Getting to know Kevin Els of Evolve Architects
South African architecture firm Evolve Architects is led by Kevin Els, Nick Brits and Anja Williams, who share a desire to innovate through design and technology. With a distinguishable, timeless style, Evolve has become internationally known for creating designs of distinction and for being environmentally friendly. We chat to Els about his work and the state of South African architecture.
How does Evolve Architects strive to stand out from other local architecture firms?
It's our basic fundamentals, personal interaction, understanding, delivering and exceeding the expectations of our clients that set us apart. We are very proud of our high standard and maintain this ethos irrespective of small or large projects.
What style of architecture is your favourite and what are your favourite materials to use?
Architecture is influenced by many factors; not only by the client's brief, but also the setting, environment and future surrounding conditions. We tend to look at sustainable materials, energy efficiency and treatments and we favour natural resources such as stone, glass, timber, steel and recycled insulation materials.
What's your preference when designing: residential, hotels or industrial buildings?
Evolve Architects produces a variety of structural design components, albeit everyone has a favourite. I like the residential, multiresidential and hospitality design work because of the intimacy of the involvement of the project.
What has been your favourite project thus far?
There have been many and the next always seems to supersede the previous. My favourite, though, is the renovation of a church designed by famous South African architect Gerard Moerdyk in the 1940s. The brief was to turn it into a residence, which was challenging but very rewarding on completion. National heritage council was consulted, plans approved and construction commenced.
Emphasis was placed on maintaining the tower and spire, using internal cladding as part of the more modern stations for the stairwell. The original church bell is now positioned in the double-volume main lobby as a part of the chandelier – a truly beautiful structure, the church is now a well-known landmark.
Who do you admire in terms of architecture and design?
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Oscar Niemeyer, and truly the list goes on – including many contemporary South African architects. Architects are people who create spaces, inspired by a universal need for basic shelter to more sophisticated structures. It is an art to interact in a prototypical built space that represents civil society and it makes me proud to be a part of this noble profession.
What do you think is the future of architecture in South Africa?
I believe we are at the forefront of architecture, with a generation of young up-and-coming, world-wise architects who push boundaries to benefit all. South African architects are respected worldwide and I have a lot of confidence for a dynamic future.
Visit evolvearch.co.za for more details.