Restoration projects are of great value for all cities in the world, from many points of view. By their nature they must recognize and understand the value of old buildings, both in terms of their design and making, and in terms of their social and cultural value. In terms of sustainability, it is important to restore and preserve what we have, as opposed to replacing it with the new. Restoration of projects such as this one, have the added benefit and opportunity of making old spaces, designed for different purposes, be used in new and contemporary ways. In this way the life of the building continues. The project of preserving the old, while renewing it for new functions and purposes is where the greatest challenge lies for Architects.
The restoration of the historical complex at Valkenberg, was, we believed a commendable effort on the part of Thorold Architects, in addressing all of these objectives. The project illustrates a devoted commitment to cherishing, protecting, and faithfully restoring the built fabric. The architects’ knowledge and understanding of old construction technologies was clear, and they have definitely gone to great lengths to bring the Valkenberg buildings back to their original splendour.
The small opportunities for modernisation, which are often a way of celebrating the old by contrasting it with the new, were however not as successful as they could have been. On inspection, it was sometimes difficult to tell which era light-fittings, partitions, cupboards and awnings were from. The panel thought that the contrast between old and new could have been more pronounced, but we also understood the complexities at hand.
Overall it was agreed that this project is commendable for its efforts and contribution to the architectural landscape of Cape Town.