The 32nd Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award was held at the Maslow Hotel on 7 May in Sandton, Johannesburg. Riaan Huiskens from the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) was announced as the winner, with eight regional finalists showcasing high calibre projects.

During 2018, eight regional finalists from universities across the country were recognised and selected to compete for a national title and a prize of R70 000 at the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards.

Riaan’s thesis, entitled The design of a 3D printing facility in Central, Port Elizabeth, explores how architecture is moving towards a paradigm shift with the development and incorporation of digital fabrication technology. This is extended into the discussion of recycling existing infrastructure, and ties together both the heritage and ecological discourse. It also recognises the significance of historical urban elements and the finite quality of heritage resources within the city.

The design of 3D printing facility in central, Port Elizabeth.

Riaan comments: “A historical building used as a host for the design of a 3D printing facility invites a dialogue between the architecture of the old and the expression of the new. The Premier Mill Building is identified as a historical urban artefact and the programme complements the historical background of the building, which was a granary. The primary architectural exploration focuses on the possibilities offered by 3D printing in the making and expression of architecture. The nature of the facility organises function before sign, meaning the initial architecture lies in the systematic operations of the facility as a place of digital fabrication. Therefore, it focuses on successfully incorporating existing infrastructure as functioning components to the system. Secondly, the building is a sign of its function, a visual opportunity for a new architecture to reflect the nature of the facility.”

Andrew Palframan, head of the Department of Architecture at NMU, believes that this thesis addresses a very relevant topic as we head into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“While increasingly mechanised and technologically advanced, the building process has essentially not changed for millennia. Riaan’s thesis creatively explores the potential for a fundamentally new way of making buildings, implementing cyber-physical systems that blur the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres. The project lends insight not only into the systems and materials involved in this new way of making, but comments on how these might be implemented in the preservation of our built heritage,” says Andrew.

Recognising the significance of historical urban elements.

CEO of Corobrik, Dirk Meyer, thanked this year’s judges – Lauren Haiden from Paton Taylor architects in Durban, Rob Gillard from Intsika Architects in East London and Luyanda Mpahlwa, President of the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) and director of Design Space Africa. Guest speaker, Ilse Woolf from Wolff Architects in Cape Town, whose presentation ‘Border Practice: Some attitudes towards architectural publications, exhibitions and design’ addressed the relationship between restorative justice, embedded research and juicy design aesthetics.

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