Architecture has the profound ability to capture a particular moment in history, reflecting the various interests, beliefs and unique character of a place in time through form and material. The design of such legacy-defining structures is enhanced by the incorporation of Corobrik’s durable clay brick range, so perfectly represented at this year’s Corobrik regional architecture award.
Musa Shangase, Corobrik’s Commercial Director commented on the excellent standard of entries for this year’s awards. “Finalists have incorporated sustainable architecture with innovation, technology and creative building design in their entries for this year’s event to be held on the 6th May in Johannesburg.”
University of the Free State
This dissertation is entitled ‘An Interminable Living Machine.’ It is a re-appropriation and transformation of the dormant Mangaung Intermodal Transport Facility into a living, economic systems of change.
This dissertation explores and addresses the re-appropriation of the vacant Mangaung Intermodal Transport Facility (MITF), into a living, micro enterprise factory of change. Reintegration of MITF, otherwise known as the Bloemfontein Taxi Terminal, with its immediate urban context is a fundamental requirement to ensure that the intervention links back into the urban context, thus humanizing it.
The site was once home to Bloemfontein’s first power station. It is this concept of power generation that leads to the client (catalyst) that acts as an “economic power generator” by enabling microenterprise development within the re-appropriated building. Several subsystems, including aquaponics and SMME (Small, Medium and Microenterprise) training, feed of the main catalyst and in turn provide resources in the form of food and business training to ground floor users and micro enterprise users to latch onto over many decades of growth.
A building that recycles itself and reuses these elements elsewhere for traders and business owners. A building that filters water through biofilters creating a living building with people that act as the sustainable, ceaseless energy source that creates an interminable system of change and economic growth in Bloemfontein and the Free State. A living machine.
Tshwane University of Technology
De Jager Booysen
This dissertation is entitled ‘Centre of Healing’. Booysen says. “According to research, over 70% of the African population in South Africa relies on traditional healing methods as its preferred choice of medicine. Despite this, Western medicine is almost universally recognised as the only “official” treatment method in South Africa. For this reason, research on traditional healing methods has been largely neglected. This provides a unique opportunity for further research and education.”
The dissertation aims to provide a platform for traditional healing to be recognised as an official method of medical practice in South Africa. The proposed development aims to introduce a facility that focuses on three main components: Firstly, the research of rituals and medicines used in traditional healing practice; secondly, the administering of traditional treatment to patients; and thirdly, housing the educational process of becoming a traditional healer.
The design product could be described as a contemporary interpretation of ancient spiritual space, stating the arrival of new dialogue in the healthcare sector. It strives to act as a monument that symbolises the shift into a new way forward in the field of medicine, using traditional methods to form the path into the future.
University of the Witwatersrand
The dissertation is entitled, ‘The Queer Commons: Interweaving Queer Space into Hillbrow as an Urban Resource for Johannesburg’s LGBTIQ Community’.
‘The Queer Commons’ is a speculative architectural intervention which proposes a site of civic engagement to offer assistance to the growing social and psychological needs of Johannesburg’s LGBTIQ community. The building programme is configured to reconcile the fact that there is little infrastructure to compensate for the vastly different lived experience of people who are discriminated against and live in social isolation. Lack of state endorsement has inhibited the ability to create a meaningful public interface for the queer community in Johannesburg; therefore this speculative development is conceived as an opportunity to engage with the city’s impetus to define a new site of civic engagement.
The proposed structure is placed in the multicultural inner-city suburb of Hillbrow part of the Windybrow Centre. Transformation of the inner city over the decades has had a profound effect on the social context of its queer community which has in turn also exposed its internal divisions. This proposal interweaves existing aspirations for the activation of the Windybrow site in Hillbrow with a new ‘Queer Commons’ which negotiates between much needed structures of civic engagement in the area as well as an urban resource for Johannesburg’s LGBTIQ community.
University of Johannesburg
The thesis is entitled ‘Bricolage: The architecture of waste’. He says, “In the natural world there is no landfill, instead of material flow. One’s species of waste is another’s food. Things grow and die nutrients return to the soil safely. The cycle circulates. Contrary, as human we have adopted a linear approach; we extract, we make, we use, and we dispose. A new product comes and we dispose of the old one. This model will simply not work long term. Construction and demolition industries are one of the largest waste generators. And a significant amount of this material ends up in landfills.”
“This project proposes turns vacant buildings to recycling factories as an alternative for dealing with waste issues within our cities, processing materials on site will reduce energy consumption, transportation and carbon footprint. This project aims to re-think waste by designing a catalogue of new material from it. Waste is not only a local resource but a natural material for practices of bricolage. Bricolage is the theory of make do with the tools and material that is available. Reclaiming, repurposing, and retrofitting vacant buildings is the first step towards a sustainable future.”
University of Pretoria
The dissertation is entitled ‘Exploring the potential of latent space in the inner city of Pretoria.’ Toward architectural remedies for regenerating and weaving latent urban fabric and spaces.
