Oude Werf Hotel
Click to view large map
Church Street in Stellenbosch, where this hotel is situated, is a spatially and symbolically important street in the old colonial part of town. It is the link between Bird Street, which borders on Die Braak (an important urban space), while also focusing on the historically important Dutch Reformed Church.
The buildings defining the street are all of a similar character and height. As urban conditions in South Africa go, this is unique. It is into this sought-after urban and historical character that the architects had to insert the demanding requirements of a luxury hotel. In order to do so, they had to restore and rework older buildings and create new ones, while respecting and enhancing this sensitive urban context.
Hotels are complex because some of the most important functions - such as the Back of House - are never seen but are crucial to their effective functioning. Furthermore, hotels are dependent on quality of service, imageability and memorability for their continued existence. It is not often that an architect gets all these demands right.
However, in this example of the Oude Werf Hotel, Revel Fox & Partners did well. They managed to restore the ageing 1802 building and a single-storey cottage with a verandah, as well as simplify the facade of a more contemporary building, and have added a large section of new accommodation - mostly surrounding a courtyard.
The project team achieved all this while also retaining important old trees and inserting a parking garage; at great cost due to the complexity. Additionally, all the buildings indicate clearly the year in which they were constructed, while respectfully creating a unified whole.
The architects managed to make these changes look so easy and effortless - always the hallmark of good and careful work. The Oude Werf Hotel is architecturally an unassuming yet highly sophisticated and positive example, from which others can learn how to solve complex problems successfully.
Writings about this entry