As the legislative capital of South Africa, Cape Town is also the oldest city in the country – and affectionately known by locals as "the Mother City". The most popular geographical feature in Cape Town is undoubtedly Table Mountain, with its impressive cliffs and flat-topped summit reaching over 1 km high. Joined by Devil's Peak and Lion's Head on either side, the mountain forms a dramatic design which encloses the central area of the city, known as City Bowl.
Known as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Cape Town is also home to various attractions and is famous for its architectural heritage, even though South Africa's architectural history is quite young (compared with Europe, for instance). The city sports the highest density of Cape Dutch-style structures in the world, for example. In addition, one can also explore various Cape Malay homes (by Malay builders heavily influenced by our local building styles), Victorian houses (especially in the older suburbs like Stellenbosch and Franschhoek), and urban-style residences, particularly in the inner city where lots of warehouses and industrial apartment spaces are popping up.
Although interior architects often get grouped together with interior designers and decorators, they take on a bigger responsibility than making a room/space aesthetically pleasing. Practicality and beauty are definitely key terms that they focus on, but they must also understand the structure of a building to ensure it is safe and functional. That is why they specialise in the designing and building of interiors for safety, functionality and visual aesthetics.
Interior architects possess a vast amount of knowledge, including the durability and strength of various building materials, the local building regulations (to ensure their designs are correct and up to code), how light and colours affect the practicality and functionality of a space, etc. Interior architects can work in both the residential- and commercial industries and draft plans or create/refine spaces for clients. During a project, whether it's to renovate a house or build a brand-new office building, they may work in close contact with other professionals such as architects, interior designers, and construction managers.
Interior architects will form part of a construction-, building- or remodelling project from start to finish.
Their job usually starts with a client meeting to discuss the expectations of the project. After listening to what the client needs and wants from their space, the interior architect begins to draft design plans. These are meant to illustrate the placement of doors, windows, plumbing, electrical systems, structural accents, and possibly even furnishings. Like architects and interior designers, they make use of computer-aided design (CAD) software and building information modelling (BIM).
For the duration of a project, an interior architect will work closely with the client and other experts to ensure the building / renovation proceeds as smoothly as possible via regular meetings, frequent site visits, etc.
Not many people would name architecture as one of the culprits when it comes to environmental degradation. And yet, residential- and commercial structures are responsible for about one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. And as the population continues to grow, the problem could only become worse.
This places great importance on the role of interior architects, for they play a major part in the design choices that affect the sustainable performance of a building, especially during the early design stages. Simply by specifying the materials and finishes of a structure can they address some of the biggest environmental impacts faced today.
Originally, architects, interior architects and interior designers primarily focused on meeting a client's aesthetic and functional needs for a project. Nowadays, professionals are choosing to include sustainable materials on their own, for they have realised the wealth of opportunities and benefits that result.
With sustainable design becoming the trend, the focus expands to include environmental considerations and human wellbeing. By using sustainable materials, the environmental impact of living- and working spaces are lowered. And during the past decade, the growing need for sustainable materials has been positively reflected by the changing market.
Some well-known examples of sustainable building materials include:
As they are trained to work with building codes and –materials, interior architects are aware of the various rules and regulations that accompany a building / renovating project, particularly since different regions, towns and cities can have their own laws regarding construction.
Bear in mind that the climate can also differ considerably from one region to another (think of how Cape Town's Mediterranean climate and winter rainfall compares with the rest of the country), which also influences the products, materials and finishes that a local interior architect will opt to use for a project.
In addition, using an interior architect in Cape Town, for instance, for a project in the same vicinity will also mean your professional will put you in contact with other experts in the same region; thus, cancelling out additional expenses for travel and accommodation.