SA architect Jaco Booyens, and SAOTA won a gold medal at the International Domus Restoration and Conservation Awards in Italy.
South Africa (10 July 2020) – South African architect Jaco Booyens and SAOTA won a gold medal for their restoration of the ensemble of heritage buildings at Buffelsdrift at the seventh edition of the International Domus Restoration and Conservation Awards in Italy.
This prestigious international award recognises excellence in the field of restoration and architectural and landscape recovery at an international level. It is conceived by the company Fassa S.r.l. and by the University of Ferrara. The winners of the 7th edition in 2020, were announced online through a live streaming event on 2 July 2020.
The judging panel had to work through entries from 73 contributing countries including among others, China, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Russia and USA. There were only two gold medals awarded, which makes this an incredible achievement for South African architecture. The second gold medal went to Giorgio Forti and Ilaria Forti for the restoration of the Façade of the church of Santa Maria Di Nazareth (Vulgo Degli Scalzi).
Jaco Booyens, who lives in Robertson, Western Cape, says: “Winning this feels a bit like winning the Olympics or the World Championships. It was totally unexpected and came as a huge surprise.”
It took Booyens and the SAOTA team 4 years to complete the winning project (Pictured above). Buffelsdrift Farm is located west of Ladismith in the Klein Karoo region of the Western Cape in South Africa.
The farm is structurally typical of South African culture, born of the intermingling of different cultures and building techniques. It is made up of several constructions dating from the mid-nineteenth century built on a large agricultural estate that had recently been refurbished and replanted. The original buildings, made of poured earth, had undergone several modifications to the plastering and roofing, as well as to the whole, due to incongruous additions.
The restoration project attempted to clear such incongruities, returning, moreover, to traditional construction techniques. Thus, the walls were broken down, restored using clay and re-plastered using local techniques; in the same way, a broad roof pitch that had in recent times been covered with corrugated metal sheet was reconfigured using the original thatching technique with local plant materials.
Booyens says: “To honour the heritage of the existing buildings, materials were carefully selected to ensure that a little of the construction history is visible, showcasing elements of how these buildings were originally put together.”
The result is particularly convincing in the redefinition of the volumes within a natural landscape that is an integral part of the design. Winning this competition is another example of South Africa being able to compete equally in any field on an international scale.
Booyens was impressed with the diversity of the projects entered.
“I especially enjoyed the project from Haratori office Switzerland (silver medal) which involved the repurposing of an airy old barn as a technical office and the Zhujiadian brick kiln Museum (honourable mention), an entree from China. To be valued as an equal entree to the other gold medal for the Restoration of the façade of the church Santa Maria di Nazareth in Venice by Giorgio Forti, Ilaria Forti is an enormous honour. The work is so intricate that they have spent the last 11 years on their project.”
For many years, the Department of Architecture of the University of Ferrara has developed initiatives for education and the exchange of design ideas, including the prestigious “Fassa Bortolo International Prize for Sustainable Architecture” conceived by the University of Ferrara in 2003.
These activities also include the International “Domus Restoration and Preservation Prize”, the sector’s first initiative aimed at focused attention of a wide public on architectural restoration projects which have sensitively interpreted the principles of conservative restoration.