Innovation is the standout quality that differentiates design and the built environment helps define architecture as special and appreciated by one’s peers. In sync with context provides the delight factor allowing architectural design to compete on the world stage. Technical skill, the ability to create memorable form that draws one in while treading softly on our planet is what puts the finishing touches to sustainable architecture. South African architecture continues to take positive strides also demonstrating an extra creative dimension unique in a country where the shaping of the urban landscape requires an appreciation of the complexities of creating an inclusive built environment.
Corobrik managing director Dirk Meyer made this statement ahead of the 30th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards, held annually to acknowledge and reward outstanding talent in South Africa.
Eight major universities participate by entering their best architectural student for the Awards. Each regional winner will be in Johannesburg between the 8th and 10th May 2017 for the finals.
Corobrik’s Sales manager, Dave Ledbitter presented prizes to the winners from University of Johannesburg. Darren Sampson won first prize of R8 500, second prize of R6 500 went to Matthew Robson and third prize of R4 500 was presented to Mxolisi Makhubo. An additional prize of R4 500 for the best use of clay masonry was awarded to Ruairidh Macleod
Darren Sampson’s thesis is entitled ‘The Light House’ which is not a conventional thesis project. It builds itself around a personal interest of light and dark.
An architectural proposition, uses a palette of light and dark for form, material, substance, and mood. It consists of several design experimentations from the creations of exiting atmospheric phenomena and character development to aid a narrative, too the quality of spatial experiences that would exist around the Pier, with in the Tower, Achieve I, the Observatory of Two and the Keeper House.
In second place Matthew Robson’s entry is ‘THEATRICAL TACTICS’ which is an urban praxis and the spectacle city. This project is a social media representation in the city introducing time as a medium of architecture practice.
In third place Mxolisi Makhubo’s thesis is entitled ‘Illicit Surfaces: From Utopia to Centrism’ uses an abandoned building in Hillbrow to provide the opportunity for people living on the fringes of society to ply their trade.
Winning the best use of clay brick category, Ruairidh Macleod’s thesis is entitled, ‘Architecture of Influence’. Building on the Resilience of Place; a Youth Support Centre in Diepkloof, Soweto.
Macleod proposes a youth support centre to fulfil the need for further education, entrepreneurial stimulation and emotional support for the youth of Diepkloof. The building is located on the edge between the wetland and the suburb of Diepkloof in Soweto. The current condition of the site shows how human settlement has had a perverse influence over the wetland with thousands of litres of sewage overflowing into the wetland daily.
The project begins with a wetland filtration system that cleans the polluted water through phytoremediation, providing a water source that can support wetland activities such as subsistence farming and biodiversity, resulting in social and economic activity.
By damming and widening parts of the wetland soil would need to be removed from the site. This soil will be used by the community to make unfired clay bricks and used to construct the youth support centre which will become a place of positive influence for residents of Diepkloof.
Ledbitter said that all the winners had shown a close affinity with their subjects and that their designs both enhanced with the communities in which they were sited.
Ledbitter said that Corobrik has noticed trends in the profession noticed both internationally and locally in the appreciation of clay brick as a material with important flexibility in design. Clay brick also has sustainable qualities so is appropriate for advancing the affordability of building projects.
Clay face bricks offer a lifetime of aesthetics, durability and thermal efficiency and these attributes ensure low lifecycle costs. In addition, clay bricks allow flexibility for innovation, and contribute to aesthetically appealing design. These important qualities enable architects to create memorable and relevant additions to the built environment in South Africa using clay brick.