Designer Q&A with Dennis Rabinowitz of JPR Architects

dennis_rabinowitzName : Dennis Rabinowitz

Company : JPR Architects

Position in Company : Director

Website :









. Tell us a little about your background (education, experience, etc)

Qualified at University of Pretoria South Africa 1971 B.Arch;
Earned University Blue (colours) for Soccer having represented SA Universities 1966.
Married my wife, an artist, 1970
Worked for Colin St John Wilson Architects, London 1972-3, British Library project;
Started Private Practice Pretoria RSA 1976: Luxury Domestic, Multi Unit mid-rise residential (development and architectural commissions), Private Hospitals, Industrial, Commercial Towers;
First daughter, Tandi (love in Zulu), born 1977. Now artist and mother of two sons.
Second daughter, Nicki, born 1980. Now educator and mother of daughter and son.
Migrated to Australia 1985, director of large (now defunct) Architectural practice until I joined Ian Poole to form JPR Architects 1990. Luxury Domestic, Multi Unit mid-rise, Industrial, Master planning, Interiors.
Director of Link Developments which carried out many Multi unit development projects including Mariners Cove, 225 units at Sydney 2000 Olympics site.

. How would you describe your own personal style?

Organic, eclectic, primitive, warm architecture based on a thorough knowledge of building technology, services, engineering and economics. I like to work in a team.

. Where does your inspiration come from?

Travel in the developing world of SE Asia, remote Africa, South America and the historic traditions of Europe and the Bauhaus.

. In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?

Architectural education is moving towards a philosophy rather than a vocation. I am afraid that design, through the capability of CAD, is in an era of Aesthetic gymnastics. Current design seems, thankfully, to be searching for meaning. The residential design world (building) is fortunately breaking free from years of clinical minimalism to rational humanism and sensible environmentalism.

. Name five key themes to consider when approaching property development in 2014 and beyond.

Community building in the social sense.

. If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to development projects, what would it be?

Question the norm. Don’t blindly follow marketing advice which often promotes what has been done before. Disagreeability leads to innovation, problem resolution and a point of difference which in my experience results in successful development.

. How important are The International Design and Architecture Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?

They are important because they are independent enough not to be influenced by local politics and brand awareness. They appear to be wholly merit based.

. What projects are you currently working on?

212 Residential Units-“Panorama” (nearing completion);
163 Residential Units- “Garden House”- in documentation;
600M2 private waterfront residence- “Wagstaffe”- construction about commence;
300M2 Cliff top holiday home- “Stanwell”- in documentation;
14 Luxury Residential units – “Embassy” – awaiting authority approval;
Commercial Building refurbishment ($10M)- preparing for approval.

. What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?

To prepare the office for an orderly and successful succession to the younger Directors.

. Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself

Your most treasured possession?

My family.

Your favourite holiday destination?

African Safari.

Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?

Sang Saa resort, Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
Red Lantern (Luke Nguyen) Sydney, Australia.
My kitchen counter.

Your favourite book / film / song?

David and Goliath (M Gladwell), Dr Zhivago, Shugar Man (Rodriguez) or Haleluja (Leonard Cohen).

Your favourite food and drink?

“Styve Pap en Vleis”. Native South African staple diet of stiff mielie-meal (Polenta- Italy)(Ugali- Kenya) porridge and spicy meat stew eaten around a fire with ones fingers. Preferably accompanied by “Marogo” which is wild spinach prepared with peanut-butter and chili.


Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?

In my workshop making jewellery, a “Box car” for my grandkids or a piece of furniture.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

A Fitter and Turner.

Anything else interesting?

I would love to make music but simply haven’t put enough effort into playing an instrument.