In Conversation with Andrew Payne

Drew Architects Benoni 007

Danger Point, Black House, and Upside Down House – it might sound like a wild residential ride, but this is the speciality of Andrew Payne and his team at Drew Architects. Taking tailored designs and integrating them carefully into the landscape, Andrew’s practice is built on a passion for generating a personal impact through every home that materialises from the pages of his blueprints. We were fortunate enough to grab a few moments of Andrew’s time between sketches and site visits to find out what innovations are on his radar, what collaboration looks like in the practice, and what the conversation would sound like if structures could speak.

Which innovative new materials are you most excited about at the moment?

3D printing has always sparked excitement within me and the Drew team. Its potential to unlock a realm of possibilities within the design industry is truly remarkable. Not only does it enhance the efficiency of construction processes, but it also streamlines the transition from concept to reality. The capability for producing uniquely intricate designs with pinpoint accuracy, minimal material wastage, and seamless communication across all involved teams is groundbreaking. It forms a link between a modern society that moves forward at breakneck speeds and a timeless profession that is tailored to cater to the needs of humanity. When utilised effectively, 3D printing is revolutionising our inherently organic industry, and we’re enthusiastically embracing this wave of innovation.

andrew payne photo credit Adam Letch
Andrew Payne portrait 1

How do you approach collaboration in your practice, for example when working in conjunction with migs + drew?

I’m a firm believer that if you put like-minded creatives together with shared passions and values, a shared work ethic, and a singular objective, that magic can happen. My primary company, drew, was founded 15 years ago in Joburg and migs + drew was born 10 years ago out of a 2014 Stellenbosch design competition collaboration with a like-minded UCT university friend, Miguel Ferreira da Silva. It was born from our mutual passions: beautiful, considered buildings and pristine natural environments, primarily focussed on interventions in magnificent, unspoiled natural landscapes across the country and continent (and soon the world). We are creatives, so we revel in every opportunity to stretch our minds and flex our creative muscles!

migs drew collaboration on Cabine du Cap

If you could have a conversation with any building(s) in the world, which would you choose and why?

It would probably be Barcelona Pavilion or Fallingwater, or locally, House Press on the Coromandel Estate… a few of my favourite buildings. The conversation would be about timelessness. Built in 1929, 1936, and 1974 respectively, they are, in my opinion, as relevant, appropriate, and appealing today as they were the day they were built: the true test of good, responsible design. The gravity of our responsibility as built environment specialists is significant and we should use this privilege to drive rigorous processes and well considered and detailed responses.

We’ve noticed that you love a porthole. Is there a story behind this attraction?

The porthole simply emerged on Black House as the perfect solution to the arrival and proved a playful but very successful balancing tool to contrast all the rectilinear geometry of the building’s frame and form. We fell in love with it as a device and have successfully used it on a few subsequent buildings. The curved line provides a less severe softness.

Drew Architects Benoni 023
the start of the porthole photo credit Adam Letch

What is your most exciting build to date?

I read an interview with an architect once in which he said that being asked to name one’s favourite building was akin to asking a parent which of their children was their favourite, and I agree wholeheartedly with this. Being so close to each of our buildings for so long, I know every facet of them and see both perfection and flaws in all of them. It’s for both these reasons I love each one of them so much. I am very proud of my team and excited by what we have been able to achieve to date, and also very excited about a number of buildings we currently have on site and about the epic opportunities I know are just around the corner!

This article is an extract from our April volume, click here to read the follow volume!

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