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Nature and Matter in a working Space

Peter Rich Architects

Nature and Matter in a working Space
By Raymund Ryan -

Nature is today under threat as never before. Great strides have been made in the preservation of endangered species, the “ring-fencing” of specific landscapes or habitats, and the curtailment, at least in certain advanced economies, of mechanical and industrial pollution. If in classical times architecture and the city were imagined to be in sharp dichotomy with nature (the civilized, constructed world surrounded by a boundless and potentially dangerous countryside), today pure nature seems frequently to be isolated and in danger of encroachment by what is euphemistically termed “development”.
In South Africa, the work of Peter Rich reminds us that nature and construction need not be considered as opposites, to be forever at loggerheads in some Manichean battle for space and for resources. Rich’s architecture weaves itself into the contested realm of South African cities and emerges from the ground in remote rural locations in ways which are unapologetically architectural yet appear natural in their selection of material, their refinement of structure and of topography, and their sensitivity to natural light.
The ultimate goal of this endeavor is the augmentation of settlement in sync with our wider world.
In the last decade or so, Rich’s travels have taken him to Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti. He is one of a new group of architects, primarily African or of African descent, who reinvestigate and revalorize urbanism, community design and economical construction across the continent. Now, in the inevitable trajectory of architects with ambition and talent, Rich has come to the United States. His first American project cannot be confused with the sculptural excesses of starchitecture. It is, rather, an interior, an interior landscape we might say, that has infiltrated and found a home in the unlikely setting of suburban Chicago.
CityGate Centre is a commercial development at the intersection of two...

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