2011/2012 SAIA Awards we receive two awards

Thank you

Even though Andrew and Gavin received the awards, there are many people behind the scenes that saw to the succesful completion of the projects. We would like to thank everyone involved, for their efforts with the Aspen Pharmacare and Nelson Mandela Bay Aqautics Centre projects.

As passionate designers we would like to build on what we have created and to emphasise our commitment to creative and afforable solutions for our clients.

Andrew Thomson on the far right and Gavin Schönknecht second from the right


Aspen Pharmacare

Aspen Pharmacare

Project Team: Gavin Schönknecht, Piet Jacobs, Steve Knott


The building succinctly and unobtrusively explores the idea of a 'contained sterile working environment' within the context of the greater Aspen Campus and the city of Port Elizabeth. More notable is how the new additions soften a campus that appears to be traditionally industrial and mechanistic into an elegant pharmaceuticals manufacture and production gallery. This is craftily illustrated by the manner in which the white walled internal volumes of the additions and alterations display or exhibit the conduiting and machinery as sculptures within warehouse-sized work spaces of walls that are strategically punctured with openings that frame portraits of in- and outdoor spaces.

The historical characterless industrial eastern façade of the campus now exploits the dam views and landscape, whilst the façade's three projecting block forms articulate and aesthetically give rhythm to an otherwise cacophonic street edge. This effectively elevates the quality of the campus' eastern edge; celebrating the relationship between the natural and man-made environments.

This project convincingly marks a shift in pharmaceutical factory design by the exhibitionist approach of the interior spaces, coupled with the systematic visual dialogue created by the unconventional 'portrait-like' window openings between laboratories and corridors. Through this project Aspen successfully demystifies a long-standing tradition of inaccessible, insular and cocooned laboratories by exploiting double-glazing to achieve the required vacuum-sealed interiors as prescribed by pharmaceutical factory design.

The building also presents creative solutions on how to bring natural lighting and interactive views into what is traditionally a sterile white environment, thus allowing for better social and special cohesion within the building and between interior and exterior spaces.

Newton Park Swimming Pool

Newton Park Swimming Pool
Project Team: Andrew Thomson, Piet Jacobs, Chuma Mshumpela, Robert Falconer


The introduction of a building envelope around the original Newton Park swimming pool structure creates an internal environment that allows for an expanded yet controlled cross-seasonal use of the swimming pool and related facilities. This new envelope has successfully tackled considerations to energy efficiency, lighting and acoustics. The new 'wing-like' roof affords the centre prominence within its urban context, making it a dignified land mark structure.

To add to this iconic, bold – yet subtle – post-modernist façade geometries and treatments at the knuckle between the old and the new structures animate what would likely have been a typical warehouse building into a grand structure that punctuates the surrounding suburban low-rise skyline. The entire structure is expressed as a form of artificial life nestled in a valley within which the serene 'reclining' structure reaches to the sky.

The detailed exposure of the structural elements and metal lattice system allows one to read the intention of the envelope as an envelope that is sincere to its function without limiting and, or interrupting the activities and operations of the centre. The overall design is executed as a harmoniously poetic tension of a building that anchors the manmade built environment within the valley-like natural landscape.




2011 Thembela Architects all rights reserved.