whilst hinting at the courtyard spaces beyond.

The main focus of this design was to keep costs low, to reuse or reinvent wherever possible and to make the building ‘future proof’ for generations to come. Materials were selected to suit the aim of the design, cost, accessibility and ease of maintenance. Future accessibility and adaptability was taken into material consideration, trying to ensure homogenous future possibilities. The first-floor studio was added with no floor finishes not only to save on costs but also to contribute to the dynamic feel of the studio environment, while offering a blank slate for any future flooring alternative.

Beton brut off-shutter ceilings were used throughout the design. The slab was not finished off or patched at the corners to preserve the true beton brut process. The slab soffits were transformed into a unique work of art by installing laser off cuts with the off-shutter formwork. The roof trusses were also re-used as cladding on the facade to distinguish old from new and ground floor from first floor.

Architecture meets art in an artwork by Sybrand Wiechers installed at the existing studio entrance. The roof was raised to form a tower to properly display Wiecher’s ‘We nailed it’. The concept of the art installation is to serve as a reminder to everyone that challenges are there to be metaphorically nailed (overcome). A large focal window in the studio space allows the artwork to be seen and appreciated from all angles.

With the additions and alterations, it was decided to use the cheapest paint to inspire the colour palette, ‘Contractor’s white’. This keeps maintenance costs low, is readily accessible and can easily be applied by anyone without experience. The white paint allows light flooding in from the eastern window to reflect and disperse in the interior studio space, limiting the need for artificial light sources.

The garden spaces were designed with simplicity, low maintenance and water conservancy in mind. All plants for landscaping were sourced from landscapers discarding plant material. The white vygies were specifically cultivated for the project and obtained from Kirstenbosch. At the southern courtyard, a single Wild Olive tree was used as the sculptural element. Cheap Buffalo grass completes the low maintenance water-wise garden. A sculpture by Angus Taylor rounds off the garden and acts as the passive security guard of the building. Discarded concrete test cubes are used as the entrance path; these were provided for free from a local laboratory and supplemented by previous projects by the project architects.

As a sensitive response to the site, the existing structure, existing materials and most importantly the end user’s adaptive requirements, this studio and residential space succeeds as a cohesive, appropriate contemporary design.

Mathews and Associates Architects cc is an award winning architectural and design practice which was formed in November 2000. Our practice consists of Pieter J Mathews as lead architect supported by a dynamic team of colleagues and support staff. As a dynamic and innovative company we understand the importance of technology. Our office is fully equipped with the latest graphics, construction sharing and architectural 3-D software on the market. Our numerous awards bear testimony to our skills and talent. Herewith a list of projects undertaken

MAAA, Mathews + Associates Architects, Architecture, Building, Construction, Award, Pretoria, Design, KEE Enterprises MAAA, Mathews + Associates Architects, Clients, University of Pretoria, NWU, Toyota, Damelin, Implats, AHPS, AHS, City of Tshwane, SANRAL, Lafarge Holcim; Oaktree Studio

MAAA, Mathews + Associates Architects, Architecture, Building, Construction, Award, Pretoria, Design, KEE Enterprises MAAA, Mathews + Associates Architects, Clients, University of Pretoria, NWU, Toyota, Damelin, Implats, AHPS, AHS, City of Tshwane, SANRAL, Lafarge Holcim; Oaktree Studio

MAAA, Mathews + Associates Architects, Architecture, Building, Construction, Award, Pretoria, Design, KEE Enterprises MAAA, Mathews + Associates Architects, Clients, University of Pretoria, NWU, Toyota, Damelin, Implats, AHPS, AHS, City of Tshwane, SANRAL, Lafarge Holcim; Oaktree Studio

