Congratulations to the Winning SA Finalists of the World Architecture Festival 2022


The World Architecture Festival has been bringing the global architecture community together in different cities around the world for over a decade since its launch in 2008. Annually, the event welcomes thousands of architects, landscape architects, interior designers, and suppliers to celebrate their achievements, learn from their peers and discover innovative products and services.

Last year the three day festival was hosted in Lisbon, Portugal, from 30 November to 2 December. With 45 category winners, architects, designers and creatives from across the world took home coveted awards for completed buildings, future projects, landscapes and interiors, in categories ranging from the best health, sports and office buildings, to architectural photography and ‘the best use of colour’.

At the heart of the festival is a dynamic live-judged awards programme. It is the only awards where designers pitch their work to a panel of expert judges and their peers – all live at the festival!

Congratulations to South African architecture firms, URBA Architects and Urban Designers, and Noero Architects, on their winning WAF 2022 Finalist Projects

Sol Plaatje University Auditorium by URBA Architects and Urban Designers

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Images courtesy of URBA Architects and Urban Designers

Location: Kimberley, Northern Cape

Category: WAF Completed Buildings – Higher Education and Research 

Status: Category Winner, Day Two Winners, Entrant, Shortlist 

Architect: URBA Architects and Urban Designers

Lead Architects: Henri Comrie (holistic) and Amálie Comrie (detail)

Technical team: Amalie Comrie and Etienne Britz

Completed: 2021 

The auditorium building and associated uses is located on a new university campus in South Africa’s hot and dry Northern Cape Province. The commission was won through an open design competition that called for culturally and environmentally appropriate responses within a tightly controlled area. The triangular, external envelope of the building is derived from a rigorous urban design framework that facilitates cohesion and supports people-oriented placemaking.

The resourceful, solid, and abstract design of the building mirrors the domestic vernaculars of the region by which the minimalist mass of even the smallest solid structures, typically made of stacked stone to shield from the harsh climate, providing cool interiors. The building is a metaphoric ‘cool cave’ that allows students to continue with the important task of learning despite extreme climatic conditions outside.

External openings of varying size are carved into the solid brick envelope to invite optimal natural light into the building and to guide the movement of students into it. On its southern façade, the bold treatment of the sheer, vertical brick plane acts as headboard that holds the shortest end of an intimate, shaded court as well as casting much needed shade over it. The other buildings that frame the court present a more permeable interface within a balanced, total space.

The hollowing out of the minimalist brick mass within the total envelope provided opportunities for the plastic articulation of space and for the controlled use of natural light. The three-dimensional sculpting of the interior provides a variety of pause-and-breakaway spaces located at different, yet visually connected levels. Whilst the crust off the building is made of flush-jointed clay brick, the interior is made of rendered while walls and off-shutter concrete to allow for the infusion of the spaces with natural light that migrates through it to create moods linked to season and the time of day.

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The minimalist planes of either solid brick externally and white or béton-brut internally acts as a backdrop or frame for the installation of more finely crafted or colourful elements that are contrasted against it or set into it. This brings a playful quality to the building which is located in a total environment that already blossoms with youthful optimism and the joys of student life.

The judges were impressed by the project’s ‘combination of order and restraint’, describing it as a ‘building that cannot but lift the spirit of all who use it’.

Denis Goldberg House of Hope by Noero Architects

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© noero architects. Image by Paris Brummer

Location: Hout Bay, Cape Town

Category: WAF Completed Buildings – Civic and Community 

Status: Category Winner, Day One Winners, Entrant, Shortlist 

Architect: Noero Architects

Completed: 2022 

Denis Goldberg, a revered figure in South African liberation politics, was the only white person sentenced to life imprisonment at the infamous Rivonia Trial in 1963, which also saw Nelson Mandela and other leaders of the African National Congress sentenced to life imprisonment and banished to Robben Island.

Denis eventually retired to Hout Bay in 2002, and devoted the remainder of his life to supporting youth development through the arts, which culminated in the Denis Goldberg House of Hope. The new centre is in a beautiful, treed site surrounded by heritage buildings including the Hout Bay History Museum.

The area used for the new building is at the back of the site on an existing double tennis court. The building has been designed as an open building – small and large spaces are tucked beneath a covered walkway open to the site on all sides. The largest space accommodates an exhibition of Denis Goldberg`s life, his art collection, a learning space, and a mezzanine area for a library and archive which is spatially connected to the space below.

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© noero architects. Image by Paris Brummer

The judges praised the simply executed use of existing buildings with new insertions. What stood out to the judges was the ‘simplicity of the project and the complexity of its response’.

Next year, the World Architecture Festival 2023 will be hosted in Singapore, from the 29th November to 1st December. Excitingly, early award entry registrations are now open, could your firm be winning finalists then?

Register your firm’s proudest feat for nomination at WAF 2023 on

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