Top Durban architectural photographer, Dennis Guichard wins prestigious Qatar contract

Durban-based architectural photographer Dennis Guichard has recently won a prestigious contract to travel and shoot an extensive image stock library showcasing the ‘best of Qatar’ for the Qatar Financial Centre Authority in Doha, Qatar. Officially the richest country on earth, with phenomenal natural gas and oil reserves, Qatar has earmarked an incredible US$130bn to spend on infrastructure and building projects in the ten years leading up to their hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The magnitude of the preparations is already influencing economic developments with many of the world’s signature architectural and engineering practices now located in Doha working on prestigious projects including a new international airport, new roads and infrastructure, some 200 new hotels and 12 fully enclosed air-conditioned stadia to host the World Cup.

One of the many awe-inspiring mega-projects currently under construction in Doha is the 35km2 Lusail City which will ultimately provide accommodation for up to 250,000 people. It has marinas, residential areas, island resorts, commercial districts, luxury shopping and leisure facilities, including two golf courses and an entertainment district. It will also house the iconic new 86,250-seat Lusail Stadium (designed by Foster + Partners Architects), which will host the opening and final matches of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Amongst many in Qatar Dennis will be shooting projects for the likes of ARUP Engineers, Foster + Partners Architects, HOK Architects, Gensler Architects, John McAslan + Partners Architects, Woods Bagot Architects, Jean Nouvel Architect, Squire + Partners Architects, and others.

Locally Dennis’s clients include the likes of Elphick Proome Architects, Kevin Lloyd Architect, GOBA Engineers, Brettenwood Coastal Estate, the KZNIA, Evolution Architects, and others.

Dennis has over 20-years post-graduate experience worldwide with Diploma’s in Architecture and Project Management. His photography has featured in and on the covers of numerous prestigious publications worldwide including the National Newspaper (Dubai), Abu Dhabi Week (Abu Dhabi), Middle East Architect (Dubai), Emirates Construction (Dubai), Simply Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi), STERN magazine (Germany), Earthworks magazine (South Africa), VISI magazine (South Africa), PIX photography magazine (South Africa), Leading Architecture magazine (South Africa) and Architectural Record magazine (the official magazine of the American Institute of Architects in the USA). 




3 Glass Gems

Apart from the exposure to particular experts who I would never normally meet, the chance to mingle with peers over beautifully displayed excess of food is another reason I enjoy a good conference! Its the idea of “learn something” and “live a little” conveniently combined.

The recent SAGGA conference at the Elangeni in Durban was no exception. We were treated to some inspiring architectural innovators, some impressively knowledgeable technical experts and some excellent catering.

There was a lot to take in, so here are a few gems I picked out:

1.       It can get very technical

The SA glass industry has become a lot more sophisticated in the last year as have the building codes, which means that specifying glazing is no mean feat. Knowing a little about everything, and knowing where to go for the right advice is key.

2.       The value of collaboration and communication

It goes beyond just specifications: glazing engineers can be useful too. They can even become your favourites on the project team, as confessed by Derick Henstra of DHK.

I asked Amandus Sattler, how he handled an office of 60 people and still managed to produce such conceptually and technically thorough buildings, such as the Herz Jesu Kirche in Munich.  Would it not just be easier to keep it small and hands-on, ala Glen Murcutt? Not at all, he replied. His experience of ideas is that they are always more useful when shared.

Sharing ideas and vision is not easy and the ability of an architect to communicate their concept and vision to their team is vital, as is the team’s ability to communicate back. Sattler must be a very articulate man, when he speaks German that is. He had us chucking as he mentally wrestled the English language.

Tower Docks, Mestre, Italy by DHK: Any glazing specialist who can handle this deserves kudos!

DHK’s Laguna Palace Hotel, Italy: With 13 000m2 of roof area, of which 8000m2 is glass, this is one of the largest in Europe.

Boxes: the outer one glazed.

Front doors open to include and welcome those on the piazza.

Interior light is filtered through timber panels.

Above: Herz Jesu Kirche: Conceptually thorough on so many levels. For more images click here

3.       Use the recession to your advantage

Upskilling, entering competitions and playing around are useful ways to spend your time when work is slow. Amandus Sattler would not have built the Herz Jesu Kirche had he not taken the chance with a competition.

Henning Rasmuss, of Paragon Architects, also stressed the importance of having the time to be playful in projects: trying new things, putting ideas out there, and learning new computer rendering skills.

Paragon Architects: Alice Lane Towers

Paragon Architects: Jupiter Drawing Room offices

Above: Playful buildings in Joburg by Paragon Architects

After a full day of presentations there were definitely many reasons to be optimistic about the future of glass in SA. I dare say the glass is clearly half full!

Excuse my corniness!


For more on the conference speakers click here.

For some links to glazing legislation, as well as aluminium and other products click here.

For some free glass-calculation tools recommended by speaker Andreas Landman of PFG [ click here ].

*SAGGA stands for South African Glass and Glazing Association

A glassy gathering

Hugh Fraser, that guy from Glass South Africa who gets to travel round the world looking at buildings, was in town last night for an architectural evening at the beachfront.

