Getting to know leading architect Lauren Bolus

We get up close with Lauren Bolus, from Fabian and MAKE Architects, about the current state of play in architecture whilst diving into single- and multi-residential spaces.

Firstly, how did Fabian and MAKE Architects become the practice you are today and what is your approach to your distinctive design style?

Fabian Architects has been around for over forty years and was founded by Dennis Fabian. My firm, MAKE Architects, merged with Fabian in 2015 to form a full-service practice covering commercial and large scale projects with private residential, hospitality, retail and interior design.

I’d say our design style is timeless, ensuring our designs have longevity. We create spaces that are contemporary, elegant, and honest in their materiality and attention to detail.

Trust and collaboration are vital in our relationships with our clients… magic happens when these form the foundation of the relationship.

In your opinion, what are the fundamentals for designing relaxed and nourishing homes that offer liveability?

Orientation and site sensitivity are key contributors to an inviting and comfortable space. Natural light, connection to outside spaces and open plan living are the fundamentals that inform our designs. We put great value into the experiential factor in our houses: the design must curate a special experience.

What is your latest design obsession?

We’ve recently been experimenting with curves, all kinds of delightful curves: concrete curves, interior wall curves, ceiling curves etc.

What is the key difference in your approach to single- and multi-residential projects?

In both, you consider the needs and preferences of the user but there is more collaboration with the client in single-residential projects. Single-residential also offers more privacy and space to the user whilst multi-residential is characterised by a sharing of spaces such as rooftop terraces, pools, parking and other communal spaces.

How do you experiment with a combination of finishes that offer texture and are visually striking?

The mixing of materials has become an important part of our architectural practice. We bring together different elements in pursuit of artistic expression and the result is architecture that is more thought-provoking and memorable.

Contrast is important and has become a part of our design ethos: layers of contrast elevate a design, transforming it from flat and boring to powerful and noticeable.

What is your go-to sustainable approach when it comes to designing homes?

We love renovating. The most sustainable principle is to maintain the existing structure. It sets parameters for the design and allows us to transform an existing building into something to celebrate.

Which of your current residential projects excites you the most and why?

We’re working on the interior architecture of Africa’s first biophilic multi-residential project called The Fynbos. Demolition of the existing Cape Town site has already begun, and we’re excited to watch the building come to life. What a thrill to see the blending of purist sustainability principles with iconic architecture and on-trend detailing.

Another multi-residential project that we’re thrilled about is The Rose on 117 situated on Cape Town’s Rose Street. We’ve seized the opportunity to replace a featureless light industrial building with one that adds exuberant energy to the local streetscape. We’re excited about this project because the architecture seeks to encourage hope and optimism through a colourful aluminium façade grid, presented in shades of pink, that are a nod to the site’s location on Rose Street and the colourful houses of the surrounding neighbourhood.

We have several single-residential projects in both Cape Town and Joburg that we’re also excited to be working on.

Are there any unique challenges that South African architects currently face when it comes to creating homes and what are the current design trends?
Loadshedding is a huge challenge and we now have to look at accommodating alternative energy sources – such as generators and solar panelling – in our projects.

Other challenges include sustainability and space: we’re constantly having to look at how buildings can be built more efficiently to be more sustainable and give more square footage to the user.

We’re also seeing the introduction of more sustainable solutions in architecture as a trend. Materiality also remains a key contributor to future trends and we’re seeing a lot more use of materials such as hemp and cork.

Production: J-P de la Chaumette
Photography & Renders: Supplied