This Cape Town based architectural firm was founded by Thomas Leach in 2007. He has since grown the practice from a solo effort to a four-strong team of experienced architects. With the first office located in Kalk Bay, Cape Town, TLA delivered on residential and hospitability buildings, exploiting the sea and mountain views particular to the Western Cape. Connecting to the landscape emerged as a characteristic feature of buildings designed by TLA. Wrap-around glass windows in the kitchen and bathrooms in House Townsend and expansive windows and skylights at House Hare, succinctly capture this spirit.
TLA became associated with not only site and climatically sensitive architecture, but a clean contemporary look that unites a variety of building typologies. Form follows function, though Leach enjoys turning practical necessities into poetic gestures. Leach’s meticulous attention to detail belie the understated look that this architect and his team are focussed on delivering. Connecting with exterior activities “a sense of civic awareness,” as Leach puts it, underpins a number of their public hospitality projects such as Sirocco and Harbour House V&AW restaurants.TLA takes great pleasure in creating designs for the public realm, where they have to balance the needs of the client with that of the broader community.
“I want to pursue architecture, not building. There is a difference.
Good architecture brings joy and delight into the users daily life and adds
significant commercial value to an investment.”
Thomas Leach, 2018
The Idiom Wines restaurant and visitor centre in Somerset West saw a culmination of the characteristics driving TLA’s design. It is a dramatic site-responsive building made from natural materials from the surroundings; Eucalyptus timber and stone quarried on site, and with its modern glass exterior, it ensures visitors are permanently linked to the breath-taking mountainous setting.
Exploiting, the quality and integrity of materials whether it be natural or manmade remain important to TLA. The practice has applied their strong design ethos to all manner of projects, from renovations to commercial buildings, viewing each new project as an opportunity to create something special and poetic, no matter how small the budget.