About 60 or so people arrived at the Marine Surf Lifesaving Club (otherwise known as “The building with the tiles” or “Koop’s building”) for sundowners overlooking the beach, followed by some high-speed slides. Hugh has developed a special manner of presentation which involves speeding through photos of buildings. The photos seem to be taken on continuous shutter release, and so it reads more like a film than a slideshow, accompanied by his provocative narrative. “He is wonderfully fun,” commented one viewer.

We were treated to a dynamic set of presentations; the first covered the latest in glass printing technology as well as innovative techniques in glass from around the world while the second was all about travelling and spectacular architecture.

I left with a refreshed and inspired perspective on glass, and a niggling feeling of wanderlust.

(Sigh! Thank goodness the weekend is upon us!)

Kevin Bingham (KZNIA Education Chair), Nina Saunders (KZNIA President), Hugh Fraser (Glass South Africa), Angela Forbes and Trish Emmett (UIA).

It begins with you

Rosalie Manning & Bharti Vithal (KZNIA Vice President)

Rosalie Manning, SAIA’s transformation consultant, paid the KZNIA a visit on Friday 29th July, to present SAIA’s strategy for transformation as well as touch on a few other issues affecting this complex challenge to our country.

We filled up most of the chairs in the room as she walked us through the slides, with pockets of discussion happening at intervals. On the whole she was optimistic, and I tend to agree: its a big task but there are ways to make something of it.

Some of the issues that came up (among others) were:

  • Standards of education in schools: with many learners getting a below-average education, the chances of them coping with an architectural degree, let alone making it through postgrad, are slim.
  • Some ways to get involved in building school-learners’ competencies: giving time to schools to teach chess, annual competitions around these competencies & school holiday programs around architecture.
  • SETA: the profession has a role to play here and various options exist.
  • The role of SACAP and SAIA in this landscape
  • Politically, if we are to act as a body we need a gateway: speaking to the right people in government. A lack of support from SACAP does not help here, and we will need to find ways around this.
  • There were also some interesting fact sheets on the SA demographics and the architectural professions’ demographics and the disparity between them (I will try get hold of these and post later).
  • The current recession plays a role in the profession’s activity in society and this must also not be underestimated.

If we all always assume its someone else’s responsibility then nothing will change.

Much to think about… what are YOUR thoughts? Feel free to comment below.

An edgy evening on the Ridge

We had a very unusual evening last Wednesday night. Firstly we had 3 fabulous Spanish architects in town*: Elena Rocchi, Angelo Bucci and Claudio Vekstein. Then we had sundowners and eats on a dramatic venue on the Berea Ridge in Durban (thanks to design workshop for the incredible space). And then there was a lunar eclipse. How could it not be memorable?

My favourite comments from attendees:

“It is wonderful to see so many architects attending such honest and passionate presentations.”

“This house should be in a film.”

(A South African reminder of the US Case Study Houses perhaps?)

Many thanks must go to the Cement and Concrete Institute for bringing the speakers out, and to NPC Cement & Cimpor for their generous sponsorship of the drinks tab. The red wine went down so well with the chilly winter evening.

*They were here for the 3rd International Design Masterclass themed “On the Edge”, conducting the studio along with local architects Peter Rich and Andrew Makin. For more pics, see our facebook album [ click this link ]

design workshop : sa site on the Ridge


Cimpor, who took care of the warming red wine and other sundowners.

Elena Rocchi

Andrew Makin, Angelo Bucci, Elena Rocchi, Claudio Vekstein and Peter Rich


Issy Benjamin’s talk at UKZN today went down a treat. A springy old man of 85, he has humour, sincerity and, despite avoiding AutoCAD completely (as well as powerpoint), is still very much in touch and enlightened in his perspective.

One thing he stressed the importance of was to “jump jump jump at every opportunity”. And to keep jumping, because it’s difficult to tell what exactly the opportunity is, or where it will lead! His own career is a testament to opportunities embraced with a wholesome optimism.

More photos can be found on our facebook album by [ clicking this link ]

Don’t forget to see the Crofton and Benjamin Exhibition at the KZNSA, running until 29 May, which can only enrich and inspire.

Issy on far left, and next to him, Nina Saunders

Yes, he is using an overhead projector!

Awaiting the lecture venue, Issy got busy


Exhibition: The Work of Crofton & Benjamin Architects: 1955 –1964

Very excited about Issy Benjamin coming to town. Very excited!
The Croftton & Benjamin exhibition will be up at the KZNSA for the next 3 weeks from 12 to 30th May, and it is unlike any architectural exhibition I have seen. Check it out for yourselves and see why Issy Benjamin, “the architects’s architect” is my archi-hero.

You’ll also discover why Crofton & Benjamin are receiving an Honorary Life Membership to the KZNIA.

FarringdonMore on the goings-on, including his Friday talk, on our website:


Courtesy of Roshan Ramroop

We held a very well-attended course last Friday: the SANS 10400:  Building Regulations For Dummies, presented By Bruce Clark. Roshan Ramroop found a lighter side of the course and shared this caricature. Thanks Roshan!

The SANS 10400 Workshop will be available on the CCN website for those who missed it.

For more latest news of the SANS 10400 from the KZNIA, see Mike Backler’s reports by [ clicking here ].