Hopewell Conservation is a nature reserve situated within the Port Elizabeth metro area. The 2400ha reserve stretches from the Old Cape Road to the South and to Kwa Nobuhle to the North. Rights have been established to build 41 houses, 2 lodges, conference plus other support facilities within the reserve.

The Visitors Centre at Hopewell Conservation is a small multifunctional pavilion, situated at the entrance to the reserve. It is designed to reflect the architectural language of the planned amenities and houses within the reserve.

The program defines a greeting area, service kitchen, admin office, presentation space and ablutions. It is functionally simple.

The building is sited on the disturbed site of a ruined cottage on the farm. This minimised the need for site works, although a retaining wall was required to support the building platform. This retaining wall provides a solid base to the primary structure of the pavilion.

The pavilion consists of two components – a lightweight timber and steel frame that forms a gazebo or umbrella of shade for the served (public) space. The service component is housed in a solid masonry structure that is situated to the south and west of the served space. The two components intersect – combining stability with lightweight openness.

The solid service core is clad in stone resourced from the ruin of the original structure on the site. Effectively the earth of the site is modified to provide base to the pavilion and the resilient south and west walls. The SAPine roof and column system is finished with oils. This provides a natural looking, easily maintained finish – elevating this humble material. The contractor responded to the request to use site material in the polished concrete floor with dedication and professionalism. Site soil was graded, washed and mixed with cement to provide a floor that was intended to be a polished and refined version of the site itself. The result is a deep red earth floor that, as one proceeds from outside to inside, becomes more refined.

The structural steel frame is incorporated into the glazing system of the pavilion, and is concealed. The timber frame of the roof provides passive environmental control by spanning over the inset glass box and supporting a series of timber louvers and screens that shade the interior from east and west sunlight. The solid masonry of the service core offers thermal and structural stability. The building is completely off grid – provision has been made for the fitment of passive power, and heat generation will be installed when the building’s usage demands. Rainwater is collected and used for the maintenance of the surrounding landscape.

The pavilion is integrated with its site in a quid pro quo manner. The contours and existing platform determine the orientation of the building, but this allows the building to focus towards the site of the new residential node under development. This enables the function of the structure as a sales office.

The landscape responds to the building in return by terracing the level change between the road below and the building platform. The building platform is extended to the north, creating a large related flat area for large events. The landscape is planted with flora resourced from the reserve, providing an insight into its biodiversity.

Winner of the ECIA Architectural Award of Merit : 2013

Winner of the SAIA Architectural Award of Merit : 2014