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Africa Outlook

Architecture
South Africa
Cape Town
Design

VIVID ARCHITECTS

Mastering the Architectural Craft

Characterised by an ethos of excellence and dedication, Vivid Architects has been maximising customer satisfaction for more than two decades 

Writer: Jonathan Dyble

Project Manager: Eddie Clinton

Situated in central Cape Town and standing as a commercial architecture practice that specialises in large scale offices, hotels, residential buildings and alike, Vivid Architects celebrated a milestone 20th anniversary in March of this year.

Having won numerous commercial property awards across a number of sectors since its inception, the current scale of the business now seems a far cry from its exceptionally humble beginnings back in 1998.

“We started Vivid Architects in the spare bedroom of Trevor’s small semi-detached house in Gardens, Cape Town,” says Paolo Viotti, one of three Directors at the Company, alongside Trevor Versfeld and Imraan Ho-Yee.

“It was rather a mad and brave decision to make at the time as South Africa headed into its biggest recession to date. But we were armed with very good postgraduate experience in the business of architecture, a thorough knowledge of how to design and put together a commercial building, and a dream of creating a successful practice.”

To this day, this dream remains at the forefront of the Company’s culture, largely reflected in the high standards that Vivid has maintained throughout its portfolio, treating each and every project as an opportunity to not only showcase its capabilities, but better them.

“We don’t see ourselves as ‘prima donna’ architects, but rather as a strong competent design practice,” explains Viotti. “We acknowledge that we do not know everything in this profession and that we can all make mistakes from time to time, but it is how we manage this and improve our service that is crucial.”

This outlook is evidently expressed through the implementation of post project reviews, analysing the successes and challenges of each build from inception to completion. In doing so, Vivid has been better able to critique its own work, whilst also advising its consultancy teams and client bodies themselves.

“You’re only as good as your last project, and it is this reputation that we believe has ensured our ongoing growth and sustainability for the practice,” Viotti adds.

Exemplary ethos

For Vivid, success has continued to be encompassed by an emphasis on quality not quantity. Long term, the Company’s primary goal is to master its craft rather than expanding as broadly as possible – a core value that Viotti is quick to highlight.

“Our objective is not to grow our business beyond a medium sized architecture practice, but to grow our efficiency, competency, creativity and profitability,” he states.

There is a real sense of this throughout the business’s day to day operations, working out of an open plan office in central Cape Town that facilitates collaboration and allows creativity to flow throughout Vivid’s close knit team of experts.

In doing so, the business is able to leverage a range of insights, ideas and knowledge in the planning of each and every project, whilst also allowing its staff to both perform to their highest potential and enjoy the opportunity for substantial personal development.

“We encourage ‘a share to teach’ attitude where knowledge and experience is always sitting close to you and available on a personal level or in an organised larger formal workshop gathering,” Viotti adds. “We find this form of teaching and knowledge building is key to creating a sustainable and fun team atmosphere.

“Our business is conservatively run, and we are very fortunate to have a loyal, talented and highly efficient team that work with us, many of whom have been with us for over 10 years.”

Over time, the Vivid team has developed a real understanding of the science of commercial architecture, recognising and satisfying the balance between delivering award winning projects with client viability, set budgets, ongoing cost control and associated technical requirements.

In search of opportunity

Vivid’s home of Cape Town has been particularly helpful in allowing the firm to thrive. Named as the number one place to visit in the world by both the New York Times and the Telegraph in 2014, the city is renowned as one of the most developed areas across the whole of Africa, largely thanks to the illustrious architectural industry there.

However, having seen an array of domestic successes with its own approach, Vivid is now increasingly looking to pursue a broader range of opportunities in new markets on a case by case basis in a bid to maintain its upward trajectory.

“Thus far, we have looked at projects in Senegal, Botswana and currently Rwanda, and have also recently completed a series of commercial buildings on Eden Island in the Seychelles,” explains Viotti.

“We are particularly interested in assisting in the conceptual design and design development stages of new projects in other regions.”

Equally, in the aim of continually reinforcing its internal procedures, Vivid has been consistently monitoring current design trends and emerging technologies so that it can take on new projects in the most effective and cost-efficient manner possible.

“We have recently purchased licences for new internal resources and project management software, together with new and innovative architectural presentation software and have now also fully embraced building information modelling, having used architectural modelling software since 2006,” Viotti reveals.

Looking ahead, Viotti is confident that Vivid’s continual commitment to its sound ethos and exemplary corporate attitudes will pay dividends, ensuring that client satisfaction is maximised on a consistent basis.

He concludes: “In the past 20 years, we have been exposed to and delivered a diverse mix of building typologies which gives our clients an enormous amount of confidence. We understand how these buildings work and hence can be efficiently, innovatively and cost effectively designed.

“With this approach, I believe that in time we will have completed a range of other award winning and environmentally responsible buildings that add real value to the built environment that we can be really proud of.”