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University of Fort Hare, School of Agriculture Auditorium
Alice, Eastern Cape

Edward PEINKE : Design Architect

2013BKIA Award for Architecture
2014SAIA Award of Merit


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32°47'03.87" S 26°50'45.02" E Alt: 538m

Award of Merit citation

When architects do their job really well, they usually achieve buildings and spaces with a quiet sense of 'rightness' about them. When the observer or visitor steps into the shoes of the architect, even for a brief moment, and allows him- or herself to become acquainted with the logic the architect developed and applied in the design of a building - respect for their accomplishment usually follows. The design logic of the architects of this building is immediately and directly clear for visitors and observers alike.

All auditoriums need to follow certain parameters in order for them to properly fulfill their functions. They are also highly serviced spaces. Their expense needs to be optimised by means of frequency of use (crucially important at any university), and sensibility needs to be applied as to the level and sophistication of services, since it is easy to pitch these incorrectly. In reality, the demands placed on the budget by these technical necessities can be such that not much budget remains for the building itself. In all of this, a careful balancing act is usually required. It is also critically important to get the basics right.

The above is what has been achieved with this auditorium.The balance between building envelope and technical requirements ensures that the auditorium fulfills, in an excellent manner, all the basic requirements. The design of the building is efficient without any superfluous elements, while it respects and complements its built and natural environment. It connects logically with existing infrastructure and its detailing has a direct quality.

The generous way that the foyer space opens up to the views of the building's natural surroundings is a thoughtful antidote to the weariness that can result from attending lectures. The most memorable aspect of the building is, quite rightly, the interior of the auditorium. This is a space that should, in principle, enable continuous concentration on, and involvement in, the educational experience. The auditorium is also shaped in such a way that the audience can interact with one another in an easy manner -creating a much more personal and social experience when it is in use. Overall the crisp, tranquil and well-considered detail and layout of this building enables the space to be positively memorable.

(Paul Kotze - 2014)

Writings about this entry

South African Institute of Architects. 2014. Awards : South African Institute of Architects. Awards for Excellence, Awards of Merit, Regional Awards for Architecture 2013/2014. Cape Town: Picasso for SAIA. pg 30-31