28 Hudson Street Extension
Leon Saven Architectural Design
This is a thoughtful and careful contribution to the city.
It is an important project inasmuch as it represents a growing recognition amongst clients and architects of the importance of the heritage of our city – this recognition is not only extended to the better known buildings of the city but also the everyday buildings which reflect the way of life of that time. This sophisticated view is very welcome and can be traced possibly to the growing recognition that heritage has to play in our city through the introduction of the M.Phil. degree program in Heritage studies offered by the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics at the University of Cape Town.
This project reflects this set of values. The existing buildings do not in themselves carry much architectural value yet represent the city’s history. The architect has responded enthusiastically to the challenge of converting and adding new spaces to the existing building. The strategy is not unlike a process of stitching and tying old and new spaces together. This is done however without either old or new losing their character – it is apparent what is new and what exists. To be able to draw this kind of distinction successfully and yet at the same time to merge these components together is a difficult task for the architect. Sometimes this is done in such a way that it is difficult to judge new from old – this did not happen in this case.
Spatially the new spaces are well integrated and the owner’s program for a new gallery is well expressed in both planning and spatial terms.
The details are well considered and old and new materials are brought together in a sophisticated way so that – whilst they remain clearly distinct one from the other – the manner in which they are brought together enhances both.
The only quibble that the assessors had with the submission had to do with the formal resolution of the front of the building – it was felt that the stepped back façade rather overwhelmed the existing façade and could have been made in a different way so that the scale and relative importance of the existing façade would have been enhanced. Other than this concern it was considered by the assessors to be a building worthy of an award.