We are proud to announce that January 2024 is the 40th anniversary of the founding of the firm that became Nico van der Meulen Architects. It is a privilege to start the new year reflecting on milestones, achievements, while also looking ahead.

At the end of 1983 I wanted to design better buildings than the ones I was tasked with building as a project manager. Despite the challenges South Africa was facing under the previous government, the economy was in a strong position, GDP growth was 5,1%, the Rand 1,255 to the dollar and official unemployment 13,7% (Wikipedia), 25 years before “loadshedding” entered our vocabulary. The years in between were turbulent, yet prosperous, however, towards the end of the ‘80s we started completing our first featured projects.

This led to many subsequent projects over the years, most recently showcasing S Residence, Project Rise, Melbourne and Sandton Residence, including House in Southern Africa, a US$90million project designed in 2020.

We pride ourselves on long lasting relationships with our clients leading to further projects and our family business grew to include Associates believing in the same principles, quality, functionalism, and originality.

Though we worked on exciting projects, met amazing people, developed new skills, realistically 2023 was a difficult year for the economy, with the continued power shortage being the worst to date, parastatals suffered, demand for raw materials dropped due to the world economies faltering.

Although economic analysts are positive about private power generation, load shedding will be with us for years to come and the uncertainties due to the global elections challenge investment decisions. However, in November 2023, in South Africa, there were sharp declines in the Consumer Price and Producer Price Inflation, showing evidence that the rate of inflation was easing.

Optimistically, we found enquiries improved, which pointed to new confidence in the market, highlighted by Cape Town being rated the second most liveable city after New York (read more) and an increase in reverse emigration (read more) leading to improved residential real estate trends.

Though our reputation is built on our experience in residential architecture, we had the opportunity to broaden our creativity with recent commercial projects designs: Eton Office Park, Woodmead Head Office, Araneidae Office, and Listowel Solicitors with a surge in wellness tourism and luxury boutique hospitality projects including Leopard Orchid Lodge, AM Lodge Manyeleti and Abrikoos Kloof Reserve

Further to the projects my team shared in previous newsletters, internationally, we completed the designs for Twin Palms, Kasambabezi and New Kasama in Zambia, Kiambu Residence in Nairobi, Kifita in DRC, Blair Road in Zimbabwe, House Niko in Lesotho and the redesign and interior design of Stacksmountain in Ireland.

Over the past four decades, we’ve had the privilege of designing projects for royalty, future presidents and ministers, billionaires and thousands of special clients. This collective effort has propelled us to be recognized as one of the best architectural firms in South Africa by Architizer in 2023. (Architizer 2023 Best architectural companies in South Africa.)

Having left our mark in 43 countries, our commitment to creating unique, climate-adapted buildings has garnered global recognition, with features in hundreds of online and printed publications. Our dynamic passionate team and preferred consultants are dedicated to designing and developing personalized spaces that evolve with contemporary trends.

As we reflect on our history, we face the year 2024 together with optimism and anticipation, and another year of groundbreaking designs, meaningful collaborations, continued success and many more milestones.

Nico, for and on behalf of Santa, Werner, Margot, Michael, Chris, Justin and Melanie