The design brief of the competition was to create a timber house for a South African family and learn about timber; a modern sustainable material in the process. An international jury comprising of architects Richard Stretton, Mano Kalos, Ivan Jonker and Pavel Horák had the challenging task to choose a winner from 10 inspired project submissions.
The first place went to Carla Jooste with her project called “Nature in a Home”. This submission represented a combination of originality, sustainability and serving a family’s needs in a home. The second price was awarded to Fundokuhle Kubheka for his new take on social housing with timber construction.
We asked Carla Jooste about her experience as a young professional partaking in this international competition that led to her internship in Europe.
“At my first Wood Conference in 2015, I heard about the Wood Student Foundation from one of the speakers. I was intrigued by the idea and thought to myself what a lovely opportunity it would be to be part of the Foundation. When the Timber Competition came along in 2018, I jumped at the opportunity. My design proposal was chosen as the overall winner and the prize was an internship in Prague. This was the part where my fleeing dream from my first conference came true and spectacularly, super excitingly so” said Jooste. She attends Wood conferences without fail and will be a speaker at the 10th Wood Conference in 2020.
The Timber competition was organised by HWZ International’s team with the support of Novatop and the Wood Student foundation and registration opened in August 2018. The programme of the competition was to design a sustainable wooden home for a South African family with three children. “I always like to challenge myself and learn about innovative materials and methods. So, I was very eager to participate in such a prestigious and well organised, amazing competition” remembers Carla Jooste. The budget and more detailed description of the family in the brief was withheld. It was up to the participants to interpret the need of South African families of five members says Carla, “I tackled the immense research task of what SA families would like with determination and a lot of work into discovering their preferences, as opposed to mine. This task as well as the wonderful ambiance that a wooden house creates made it a very personal labour of love”.
Jooste admitted that she had to deliberately consider how South African people would relate to wooden structures as it is not mainstream in SA, “I think most people have a misconception of timber construction and their concerns are mostly related to fire insulation, deforestation and termites. After my visits to successfully completed projects in Czech Republic and my internship with Architect Pavel Horák, I found the solutions to these concerns and it all lies in the correct design”, she continued.
Internship & Falling in love with Timber
The first prize for the winner of the Timber Competition was a one-week-internship in Czech Republic, which took place in September 2019. Carla Jooste had a full programme during her Internship. She spent several days in the company Prodesi/Domesi with the director and one of the main architects Pavel Horák, who is also founder of Salon Drevostaveb, (the annual exhibition of interesting Czech and Slovak timber constructions). They worked together in the office, visited various building sites including, the famous concept house and completed projects.
“One of my highlights of the internship was the visit to the weekend house in Jizerske hory with Pavel Horák. The beautiful vertical larch planks on the façade weathered naturally with a silver-grey finish that fits perfectly in the surrounding landscape. The home sits gently in the landscape, with the upper structure slightly cantilevering over the stone plinth. I was intrigued and amazed how the home sensitively blends into the surroundings and with a breath-taking west panoramic view over the valley,” Jooste summed up.
“What I saw was what I wanted to create from the beginning in my design. A house that becomes part of nature and is comfortable, sustainable and a place that connects the family to nature, because I think we - as humans – need and want nature in our homes” is how Jooste explained her passion for architecture. It was very interesting for both parties to compare how architects on two different sides of the world work and to see how many similarities there are in the creative processes of Czech and South African architects: “Architects follow the same design process throughout the world, what stood out for me from Prodesi/Domesi studio is the ability the company has to specialise in timber construction and pursue it wholeheartedly providing clients with beautiful homes. What also inspired me being in Prodesi/Domesi Office is how successful they are combining the Architect’s and Building Contractor’s work to provide excellent outcomes” noted Carla Jooste after her internship. The difference between a house and home is important for her and she believes that good architectural design in combination with the right building material can elevate the homely experience to another level, then “just” a nice house. “For me, a home is not just the complex structure, but the place and space creation that has people feeling warmth and loved. To achieve this emotion in a home is my aim as a designer.”
After spending several days with Prodesi/Domesi architects, visiting their projects and exploring the old as well as modern architecture of Prague, Carla Jooste travelled to eastern part of Czech Republic to spend a day at the Novatop production plant and meet the team, who also supports South African Architects. For Jooste, the internship was not just an opportunity or another step in her career, she truly found a real inspiration and calling there.
“The week in Prague was such an amazing experience. The internship gave me a broad overview of timber construction and it has been an utterly amazing experience. The program consisted of 5 days in Prague, including visiting Prodesi/Domesi’s atelier, their construction sites, completed timber houses, Prague’s largest Building Expo and the factory of Novatop. Also meeting with the Quantity Surveyor of Novatop as well as visiting the beautiful forest. I was very grateful to the staff of the atelier of Domesi who were extraordinary. Not only did they receive me with open arms, they accepted me into the office and made me feel at home and gave me the opportunity to gain experience and grow. I also had the privilege to meet and spend time with well-known and beloved Czech Architect, Pavel Horák, who took time out of his busy schedule to teach me about Timber Construction” Jooste concludes.
Visit the Timber Competitions homepage to see Carla Jooste’s project as well as inspiring concepts designed by the other participants.