WAN House of the year 2007 winner Kevin Fellingham talks about his elevated status...
Since winning the prestigious WAN House of the Year Award last year with his House “J” against stiff competition from 25 countries, South African architect Kevin Fellingham’s life has moved up a gear. He talks to WAN’s Michael Hammond about the impact of the award:
Kevin was remarkably composed when I met him in London this week considering his office had just been burgled and all his computers had been stolen. “Luckily we had most of the data backed up,” he shrugged in between frantic calls from his office, “but it’s still a huge blow.”
Moving onto house “J” I asked what effect the win had made on Kevin. “One immediate difference was my standing with clients. If I suggest grey stone paving on edge, now they just nod in agreement, ‘whatever you say Kevin.’ Whereas before there may have been a debate."
Kevin got a commission the day after winning the award. The project was already in discussion but the award tipped the scales. Two book publishers, DAAB and Rockport have since approached him about featuring his work. Currently based in London, Kevin has reached celebrity status back home in Cape Town as he coyly admitted, “The Cape Institute for Architecture are running guided tours through the house.”
So what were the attributes that made House “J” a winner? Well it wasn’t the latest technological innovations. In fact House “J” is remarkably low tech and devoid of any techno wizardry. “We paid a lot of attention to detail, orienting the house to take advantage of the tremendous views was a big part.” This aspect was clearly a success with the outside converging with the inside to create the all important “wow” factor from different aspects. “Most of the construction was regular concrete block and plaster which made it even more rewarding for us as designers.”
On a wider note, Kevin praised WAN for being “open minded” and for judging designs purely on merit and not being tainted by “old school” prejustices, unfortunately still too prevalent in much of the traditional media. As one of the founders of WAN I can say it was one of our core ambitions to by-pass the historic Ivory Towers of the established media journals... Kevin, “I still can’t get used to seeing my name on the same page as Norman Foster.”
The WAN 2008 House of the year will be launched soon...