A team of South African students won the first prize in the 14th International Saint Gobain MultiComfort House Students Contest with their project “Solar.Creek.Community”, which combined innovation and vernacular architecture with a climate-driven approach to create sustainable communities.
Participants had to design a vision for a transcultural community development on the perimeter of Dubai, and propose a combination of residential and public spaces to maximise energy-efficiency and wellbeing. Students had to find a way to reconcile the reduction of energy consumption of cooling and ventilation systems with an aesthetic and highly efficient building envelope without compromising comfort, and while preserving the environment.
Vahin Parmananda and Mthokozisi Sibisi from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) beat 68 other students from four universities in Southern Africa, and then went on to compete against 50 teams from 28 countries. Remarkably, they came up with their project proposal in only six weeks, as opposed to the six months given to the Northern Hemisphere participants.
The Saint-Gobain MultiComfort House Students Contest, created in 2004, is an international competition dedicated to architecture and engineering students, rewarding sustainable and comfortable architecture.
South Africa participated for the first time in 2016, when a team from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) came second.
“Having won the second prize in 2016 with UJ, when we participated on the international stage for the first time, was a major highlight for South Africa. To win this year with UKZN, is an enormous achievement and certainly one of the biggest highlights in my Saint-Gobain career,” says Sibusiso Mthembu, Saint-Gobain’s coordinator for the Southern Africa stage of the contest.
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Caption main image: Sibusiso Mthembu (Saint-Gobain’s coordinator for the Southern Africa stage), Magdalena Cloete (lecturer at the University of KZN), Vahin Parmananda (University of KZN student), Mthokozisi Sibisi (University of KZN student), Zakiyyah Haffajee (University of Johannesburg student) and Tyron Stephan (University of Johannesburg student).
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