Richard Stretton is the founder of Koop Design, a small architecture and furniture design practice in Durban, South Africa. Koop has won numerous awards for architecture, sustainability and product design. Stretton has built, designed and manufactured using timber throughout his professional life.
Early projects in the 1990’s were in remote Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal, where he lived in a local community, assisting them with the development of tourism camps. These set the foundation for a design practice that looks carefully at local human and material resources, and seeks opportunities for skills development and community participation in the building process.
Over the years, buildings and systems have been designed that produce cost-effective, recycled material, basic-need amenities, and also luxurious, finely crafted buildings and furniture.
Projects make use of alien timbers, dried in solar kilns, for the production of furniture, education apparatus and structural systems. These projects include an early childhood development crèche, a luxury private game reserve lodge and numerous residential buildings.
Koop undertakes ongoing research into using timber in the delivery of public service structures, and the development of small and micro businesses to produce the components for these buildings. This, in turn, effects a change in perceptions about timber in public buildings and housing in South Africa.
Website – koopdesign.co.za