When entering The Barracks, you will see her ceilings made of authentic yellowwood beams from the 1700’s & moments of history appear in various exposed nodes where natural clay brick, sea sand & even sea shells make up a structure that will now become one of Cape Town’s most historic residential spaces.
The Barracks welcomes you to experience
a piece of her untold history.
The Fagan Design
The owners wanted to develop the property for commercial purposes. Realising the heritage importance of the site, they approached Gabriel Fagan Architects and Steve Townsend for guidance – both provided a wealth of much needed knowledge and expertise. Gawie Fagan a highly respected heritage specialist architect was the pro bono architect for the Lutheran Church for many years and was passionate about the conservation of this block. Visual Impact Assessments and Heritage Impact Assessments were done, and one night he came up with a brilliant concept of how to allow old and new to co-exist successfully.
Retaining the heritage significance by restoring the historic warehouse.
First on the list was to regain heritage significance by rehabilitating and restoring the historic warehouse, which through years of neglect and ad hoc alterations had been severely degraded. The exterior facades along Strand & Bree were returned to their best known form by referencing an 1880’s photograph from the Cape Archives of the view up Strand Street from the corner of Bree Street. For the interior, all modern interventions such as toilets, stair cases, partition walls etc were removed from the original footprint of the warehouse, and relocated in the area of the old alleyway next to the Church property. All authentic heritage fabric was retained, restored and showcased. The several new roofs built during the twentieth century over the historic building, were removed and replaced with a new concrete slab covering the entire site to integrate the disparate parts of the building complex structurally and visually. The main entrance to the building was created on Bree with an arcade slicing through the building to link up with the Church courtyard. All the fabric from this slice was salvaged and used to re-instate a part previously demolished. The result is a considerable increase in and accessibility to the significance of the historic structure, long hidden from view.
Next was the impact of additions and how they could be accommodated. Taking into account line of site views, the development envelope was setback from Strand Street to preserve the signature views of the Lutheran Church and 18th century streetscape. The modern new structure floats above the parapet line with a vertical separation so that there is no confusion between old and new. The visually ‘light’ glazing skin and sloping facade of the new component were chosen to accentuate the disconnection with the rectilinear form of the historic visually ‘heavy’ masonry structure below. The cars on the parking deck have been setback so as not to be visible from the street. The result is an exciting experience of an 18th century block from the street, and the modern new component above blends in with the surrounding modern townscape.
Sadly Gawie Fagan passed away in September of 2020, but his legacy will live on through this project and countless others which have all contributed positively to the Cape. His work is continued by John Wilson-Harris who now leads the practice, and has been part of all aspects of The Barracks since inception through to completion.