Designer by Destiny22 Dec, 2011 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson
User Profile: Looking back, Dawid van Rensburg’s unpredictable journey into architecture was always in the cards.
Dawid van Rensburg, 28, had no idea his childhood dream of becoming an architect would ever come true. Today he manages a studio in association with his principal and is designing homes that are at the same time amazing and satisfying— all the while going easy on the Earth.
Dawid van Rensburg
Van Rensburg: I grew up in Pretoria, South Africa, just outside Johannesburg, and finished high school at John Vorster, a technical school. After a failed six-day attempt telemarketing, I joined my brother in starting a web company, and from there I entered the world of digital design. The year was 2002.
In early 2005, after a long deliberation, my wife and I decided it was time to follow our dream and move ourselves to the KwaZulu Natal region of the South Coast, just outside Durban. That turned out to be the best decision that I've ever made. About a year later, I answered an advertisement in the local newspaper for an architectural position that offered the opportunity of in-house training, and I got the job. My dream of pursuing architecture as a career started.
How does one become an architect in South Africa?
To have the designation of architect in South Africa, one must have completed five years of full-time study to obtain a degree in architecture. Other professional designations include Professional Senior Architectural Technologist, which requires a three-year bachelor's degree and one year of work-integrated learning; a Professional Architectural Technologist, which requires a three-year diploma or an advanced certificate plus one year of integrated learning; and a Professional Architectural Draftsman, which requires a grade 12 education plus ten years' professional experience. All designations require different written Professional Practice Exams for registration with the architectural body.
I have been working as a Candidate Professional Senior Architectural Technologist for the past six years under the supervision of two different Professional Senior Architectural Technologists. However, because of recent changes here in the building industry that have increased the qualifications one must have to become an architect, I must now obtain qualification initially as a Professional Architectural Draftsman. In South Africa there are no part-time studies for architecture, and SACAP (the architectural council here) is not longer recognizing prior learning, so I plan to look for part-time studies abroad that will be recognized by SACAP to further my education and enhance my knowledge of architecture.
What does your job look like today?
In June 2011, I started an architectural association called Fusion Studio Architecture and have acquired the services of a long-time friend and mentor. The name Fusion Studio is in reference to the combination of my design expertise and my associate's 30 years of experience. Our main focus is residential dwellings, but I also have designed an industrial unit with facilities for a permanent residence. I am always looking to creatively and technically challenge myself and would love to expand to larger projects.
How did you become interested in design?
Since I can remember I enjoyed the process of design, and from a very early age I dreamt of becoming an architect, though I never imagined that this dream of mine would become a reality. I've always done pencil-sketch, portrait-style drawings, and during my high school years I excelled at technical drawing. I believe it was the combination of these two that spawned the talent for architectural design.
What inspires you?
Functional form is the base of all my designs, and then I look at how to aesthetically enhance the structure so as to reflect the needs of the design. I love combining different elements, such as color depth, warmth of timber, the rugged nature of bricks and concrete, and the modular effect one can achieve with steel structural elements.
My ideal project would probably be designing a lifestyle village, with its own city center, schools, and so forth, that is able to completely sustain itself through a focus on green energy efficiency, the ability to generate power using the elements at our disposal, and catchment and recycling of all water. Green efficiency is something that is very close to my heart; I also love the design challenges it presents us as architects and the multitude of solutions that we are actually able to employ.
Tell us all about "The Art of Living" and "Tranquility Defined" projects.
"The Art of Living" draws on my fascination with modular design and looking for a way to use the windows in the same way as they are used on most modern skyscrapers, giving the outside of the building a much smoother feel. To meet the client's needs, the home also had to double as a formal space for entertaining business friends and an informal dwelling in which his family could come and go as they pleased, without interfering with one another.
Dawid van Rensburg's design, "The Art of Living," demonstrates the designer's evolving style. He uses AutoCAD for drawing, Newtek's Lightwave 3D for design visualization, and Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop for presentations.
Lower ground floor plan, "The Art of Living." (Click to view larger image.)
Upper ground floor plan, "The Art of Living." (Click to view larger image.)
First floor plan, "The Art of Living." (Click to view larger image.)
"Tranquility Defined" was designed to incorporate the existing structure on the site while enhancing the living experience to embrace the 180-degree sea view. The roof is a defining aspect of this dwelling and was designed to give the home the feeling of movement, making it a dynamic element, flowing in a counter-intuitive manner.
Van Rensburg's "Tranquility Defined."
Lower ground floor plan, "Tranquility Defined." (Click to view larger image.)
Upper ground floor plan, "Tranquility Defined." (Click to view larger image.)
First floor plan, "Tranquility Defined." (Click to view larger image.)
Why did you choose these projects to share with Cadalyst?
Though I am constantly changing and enhancing my design style, these two projects best define the style that I am striving to perfect.
What are your interests outside work?
I love doing missionary work, giving back to the community and helping the underprivileged. We only have a short time here on earth, I'd like to make mine count.
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