South Africa was recently in the lime light when architect Jaco Booyens, based in Robertson, together with SAOTA, a leading firm of architects based in Cape Town, received gold for the prestigious 2020 Domus Restoration and Conservation Award, or International Prize For Architectural Restoration, that is hosted by the Italian company Fassa S.r.l. and the University of Ferrara.
On their website the commission of the Award explains that it “represents an important meeting point between the excellence in the field of restoration, redevelopment and architectural and landscape recovery at an international level”. The 73 participants that took part in the competition represented nearly all continents.
Booyens and SAOTA restored a collection of heritage buildings on Buffelsdrift Farm, which is situated west of Ladysmith in the Klein Karoo. In an interview on Die Groot Ontbyt (16 July 2020) Booyens explained his love for and involvement not only in architectural design, but also in the actual building process. This hands-on approach and his specific interest in how to use various building materials, helped him with the Buffelsdrift project. Booyens also outlined that since the buildings were built in 1852, various families have lived there and altered the original building, for example by extending the original stoep and changing the thatched roof to a corrugated iron roof. Booyens and the rest of the team restored the buildings to honour the empathy the original homestead had with its surroundings and by using traditional building techniques and material.