Pieter J Mathews was born in Lichtenburg Northwest province where he matriculated in 1985 (head boy). He obtained his degree in Architecture at the University of Pretoria (1991), receiving the prestigious Gold Fields of South Africa Scholarship for Architecture. He completed part of his practical training in London, after which he travelled extensively around the globe. He is principal of Mathews & Associates Architects cc based in Pretoria. Mathews and Associates Architects cc have received numerous awards and their projects have been published in many local and overseas publications with the latest being the prestigious PHAIDON Atlas (electronic), Arch Daily (electronic), UK Guardian and the official 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale catalogue. The latter was a result of his appointed by the Department of Arts and Culture as curator for the official South African Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Biennale Venice. Other biennale participation includes Sao Paulo Brazil (as part of Sharp City), Miami Beach USA 2005 and the 2012 Venice Biennale (Traces of centuries & Future steps). He was the President of the Pretoria Institute for Architecture (PIA) 2013/2014, ex board member of SAIA (South African Institute of Architects) and Cool Capital 2014 and 2016 Biennale founder and convener. The PIA President’s Award was bestowed on him in 2005 & 2014 for his book Architexture and Cool Capital respectively. He received the University of Pretoria Department of Architecture Boukunde Zero Hour recognition (edition 3) in 2012. He was elected member of the “Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns” in 2014. In 2018 Mathews was honoured by die ‘Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns’ with the Medal of Honour Visual Art (Architecture). This prestigious award has only been awarded to 20 architects since the establishment of the foundation in 1909. Pieter created Visual Books, an imprint of Mathews and Associates Architects as a bespoke architectural and design publishing house. Visual books and Mathews have published - Detail Housed and Architexture, edited the PIA Contemporary Capital publication and is publishing manager for Construction Primer by Hans Wegelin. He co-edited #Cool Capital Catalogue in 2015 with Carla Taljaard and acted as editor of the 2017 Cool Capital Guerrilla Design Magazine. (Both publications were exhibited at the Austrian Vienna Take festival 2017 to showcase the best international independent design publications). In 2017, Saadjies was released with an Afrikaans iteration in the works. Pieter was De Kat magazine’s architectural editor and has also made more than 30 television appearances on various design programs showcasing their firms’ designs. Pieter Mathews regularly acts as an external design examiner for the Department of Architecture at the University of Pretoria (Thesis), the University of the Free State (Thesis) and the Tshwane University of Technology (3rd year). He was invited to judge the Flemish delegation’s ‘Climate Change meets Street Art City mural project’ (CCMSA). Honoured to co-present these awards with the visiting Flemish Minister-President H. E Mr. Geert Bourgeois in Pretoria 2017 whilst on official visit. Passion for preserving the built environment led to the Embassy of the Netherlands appointing his firm to document the Dutch footsteps in Pretoria on an internet platform. www.dutchfootsteps.com. Pieter acted as a judge for the 2019 PPC Imaginarium Awards in the Architecture category. Public speaking engagements included the PIA Idea conference in 2016, TEDxPretoria 2016, various student congresses with the last being keynote speaker at the AZA 2016 conference held at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 2016 Pieter was invited by the Danish curator to take part in a panel discussion at the La Biennale di Venezia. In 2017 was a guest speaker at the Attractions Africa conference hosted by Tourism South Africa in 2017. He is also the founding member of MG Design Box (interior design boutique), Visual Books (architecture publishing house) and the Cool Capital Biennale (a citizen driven initiative with the aim to bring design into the public domain). The Cool Capital project was a finalist in the 2015 Loerie Ubuntu awards and BASA winner Innovation for the PPC public benches project. The Saadjies travelling art collection received a BASA award in 2017. He was executive producer for the documentary film “DorpStad” unwrapping a Cool Capital which premièred in 2015 at the Sax Theatre Irene. Dorpstad (ENABA) was selected for the Hilversum Scenecs Film festival in the Netherlands and one of three documentary finalists for the 2016 Kyknet Silwerskerm film fees. Other related creative interests include furniture design, product design, and the curation of urban art. The latest urban functional art project was commissioned by the Stellenbosch Outdoor Sculpture Trust for a bicycle stand in 2018 in front of the Skuinshuis and the old synagogue in Stellenbosch. Other commissions included Southern Guild foundation, Concrete Growth as well as House & Leisure- Absolute Vodka for designing various bespoke pieces. Sculpture is another of his keen interests: he successfully completed two sculpture courses in 2010 at the Fried Contemporary, followed by an exhibition in 2011 at the Association of Arts Pretoria called Form, Scrap & Order. Art curation in the urban domain is another of his fortes. In 2014 Mathews and Associates Architects with Pieter as curator was appointed by SANRAL (SOC) Pty Ltd and the City of Tshwane to curate public artworks for the A RE Yeng TRT bus stations. 11 of these public sculpture and artworks have already been installed throughout the city. Appointment as curator for the 2016 Aardklop kunstefees followed. The Saadjies exhibition was selected to be showcased at the North West University Alumni Hall, as part of a travelling exhibition. The Saadjies project has received the BASA award in 2017. As an outflow of his belief that art, architecture and sculpture should be in constant dialogue, Mathews and Associates Architects cc have been appointed to design the new Javett Art Centre at UP that would cross Lynnwood road. This major gallery, museum, restaurant and auditorium complex would place art in the core of the public domain with a bridge gallery linking North and South Campuses. As research component for this major undertaking he was invited in 2013 to form part of a UP study group to the USA, organized by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation to visit various Museums and gallery buildings. These included the Yale University Art Gallery, Zimmerli Art Museum, Princeton University Art Museum, The Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State University, Grey Art Gallery, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum. Pieter is currently completing his Master of Architecture with specialisation in Design at the University of the Free State. Pieter is married to Ami and they have two boys Gian and Kyle.