Cape Town: Ilze Wolff

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Ilze Wolff in her architecture studio in Bo-Kaap.

Ilze Wolff in her architecture studio in Bo-Kaap. Image: Brett Rubin

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Plans of completed projects.

Plans of completed projects. Image: Brett Rubin

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Wolff with her husband and business partner Heinrich Wolff.

Wolff with her husband and business partner Heinrich Wolff. Image: Brett Rubin

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Concepts, including new ideas around energy saving.

Concepts, including new ideas around energy saving. Image: Brett Rubin

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Wolff at work with a model.

Wolff at work with a model. Image: Brett Rubin

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Posters of past work.

Posters of past work. Image: Brett Rubin

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A scale model in Wolff's office.

A scale model in Wolff’s office. Image: Brett Rubin

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Models of Wolff’s designs.

Models of Wolff’s designs. Image: Brett Rubin

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When her application to study graphic design was rejected, a distraught young Ilze Wolff needed a plan B. Her finger hovered over archeology and architecture in the university catalogue, but she chose the latter, was accepted into the School of Architecture at the University of Cape Town and has never looked back.

“I come from a background where architecture was never discussed. I was introduced to the idea that architecture has a direct influence on how our society is constructed and shaped, and this has been my hook ever since,” Wolff says.

Her passion for architecture is as infectious as her super-funky personal style. Cape Town-born Wolff, 32, who is in practice with her husband Heinrich Wolff, also runs Open House Tours, introducing the public to the social history of significant city buildings.

She deeply appreciates Cape Town’s contradictions, created by its political history and its social diversity.

“It presents us with conditions of in-betweeness, and an array of sharp contradictions, a source for any great imaginative mind,” she says. Her work is hybrid and diverse: projects include building a hospital, designing a school for autistic children, producing short films on the history of Cape Town’s architecture and publishing two books.

Wolff loves the workspace she shares with her husband on the edge of the gentrified, picturesque Bo-Kaap, with its colorful cobble-stoned streets: “I have a constant view of Table Mountain and as an architect engaged in the city, I cannot think of a better place to be.”

Wolff recommends:

  • A trip to the top of the old BP tower, currently Cape Town’s tallest building, for amazing views of the city.
  • The Book Lounge, a bookshop on Roeland Street. Mungo & Jemima on bustling Long Street for edgy women’s clothing.

For more on Cape Town, click here.

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