From Contours to Culture

Cultivating the future at the DALRRD

Where does an architect begin when asked to capture the qualities that the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) is built on? Integrated development, food security, and sustainable agriculture – this is the mission that the Department strives towards achieving. For Boogertman + Partners, the answer to this challenge lay in using the celebration of our landscape and the determination of our culture to create the winner of the Office Architecture Award at the 2023-2024 African Property Awards, which can house the prosperity of South Africa far into the future.


In the making

Investing more than a decade into an evolving brief, Boogertman + Partners were tasked to imagine and realise the new DALRRD head office as more than simply an inanimate building; it needed to be a home for its people and their diverse cultures. Emerging as an awe-inspiring structure, the building appropriately finds itself in South Africa’s capital city, Pretoria. It stands confidently as a landmark, claiming space and emphasising the magnitude of the Department’s importance for the future of the country.


A canvas of contours

The distinct HQ subtly mimics the curve of its topographical neighbour, the Apies River, while taking cognisance of the need to integrate with the historical features of the site that had to be retained. The setting is a classic depiction of our country’s diverse environment, the bustling city in the foreground and the Magaliesberg mountain range as the exquisite background. As an immediate extension of the focus on agriculture, the site’s gardens are accessible to the public as demonstration gardens for sustainable livelihoods. The gardens feature a selection of local crops, vegetables, and fruits that border the architectural boundary. These speak of our heritage and the surrounding environment while maintaining biodiversity, which contributes to the building’s well-earned Green Star Rating.


Binding visual and vision

For design inspiration, Boogertman + Partners not only channelled the focus of the Department’s purpose, but also pursued the integration of the beauty of our country’s diverse cultural scene. Exterior nodes and interior forms rise and fall like the curves of the mountain ranges that distinguish our landscape. The dazzling façade is undoubtedly made marvellous by its metallic glimmer and glass surfaces while keeping a link to the terrain with the use of bronze earth tones.. The patterned design that envelopes the bronze façade clearly reflects the natural local landscape, combining the silhouettes of mountain ranges from across our nine provinces.  Achieved through a pointillism style, small holes were punched into the aluminium to complete the design, arranged in patterns that represent beadwork, weaving, and basketry. Thus, agronomy is integrated with traditional customs at a monumental scale, exemplifying what the DALRRD strives to achieve – unity that transcends the boundaries of the land.


As a final tie-in between the visual and vision, the interior architecture and design are also simplified to celebrate what is at the heart of the Department.  The interior cladding resembles peaks and valleys, ceilings feature geographical topography, the foyer hosts a bold green wall adorned with vertical plants, and vibrant textile patterns that speak of African crafts are integrated onto the wallpaper as a representation for the cultures of the community.

In considering a future where agriculture, landscape, and architecture can collaborate to achieve an inclusive and supportive world of tomorrow, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development head office facilitates future-forward design. In doing so, a department crucial to the life of our landscape (and consequently our people) is able to create an environment where endeavours become successes and every challenge is met with resilient adaptability.

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