About Thembela


We are a company of dedicated, reliable and highly qualified Architects. The founding members of Thembela Architects have up to 30 years experience in the building industry with previous involvement at a national level.

Central to our business philosophy is the provision of a total service to our clients from inception to successful completion of a project. We set out to design buildings of excellence, which achieve and enhance the financial returns required by our clients. With the support of clients, our designs incorporate energy efficiency, sustainability and passive solar design. We understand and involve ourselves in all aspects of property development.

We are well aware of the importance of managing the building process to ensure completion of projects within time and cost restraints.

Some of our clients include:

Aspen Pharmacare
Cerebral Palsy Association
Department of Public Works
Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature
Nelson Mandela University
Engen Petroleum Limited
First National Bank
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality
Rhodes University
Standard Bank of South Africa
St Andrews College
St Andrews Preparatory School
Walter Sisulu University


Established in 1993, our practice has traded as Thembela Architects since 2000. Our Main Office is based in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape and is led on a rotating basis by our experienced directors with the assistance of our technical staff. Our Branch Office is based in Bhisho managed by the competent Watini Dennis Hlontli.

Although our Head Office is based in the Eastern Cape, Thembela Architects has the ability to operate across the whole of South Africa and neighbouring region.

  • 30 Years of experience
  • 25% Black Owned and Managed
  • Accredited Level 4 BBBEE Contributor
  • Accredited National Department of Public Works consultants
  • Approved Nelson Mandela Metro consultants


Raymond Drake - B Build (UPE), B Arch (UPE), ND Arch (PE Tech) MIA: Raymond has 30 years experience across a wide variety of projects with a focus on industrial, commercial, institutional and corporate. Raymond has served as chairman of the marketing committee of the East Cape Institute of Architects and as chairman of the Cerebral Palsy Association.

Watini Dennis Hlontli - SACAP (Prof.Snr.Arch.Tech.): Dennis has 30 years experience across a wide variety of projects with a focus on industrial, government institutional and commercial. Dennis has worked his way through the ranks alongside Raymond and Andrew, and benefitted from in house training and support.

Gavin Schönknecht - B Build (UPE), B Arch (UPE), ND Arch (PE Tech) MIA, (Pr CPM): Gavin has 20 years of experience across a variety of architectural projects with a focus on industrial, commercial and residential projects. In addition to this, Gavin has served on the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality Elevation Control Committee. Along with his Building Management qualification, Gavin is also a Professional Construction Project Manager (Pr CPM) and has also completed the Department of Public Works Targeted Procurement Exam.

Andrew Thomson - B Build (UPE) (cum laude), B Arch (UPE) MIA: Andrew has 25 years experience across a variety of projects with a focus on commercial, educational, corporate and government institutional. Andrew has served as an external examiner of the University of Port Elizabeth Department of Architecture for many years and on a school governing body.

Technical Team

Stephen Hartwanger – B.Arch (UPE), PrArch, SACAP: Stephen spent approximately 10 years working as an Architect internationally returning to South Africa in 2011 where he then joined the Thembela Architects team. While Stephen has been involved in mainly Education and Healthcare projects, both internationally and in South Africa, he is able to successfully tackle any project type and has even been involved in the development of Hotels and Leisure Centers among others. He is also the President of the Leander Rowing Club – an outreach programme in Duncan Village for youths age 14 to 20.

John Harvey – ND Arch (PE Tech), SACAP: John is a Senior Architectural Technologist and BIM Technician with over 30 years’ experience in the architectural and planning industry and has been working with Thembela Architects since 2010. He has been involved in numerous project sectors including Residential, Industrial, Commercial, Retail, Health Care, Educational and Pharmaceutical Production among others.

Stephen Knott – B.Arch (UPE): Stephen is an architect contracting for Thembela Architects. Stephen has a long involvement with Rotary and the Pirates Hockey Club. He has 25 years’ experience in the industry and has experience in the Industrial, Pharmacare and Public Works sectors having completed work for the Department of Public Works.

Nicole Marillier – B.AS (NMMU), M.Arch (NMMU), SACAP: Nicole has been an Architect at Thembela Architects since 2010 and has since been involved in numerous projects in the Pharmacare, Education, Government and Service Delivery sectors including work done with Aspen and Walter Sisulu University among others. She is also a lifetime member and a dedicated volunteer at the Animal Welfare Society of Port Elizabeth.

Adrian Vockerodt – ND Arch (PE Tech), B Build (PE Tech): Adrian is a Senior Architectural Technologist with over 20 years’ experience in the industry having worked in the UK before returning to South Africa and has been a part of the Thembela Architects team since 2016. While in the UK, Adrian worked for a multinational and multidiscipline company gaining experience in the Industrial, Aerospace and Defense sectors. He has since been involved in Educational and Public Buildings projects among others.