Register to comment and receive news in your inboxRegister or Log in

Passion, resilience, and adaptability ensure the architectural firm’s 80-year longevity

GIBB subsidiary and architectural firm, SVA International’s 80-year celebration comes at a time of unprecedented turmoil, both locally and globally. Not only is the business thriving within this challenging milieu, it’s passion, agility and willingness to embrace change and the spirit of Ubuntu, have seen it weather many a storm over the years.

Bheki Vilakazi

The firm was established in 1943 as Stauch and Partners by influential Ittenschulle-trained (an offshoot of the Bauhaus) architect, Hellmut Stauch, who was a leading teacher and practitioner in the Pretoria Regionalism movement (architecture that takes the context and customs of making buildings in a particular region into account) during the 1940s and ‘50s.

Stauch’s output initially focused on residential developments, but in 1959 he was joined by Robin Vorster. They changed the company’s name to Stauch Vorster Architects and began operating as a franchise business, with offices in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Mauritius.

The firm was well positioned to take on projects in the retail, commercial and industrial spaces and larger commissions followed. With projects influenced by Modernism, the Brazilian movement, a strict concern for local conditions, economy of materials and efficient function, Stauch Vorster Architects grew into a leading national practice.

In 2014, the firm merged with GIBB Engineering and amalgamated all franchise operations into one business: SVA International (SVAi).

SVAI Managing Director, Bheki Vilakazi, says the two entities merged with a view to leveraging off one another to explore opportunities in South Africa and further afield on the continent.

“Our success today is not only measured by the projects we have successfully completed, but by the lasting relationships we have established with many leading developers, built environment specialists, project financiers and contractors over the past 80 years.”

GIBB CEO, Richard Vries, says that when the business first welcomed SVAi into the Group, the synergies were evident. “They shared our values, our vision for the future, and a passion for excellence, which we knew would benefit our clients, consultants, and employees. Over the past 13 years, SVAi has proven to be an invaluable part of our organisation, and we are proud to have them as a member of our family of companies.

“By working together, we have been able to combine our strengths and expertise, leading to innovative solutions and better outcomes for our stakeholders. We have been able to share resources, best practices, and knowledge, enabling us to tackle challenges that we could not have done on our own,” he adds.

Today, the business boasts several flagship developments for many key clients, such as Shoprite Checkers and Radisson Blu Hotels, amongst others. It is financially viable and incorporates timeless designs, and functionality.

Looking forward, Vries says SVAi is well placed to continue thriving in a rapidly changing world. “SVAi complements the GIBB Group in our ability to provide multi-disciplinary solutions across the property, mining, power, transportation, and water sectors. We are committed to investing in its growth, supporting its innovation, and ensuring it has the resources it needs to continue to be a leader in the industry.”

Vilakazi concludes: “I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of SVAi over the past 80 years. Their dedication and commitment to excellence are inspirational and we look forward to many more years of success and making a positive impact in the industry.”