Innovation and an appreciation of South Africa’s cultural diversity stand out in the 29th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year regional awards.

The 29th Corobrik Student Architect of the Year Awards have seen several environmental and revitalisation project entries, illustrating the concern of young architectural professionals.

The competition involves eight major universities, where the best architectural students are identified based on their final theses. This year’s regional winners are:

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
In his thesis entitled “RE-generating the Boet Erasmus Stadium in Port Elizabeth”, Leon van der Westhuizen visualises the site as a research facility and micro-catchment area where wetlands, algae ponds and water lily treatment zones filter polluted water to remove heavy metals.

Tshwane University of Technology
“The design of an institute for the documentation of fossil heritage in Nieu Bethesda, Karoo” by Ulrich Pieterse sees a centre for palaeontological research which addresses the need for an educational institute and tourism destination for palaeontology in the Karoo.

University of Cape Town
Matthew Mills, with his thesis “Transurbance: A walk about the river”, focuses on a portion of Salt River, which runs through Paarden Island and is surrounded by industrial factories. He proposes a long linear path that utilises dead residual spaces to provide a pedestrian connection to the shore.

University of Johannesburg
Jaco Jonker’s thesis, “The plug-in plantation – reforestation and industrialisation of the Nasrec precinct through the implementation of a new timber mill industry”, explores how to reduce the impacts of soil erosion, heavy-metal toxins and rampart water evaporation from dust storms along the engineered mine dumps in the area.

University of KwaZulu-Natal
To address threatened natural resources, Najeeba Hassim proposes an environmental research facility within the context of light industrial, commercial and environmental nodes in KwaZulu-Natal in her thesis entitled “Defining an architectural typology: Inner-city green centres within South Africa”.

University of Pretoria
Analysing the Johannesburg Observatory site in her thesis, entitled “Urban Observatory – re-introducing observation and measurement to reveal the invisible city”, Gillian van der Klashorst reinterprets the site as a weather station and astronomical observatory to collect, map and measure data.

University of the Free State
The controversial Secrecy Bill is what inspired Nilene van Niekerk’s thesis, “Freedom of Expression Forum”. Her idea is to create a Freedom of Expression Forum within the direct vicinity of Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg where classified information can be sent to and archived – a public space that encourages communication.

University of the Witwatersrand
Located at the River Ganga in Varanasi, Vedhant Maharaj’s thesis, “Yantra – infrastructures of the sacred and profane”, proposes a water purification plant that responds to the biomedical requirements of the treatment infrastructure and integrates with the rich socio-cultural fabric of one of India’s most sacred cities.

According to Dirk Meyer, managing director of Corobrik, all the winners have shown a close affinity with their subjects and their designs both enhanced and integrated with the communities in which they were sited.

The national title will be awarded in Johannesburg on 11 May 2016.

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