About Us

The Cape Institute for Architecture is affiliated to the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) and is one of eleven regional institutes. The Institute is constituted according to the Architects Act 44 of 2000. All member categories are required to be registered with the statutory body, the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP).


Michael Borgström
(PSAT) – President

Nicola Irving
(PrArch) – Immediate Past President

John Wilson-Harris
(PrArch) – Vice President

Henk Lourens

Kevin Gadd
(PrArch) – Convener: Finance


Allistair Cloete
(PAT) - Marketing

(PrArch) – Convener: Heritage Review

Louis Steyn
(PrArch) – Helderberg Chapter


Lynette Thabo


Francois Nortje



School of Explorative Architecture


Asa Gordon
Executive Officer

Soraya Rakiep
Secretariat & Membership



Architects are uniquely qualified to advocate for better environments for people. They have distinctive skills and training to evaluate planning problems in all their complexity, and to bring many factors together and resolve them coherently.

They are uniquely suited to envisage and facilitate holistic solutions, working with each project’s particular physical, financial, social, cultural and other criteria. In so doing, they can help create desirable, safe and supportive environments for living, learning and working and create sustainable employment.

Architects are unlikely to regard the solution to the South African housing shortage as one of ‘rolling out’ more free-standing housing ‘boxes’ and of engineering cheaper and more efficient ways of building and servicing these. The ‘problem’ is likely to be redefined from first principles as one of creating desirable, sustainable, supportive living and working environments for people. Environments which reflect the diverse requirements and aspirations of their inhabitants, which will develop and age well over time and provide a stage set for life in all its glory, its ritual, its richness and its unpredictability.


When the processes and implementation are addressed successfully, benefits and financial success extend far beyond the obvious and into the realm of ‘the greater good’, with improved quality of life and less of the problems (and associated costs) arising from top down planning of engineered solutions.

Improvements to social and environmental issues will reduce pressure on other services needed to address problems associated with poorly planned environments.

The CIfA endorses the UIA General Principle which states:

Architects must bring to society special and unique knowledge, professional skills, and aptitudes essential to the development of the built environment and to those societies and cultures in which such development takes place. 

* Guidelines for the UIA Accord on Recommended International Standards of Professionalism in Architectural Practice Policy on Ethics and Conduct November 1997 Revised April 1998 Revised December 10-12, 1998 Adopted June, 1999 Revised October 2010 Amended by the UIA Council held in Beirut, Lebanon, January 2011


The Western Cape’s historic buildings are of vital importance in the narrative of the local area and the broader national history, and they support the community identity and develop a shared sense of place. Maintaining historically significant buildings also boosts tourism and creates job opportunities.

Yet despite this many of our historic buildings are at risk of destruction by development or are falling into disrepair, threatening the very character of the neighbourhoods that they are such an integral part of. There are also other social and environmental factors that can lead to destruction of historic buildings such as crime or flooding.

As an organisation the CIfA seeks to ensure that the architectural heritage of the province is cared for, so that it can be appreciated for generations to come.

Heritage is, or should be, the subject of active public debate and discussion. Active public and professional discussion about heritage – by individuals, groups, communities, and nations – is a crucial aspect of public life in our multicultural society.

The Institute is an important contributor to that debate. If we are to see heritage as a significant part of our present context and to support the future, then it is important that our voices and comments stimulate the necessary debate that will ensure excellence in our built environment.

As an Institute it is vital that we consider the role that heritage should play as an influence in appropriate new development. With this objective, the Institute meets with role players at national, provincial and local level and gives comment, when requested, on new developments in historically sensitive areas.


Buildings worldwide account for almost half of the global carbon footprint and this must push architects and other built environment professionals to the very forefront of efforts to develop and encourage more sustainable thinking generally.

Many effective sustainable design strategies have been in existence since buildings were first constructed and as architects we are well aware of their value. Much can be achieved through the simple process of intelligently orientating a building, an understanding of local climatic conditions, allowing for the various seasonal changes in the intensity of sunlight when considering façade treatments, the judicious use of roof overhangs and the consideration of effective insulation through the specification of suitable material.

These are just some of the many ways we can begin to address the problems of inefficiency in design and all of them are currently considered simply good building practice. All of them in some way reduce the need to excessively heat and cool our buildings, decreasing the burden on power supplies.

Recent legislation in the form of environmentally-based building regulations has mandated many of these issues and is set to deal with many more in the near future. This will undoubtedly assist in addressing a general business trend, which tends to avoid any change, which has even a perception of additional costs.

Further strategies can begin to address even larger social and cultural issues. Ideas around the use of recycled materials, locally sourced materials and even the encouragement of local manufacturing of these materials could see large shifts in economic patterns, reducing the staggering amounts of energy required to transport these materials all over the world. Planning our cities and buildings with a view to much easier connectivity could reduce the impact of private cars on our environment as well as reducing inefficiencies in spatial planning. This would create both vibrant public spaces and more time to enjoy them.

It is clear that people will never be scared into living more sustainably. We have to, in our role as architects, demonstrate just how dynamic and aspirational such a world could be. We need to pool our considerable knowledge and work collaboratively to clearly articulate this vital message.

As environmentalist and author Jonathon Porrit succinctly states “The future will be green, or not at all.”

Venue Hire

The Cape Institute for Architecture has occupied its headquarters building at 71 Hout Street since 1986. First built as a warehouse in 1895, the building was later restructured internally by Revel Fox & Partners.

There are two venues available for hire within the Institute’s headquarters:

Ground floor gallery

The gallery space is used for exhibitions, and can be hired for drinks receptions.

Presentation Venue

The second floor venue can seat up to 100 people in a cinema style layout.


Catering can be provided on request.
Venue hire fee includes the use of CIfA data projector, laptop and staffing. AV/PA equipment can be hired on request.

If you would like to book this venue, please contact: info@cifa.org.za