Winning architects and architectural designs in Sol Plaatje University design competition announced

Kimberley, 18 September 2013 – The Department of Higher Education and Training, tonight announced the winners in the Sol Plaatje University architectural design competition and revealed the winning designs of the future campus. The announcement was made at a special event attended by, among others, the Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Sylvia Lucas; Executive Mayor of the Frances Baard District Municipality, Ms Khadi Moloi; Sol Plaatje University Interim Council Chairperson, Jennifer Glennie; and Professor Paul Kotze, Director of the Architecture Programme at the Wits University School of Architecture and Planning, and competition administrator.

A total of fifty-nine submissions were received in the first stage of the competition. Competitors were given from 30th May 2013 to 11th July 2013 to prepare their stage 1 submission. Nine were selected to participate in the second stage of the process:

  • Comrie Wilkinson Cape and Urban Studio JV – represented by Henri Pierre Comrie
  • Royal HaskoningDHV – represented by Mauritz Kruger
  • Activate Architecture – represented by Michael Magner
  • Designworkshop: SA – represented by Paul Wygers
  • Wilkinson Architects in Joint Venture with Mashilo Lampbrechts  Architects and GXY Architects –   represented by Chris Wilkinson
  • Savage and Dodd Architects – represented by Heather Dodd
  • Jonathan Stone Architecture – represented by Jonathan Stone
  • Studiomas (Lead) and Mas Architects – represented by Sean Mahoney
  • Conco Bryan Architects – represented by Llewellyn Bryan

Of the nine submissions received in the second stage of the competition, five have been recommended for appointment to undertake architectural design work on the Sol Plaatje University over the next three years. The winners are (in no particular order):

  • Activate Architecture – represented by Michael Magner
  • Savage and Dodd Architects – represented by Heather Dodd
  • Designworkshop: SA – represented by Paul Wygers
  • Comrie Wilkinson Cape and Urban Studio JV – represented by Henri Pierre Comrie
  • Wilkinson Architects in Joint Venture with Mashilo Lampbrechts  Architects and GXY Architects –   represented by Chris Wilkinson

These talented architects were selected as having the most inspirational designs for the new university out of the nine finalists shortlisted in the competition from the initial pool of entries received.

The competition was introduced as a means to engage the widest participation of the architectural community in identifying a panel of high-calibre designers to participate in the design of the campuses, precincts in each campus, land parcels and/or individual buildings of the new Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley, Northern Cape.

In announcing the winners, The Director General of the Department of Higher Education and Training, Mr Gwebinkundla Qonde said, “We have reached an important milestone in the physical development of the Sol Plaatje University, one that deserves to be celebrated. This evening’s occasion marks our transition from the realm of ideas and concepts into the arena of implementation. Tonight is a celebration of architectural design and of our aspiration to achieve the highest possible design quality. It is also a celebration of the South African architectural profession, which has responded positively to our call for submissions. The competition was also viewed as an important way to discover as yet unknown design talent, to prioritise good design and to bring the highest quality of thinking to the physical development of the Sol Plaatje University.”

Mr Qonde explained that the development process would now move rapidly from the conceptual to the implementation phase of the Sol Plaatje University, which will open its doors next year, albeit in a modest way, making use of existing facilities during the 2014 academic year. Between now and the end of 2013, the priority would be to prepare and finalise the design and construction plans of the first new buildings that must be ready to receive a bigger intake of students for the 2015 academic year.

“This evening’s winners of the Architectural Design Competition will be the pioneers of this development process. I congratulate them and wish them well in this great national endeavor,” he concluded.

As this is the first university to be designed and built in post-democratic South Africa, the end product is expected to be iconic and inspirational, embodying the aspirations of the South African public. It is also expected to reflect the essence of the university, which represents a new order of African intellect, with a firm focus on innovation and excellence, and the country’s powerful spirit of democracy, inclusiveness, growth and opportunity.

As a bold, new-generation place of learning, it is anticipated that Sol Plaatje University will give expression to democracy and social justice; will be a 21st century institution, focused on developing innovative modalities of governance, funding, research, civic engagement and teaching and learning; and will be a relevant leader of the knowledge economy, actively engaging with communities to produce the skills and knowledge necessary for social development.

The seven-member adjudication panel comprised:

  • One architect chosen from (and by) the academic sector: Prof Rodney Harber
  • Three practicing architects: Dr Luyanda Mpahlwa, Mr Cedric Daniels and Ms Sithabile Mathe
  • One representative from DHET: Dr Diane Parker
  • One representative from the Sol Plaatje Municipality: Mr Godfrey Mashope
  • One member representing the University Interim Council: Dr Marcelle Olivier

The competition was endorsed by the South African Institute of Architects, and was open to all architects registered with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP). It followed a two-phase format: the first ‘expression of interest’ phase, which called for the submission of preliminary ideas from which the nine best were shortlisted, and the second phase, which required more detailed design development that enlarged the scale of consideration with the aim of providing a comprehensive impression of the future university.

Professor Paul Kotze, the competition administrator, said, “the quality of the entries reflects the best of what can be expected of extremely talented and committed architects in South Africa. It also has all the hallmarks of the type of buildings and ideas that would, in the long term, create qualitatively rich and interactive environments to support learning and research of the highest calibre.”

The winning designs will be exhibited at the William Humphrey’s Art Gallery from the 18 September to 1 October 2013.

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