For the winners of the Tshwane University of Technology leg of the 31st Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award and their peers, this would be the era of 3D-printed houses, digi cities, self-drive cars and an urban environment that could not have been imagined as little as 10 years ago.
At an awards ceremony held at the university Reply Mahlangu from the Tshwane University of Technology was awarded first prize and received R8 500 for his thesis entitled ‘The design of an automotive assembly facility in Pretoria.’ The Second prize of R6 500 went to Antonio Jose Diz Garrido, while Conrad Janse van Rensburg and Carel Pieter Redelinghuys shared third prize. R4 500 prize for the best use of clay masonry was also presented to Tania Rude.
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. The regional winners then compete for the national title and a prize of R50 000 at the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards which will be held in Johannesburg in May 2018.
Musa Shangase, Corobrik Commercial Director said that the students of today would 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.
“But, no matter how pressing the needs and challenges of our immediate built environment, we cannot forget that we exist in a global context. The world has embarked on a fourth revolution that has already ushered in unprecedented change and disruption and will continue to do so. We have seen the demise of the vinyl record and the analogue camera and the birth of new brands such as Uber, AirBNB and Google. Newspapers and magazines, book publishers and even the postal service are struggling to move with the times and stay relevant,” he warned.
He said that Reply Mahlangu’s thesis, entitled ‘The design of an automotive assembly facility in Pretoria’, had fully embraced the complexities of the past present and future in South Africa. Mahlangu says, his thesis, is an automobile assembly plant that is suitable for the South African context.
Research reveals the South African automotive industry generates over R100 billion annually and contributes to 6% of the country’s GDP. However, the industry does not consist of any locally owned car maker due to the financial burden of entering the sector. All the assembly plants in South Africa are designed according to an international standard in order to fulfil an international demand. Each of these mechanized facilities costs billions to establish and they are specifically designed for manufacturing. Investors stand to lose billions if the company fails to sell the cars.
The aim of this thesis is to lower the stakes by designing a smaller assembly plant that can later be retrofitted to perform other functions (office building, retail outlet or even student accommodation) beyond manufacturing cars. This urban located multi-storey assembly plant will encourage rental opportunities while responding to the unemployment challenges of the country by using labour to offset the massive capital required for a complete mechanization.
Second place winner Antonio Jose Diz Garrido’s project is The design of an aquaponic facility at the Pretoria West power station.
Third place Conrad Janse van Rensburg has designed an International Convention Centre in Central Pretoria and Carel Redelinghuys’ proposes a Space Exploration Centre in Central Pretoria.
Tania Rüde’s award for the best use of clay brick was received for The Design of an Expressive Arts Therapy Centre in Lynwood, Pretoria.
Tania’s design was proposed on a growing activity node in Pretoria where a green space is not currently utilised to its full potential and where there is a big demand for more public accessible green spaces. The pre-primary school, church, hospital and the general community in the area could benefit to a large extent from such a development.
She says, materials and surfaces play a big role in how one perceives architecture. Not only do materials physically make habitable spaces aesthetical, the various ways they are applied impacts the sensory experience one gets when moving through these spaces.
As the land use is predominantly residential, the observation was made that brick is the general material used. Therefore, with the idea in mind that the building not stand out in the context, brick was used as the sculptural element driving the design to subtly respond to the immediate context. Corobrik Roan Satin face bricks were used as the main element in the perforated brick screen.
Shangase said he was confident that Corobrik, which had a 115-year history, would remain relevant as the fourth industrial revolution gathered momentum in South Africa.
Clay brick has been traced back to 7 500 BC and even to the days of the Egyptians and the Roman Empire. The first industrial revolution had completely transformed brick production as the need to rapidly build factories and whole cities burgeoned. Over the years, more efficient and sophisticated methods of production saw the clay brick gain traction as the building material of choice and the foundation of modern architecture as we know it today.
“Along with the rise of technology comes a move to more environmentally friendly and sustainable living. Because clay brick is durable, non-toxic, reusable, energy efficient and requires little maintenance, this is a product that will live on and embrace the fourth industrial revolution. It is more relevant than ever,” Shangase concluded.