Private House
Cape Town

Extension and alterations
360sqm & 150sqm
Completed 2016

An insitu concrete extension to a large family home on the slopes of Table Mountain. The extension acts partially as a canopy to a linear verandah, whilst also extending the family’s living and kitchen areas. Concrete is the singular material and becomes a backdrop to the house’s extensive indigineous garden. Large expanses of sliding glass doors and sheer curtains are thresholds from interior to exterior, giving shade but allowing the panoramic views of topography and harbour.

Aesthetics, culture & the sustainability of concrete:  
The role of architects & design in the development of sustainable visual concrete

Research and development
2019 - ongoing

‘Only a fraction of the worlds concrete is touched by architects, but their impact on the medium has been disproportionate to the very slight control they have over the totality of what is built the world over. As the cosmeticians of concrete, architects are responsible for mediating concrete to us for causing it to be seen in one way rather than another: it is architects, more than any other trade or occupation who are most involved in bringing our longings and loathings through the material, in giving expression to all the things that we either believe, or refuse to believe about concrete and the world within which it is used’
Adrian Forty,
Concrete and Culture

There is only one substance more prevalent than concrete and that is water, making concrete the world's most used man-made material. Cement and concrete production contribute carbon emissions equivalent to being the world's 3rd most polluting country. Concrete's relationship with sustainability - as with most things concrete - is a polarized one. A bad reputation is not new to concrete, this ancient and modern material has always provoked vicious debate whilst escaping definition or classification.

Industry professionals, engineers, manufacturers, chemists and scientists are in a race to find new forms of sustainable concrete. This covers not only low-carbon cement replacements – which already include everything from steel manufacture by-products to carrot-fibre to hemp – but also aggregates, resources used in the construction and demolition processes, and its ability to be reused. However architecture, aesthetics and the effects of concrete on culture are largely absent from the most relevant studies on the subject

This project seeks to investigate how architect's as the 'cosmeticians of concrete' can be more involved in developing this essential material's future. Architects and the design of visual concrete are integral in giving sustainable concrete its new face(s).

How could sustainable concrete look? How should concrete look in order for it to be culturally accepted as a sustainable material? What is the role of architects in giving architectural expression to sustainable concrete? How much of this is dependent on aesthetics and how much is dependent on politics and building regulations?

We propose that aesthetics, culture and material regionalism are as (and if not more) integral to concrete’s sustainable future than the chemical processes of its production. We have developed this  project with the aim of engaging architects as well as end-users into the creation of sustainable concrete. We seek to affect the way that concrete (existing and new) is designed and perceived. We hope our findings can influence and inspire concrete-users worldwide and advocate for the necessary changes to the design, construction and occupation of the built environment. We embrace the subjectivity of aesthetics versus the empiricism of engineering. We anticipate our research and mock-ups to generate many answers to what sustainable concrete looks like whilst demystifying it just a little.

Table M


Furniture Design and Manufacture

This circular hot rolled steel dining table was conceived as a simple yet sturdy centrepiece for the home. Five slender legs are arranged to allow for a minimal appearance whilst allowing maximum variation in amount of seats. The only detail is structural and the slender steel bar joins and stiffens the frame and repeats the circular motive of the top.The oiled hot rolled steel surface is alive with its black-blue waves and flecks as memories of the industrial process.

Available to order. Prize and size on request.

Finishes: Inox oil
Materials: Hot rolled steel

Thibault Square
Cape Town

Rooftop extension
900 sqm
2019 - ongoing

Djernes & Bell have been commissioned by a private client to design a 2-storey rooftop extension atop the 10th floor of an existing 1960’s high-rise building in downtown Cape Town. The new floors will become creative coworking and restaurant space.

Private House 

New 1st floor roof extension
150 sqm
2019 - ongoing

Djernes & Bell are designing a 1st floor extension to an existing single storey 1960’s house adjacent a historic forest north of Copenhagen. The design allows the family to enjoy new voluminous living spaces and provides large habitable dormer windows that allow connection and views to the treetops. By reusing existing walls and roof new built interventions are kept to a minimum which in turn creates minimum demolition waste as well as minimum new materials required.