Talking Architecture with GASS Architecture Studio

Award-winning architectural firm GASS, headed by Piet Boer and Georg van Gass, is committed to creating spaces for people. They’ll be taking part in the Collaborative Roomsets feature at Design Joburg, working with top brands to create an ‘Inside Outside Pavilion’.

The duo describe the theme as ‘significant’ and one that will allow them to interpret 'the quintessential essence of our South African lifestyle'.

We chatted to Piet and Georg about their work, trends and local architecture.

How would you describe your architectural style?

South African minimalism but with stacks of texture.  

What can visitors expect from you at Design Joburg?

We’ve been tasked with creating an ‘Inside Outside Pavilion’. A significant theme that allows us to capture the quintessential essence of our South African lifestyle. 

Who are you collaborating with on your feature?

Marlanteak will be showcasing the latest alfresco furniture designs from Europe. Darkroom Lighting will be supplying both the shadows and the lighting for the pavilion. Union Tiles are providing the tiles for the feature whilst Swissfireplace will be keeping it cosy with an assortment of their fires combining the latest designs and technologies in heating. This will all be presented within an impressive steel structure by Vera Cruz Manufacturing.

What is your best piece of architectural advice?

Buildings should be designed around you and your needs. Design aesthetic is always important, but functionality more so. Buildings should be beautiful, but they won’t be timeless if they are not usable.

What direction is architecture moving in?

In our minds texture is a very big movement in architecture. It’s about looking at, and learning from, past masters and how they created interest in buildings, most apparent in decoration. The challenge is to translate this into pure form, in a contemporary context that is relevant for modern architecture.

So how could we see this interest in texture implemented within our own homes?
It’s how you treat different architectural elements. We’re currently using flagstones (or paving bricks) for the indoor floors of a residential project. We’re arranging them in a herringbone pattern and combining it with honed marble tiles. The traditional brick colour and texture, together with the charcoal smoothness of the tiles, creates a depth in colour and texture. This is an old concept but used in a different way.

Is there a colour palette that is popular right now? 

Black-and-white is the new black! It’s not a checkerboard interpretation though, but a cleaner understanding of how these colours work together.

What would you like to see more of in local architecture?

In Joburg, we’d like to see a better relationship between buildings and the pedestrian. This is evident in Sandton, where there still seems to be a lack of consideration for the public and their interaction with buildings. Fortunately, we are seeing a shift, albeit slow, towards more considered planning and design.

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