Vermeulen says, “Fleeting moments and scurried movements are captured by tall walls of concrete and brick, formed on the edges of oversized blocks in the inner city of Pretoria. The wide streets, bustling with traffic, push a myriad of informal activities to the fringes of the streets, forging a tight and contested pedestrian realm.
The sheer scale of the large city blocks alienates the pedestrian while the fragmentation of the blocks isolates buildings from one another. These ill-defined, and often, inaccessible and underutilised in-between latent spaces, provide hidden spatial potential. Through the addition of events and activities such as markets, restaurants, bars and braai areas within the hidden interior of the city blocks, the everyday inhabitant can access newly formed pause spaces and pockets of relief.
A new relationship between the inner-city user, buildings, and latent space, is created by overlaying urban, architectural, programmatic, technological, heritage, and contextual design strategies. These palimpsestic strategies are given architectural effect through additions and alterations to existing buildings as well as new infill through connections, insertions, extensions, and appropriations.
The dissertation re-imagines architecture from separated built objects to threads of spaces interlinked by open areas that encourage interaction between different city users.
University of Cape Town
The thesis is entitled ‘Diversifying Delft’s Rental Offering’. Hitchcock says, the project termed “Hindle Road Park” is an image of an avant-garde approach toward housing in the township of Delft, Western Cape. The design process envisions improved well-being for residents and visitors by questioning the processes which make up Delft’s existing conditions of ‘home’.
The topic of inhabitation is complex, and the proposal works from research into rental homes, often referred to as ‘backyarders’. By understanding the needs the design proposition aims to re-calibrate a conventional housing pedagogy. Housing is imagined through the experience of local tenant’s, owners and developers by a series of spatial lessons which occur when upscaling narrated ways of living in Delft. Hindle Road Park aims to hold these narratives and interrogate the diversity of collective, tenancy and building when organised around alternative yards, units and streets.
University of KwaZulu-Natal
The World Health Organization defines traditional healing as ‘health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and mineral based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises, applied singularly or in combination to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses or maintain well-being’. However, due to the discoveries of African colonies which instigated regulatory laws, advances in modern technology and exposure to global trends, this form of healing carries a negative connotation of being regarded as irrational, uncertified and a perilous alternative form of healing in the contemporary era.
This thesis focuses on deciphering the notion of traditional healing, with the aim of ascertaining how architectural design can pose as a medium for furnishing the traditional healing entity with meaningful spaces and form that relates to the contemporary era and also investigate how architectural design can be utilized as a tool to change the negative connotation that is associated with the realm of traditional healing in the contemporary era, whilst preserving the African indigenous values, cultures, and beliefs.
The aim of the study is to design a building typology that will provide a platform for traditional healers to network, transfer skills, and engage with the general public.
Nelson Mandela University
This dissertation is entitled ‘The design of a merino wool processing facility in Barkly East, Eastern Cape’ is a sustainable factory as a rural regenerative system.
The subject of this treatise is sparked by the concerning state of rural Eastern Cape agrarian towns and the lack of facilities. Some high impact programmes are needed to boost agrarian reform in an attempt to revive dying small towns.
The project aims to use a factory to restore forgotten wastelands, traditionally used as buffer zones in township communities, in the distant hinterland. This unique opportunity can reverse urbanization, restore socio-economic conditions and allow a rural population to thrive in uncongested healthy environments.
The project revisits the typical exclusive factory type, to create an inclusive space where the community is involved in and celebrated. The quote: “The architecture of place should be more important than the architecture of time,” from architect Gunnar Asplund, became the sole base of the architectural expression. The building is constructed using materials of the region, local clay bricks and lanolin treated timber structure, methods that are familiar to local craftsman and builders.
The building takes inspiration from the cultural, immediate township scale, and mountainous context to generate a unique architecture responding to the harsh climate of the highlands of South Africa.
Musa Shangase said that it was enlightening to see a generation of new architects showcasing world-class design talent while drawing on the traditional clay brick as a key architectural material: “Despite all the technological advancements we’ve seen in the construction sector over the years, the clay brick remains a dominant material because of its durability, aesthetics, and environmentally-sustaining qualities.”
“When it comes to creating a legacy in architecture, it’s best to rely on honest, simple materials that inform the architectural language without overpowering the finished product,” he said. “Corobrik’s clay brick range is a really impactful example of this, and it’s inspiring to see the promise of future heritage buildings being realised through the clay brick. It’s evident that better starts here – with Corobrik.”
This annual competition enables Corobrik, the country’s leading producer of clay brick, to recognise the shining lights on the architectural map of the future. The top students from eight major universities are identified based on their final theses and presented with awards throughout the year.
This event allows students of today to chart the way forward during challenging times for developing countries such as South Africa which not only had to embrace the advances of the day but use these to address things that were unique to Africa whilst also embracing its cultural heritage.