A small, dark room in a Braamfontein alley is opening spaces and places for lovers of architecture and design.
The Boiler Room is part of the Alive Architecture initiative, located down an alley just off Melle Street, opposite the Neighbourgoods Market. It serves as a space for architecture students and upcoming architects to showcase their work at no cost.
In the first six weeks of its opening, the room had over 1200 visitors, and is becoming known as a space for innovation according to the owners.
Alive Architecture as an architectural gallery was developed in September 2011 and it now has a home in Braamfontein in as of December 2013. The studio that now houses this innovative space is about 25 square metres is a small dark room. The space has a boiler for the building, which is above it in one corner, hence its name The Boiler Room.
The owner Pieter-Ernst Maré – along with Simon Cretney – says that the room caters specifically for students, upcoming architects and designers because this group does not get the chance to showcase as much as developed designers and architects.
“We felt that the smaller designers don’t get enough exposure to the general public,” said Maré.
Maré says that when the concept was drawn up in 2011 there weren’t many showrooms that were available for these marginalised groups to showcase their work for free.
Maré, who is a blogger and architect, says they look at proposals for the use of the space and choose a variety of ideas so the public can get a range of skills, trades and art exhibited in the space.
“We really don’t mind what our tenants do with the space – as long as we get it back like we gave it to them, so that the next exhibitor can step in and showcase with the minimum of fuss and expense in setting themselves up,” said Maré.
He said that many people do not understand the architecture industry. The Alive Architecture initiatives through The Boiler Room aims to educate the public about the work that goes into designing homes and work spaces.
Maré says the initiative wants to show that “architecture isn’t just about keeping water out of a space, that landscape architecture is not about picking the right petunia colour and that interior architecture is not about scatter cushions and curtains”. It’s an exploration of materials, ideas and philosophies that translate into a space, he says.
Maré says they hope to expand and showcase South African talent in other parts of the country in the near future.