When well-known architectural designer Nicolette Lloyd and her late husband Ambrose came to Hermanus 37 years ago from London for what would initially have been a period of three years, she had no idea that this coastal town would become her ‘forever’ home.

Nicolette Lloyd with her Jack Russel, Mungo in front of her studio on Station Square. It forms part of the heritage property at 32 Mitchell Street which she owns and has remodelled to include several offices and shops such as the Book Cottage and the Honey Shop.

At the time, Nicolette’s parents had retired to Hermanus and the idea was for Ambrose to join them in setting up a new business manufacturing kites. As for Nicolette, who had studied interior architecture at the Royal College of London, working as a woman in this male-dominated field was at first no easy task.

“The structure of patriarchal hierarchy in Hermanus was well established and no one was going to take instructions from a woman, never mind an Anglicised one,” Nicolette remembers with a smile. Despite these challenges, she says, in other ways Hermanus was never your typical South African seaside village. “As an international destination, it always had a cosmopolitan ambience, with an ever-growing microcosm of professionals who chose to live and work here.”

Nicolette with her team of architectural professionals: Leon Smith, André Snyders, Riaan Venter and Joubert Fick.

Hermanus gets much of its character from the amalgam of buildings in the town’s business centre, and the urban flow through town. “That is the most obvious way in which a town expresses itself; it determines how a town ‘feels’ and gives it a sense place. That’s why new buildings must be in sympathy with their surroundings and remain sensitive to the essence of Hermanus.”

Having served on the Overstrand Heritage conservation bodies from their inception, Nicolette has a particular interest in the conservation and repurposing of heritage buildings. At the same time, however, she views this as a dynamic and not a static process. “We must look to the future and allow for growth without being too restrictive,” she says.

Among the many aspects that have to be taken into consideration when designing a building are the client’s brief, the locality of the site, the climate, the ecology, the vernacular. “And the vocabulary,” she adds. “Every building is a cultural artefact that tells a story.”

Her studio, Nicolette Lloyd Architectural Designs, established in the early 1980s, specialises mainly in residential projects – both new and adapted buildings. Her success over the years in design and management of building projects can be ascribed to her creativity, empathy, organisational skills and, above all, her nearly four decades of local knowledge and experience.

“I am fortunate to be working with a dynamic studio consisting of a number of architectural professionals offering a range of skills and expertise in a well-established team. We are thus able to offer full professional services from project inception and feasibility analysis through to contract administration and certification processes,” says Nicolette.

“We are very concerned that our buildings should be site specific, and should exhibit innovative design solutions in the modelling of domestic and commercial spaces. We also have a particular interest in the utilisation of contemporary technologies, including the conservation of water and energy with particular reference to aspect and micro-climatic conditions.”

In order to fully answer their clients’ brief, Nicolette and her team seek to develop a responsive, empathetic relationship with their clients, allowing them space for their own voice in the creative act of designing and constructing their building. Examples of the firm’s architectural projects can be found in and around Hermanus, from residential homes and accommodation establishments such as Die Vishuis in Hope Street, the M Hotel in Onrus and One Marine Drive Boutique Guesthouse in Westcliff, to the Hemelrand Winery in Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge and the new Hermanus NSRI station building in the New Harbour.

Nicolette Lloyd Architectural Designs is a member of the South African Council for the Architectural Profession, the Cape Institute of Architecture, the Vernacular Architectural Society of South Africa, and the Overstrand Heritage & Aesthetics Committee.
You’ll find their offices at 32 Mitchell Street, Hermanus. Contact 028 312 3771 or lloydn@hermanus.co.za.

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