The winner of the 31st Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award is Renée Minnaar from the University of Pretoria for her thesis entitled “Remediator – Restoring the dichotomous relationship between industry and nature through an urban eco-textile mill and dye house”.
Her design impressed the judges with its insightful way of tackling quintessentially South African issues that cross generations and present compelling reasons to rethink the local built environment in South Africa.
Rapid technological advancements have resulted in the abandonment of many industrial sites in expanding cities and the dissertation investigates the potential of these redundant sites, such as the old Johannesburg Gasworks, to mitigate the environmental and social issues and reintegrate the site back into the surrounding urban fabric.
Through the understanding and application of environmental and heritage theories, Minnaar attempted to find a means of using architecture as a tool to mediate the dichotomous relationship between industry and nature, resulting from an exploitative world view, and inspire a new archetype for industrial architecture.
The annual Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award competition recognises the country’s best architectural students from eight major universities based on their final theses. The winners of each of the regional competitions were announced throughout 2017 and competed for the national title and a prize of R50 000.
Judges for this year’s award were Maryke Cronje from Project Worx in Pretoria, Luyanda Mphalwa from Design Space Architects in Cape Town and Tanzeem Razak from Lemon Pebble Architects in Johannesburg.
“As this competition enters its fourth decade, we are all too aware that the context in which the architects of the future will be operating is changing extremely rapidly,” the chief executive officer of Corobrik, Dirk Meyer, pointed out at the awards ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in Sandton.
He explained that the rapidly changing design technology and software that are now at the disposal of up-and-coming architects, like the eight finalists, were just part of a bigger picture. Today’s young professionals are not only looking for rapid and meaningful solutions backed by superior technology and connectivity, but are also demanding a degree of authenticity that was often missing in the past.
“This year’s theme is technology and the ever changing landscape. This is an exciting time for clay brick, which is essentially a technology that has stood both the test of time and change. A technology that drove the original industrial revolution is today addressing pressing issues such as environmental degradation and sustainability. Now, more than ever, the fact that clay brick is durable, non-toxic, reusable, energy efficient and low maintenance will be key,” he said.
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Caption main image: The winner of the 31st Corobrik Architectural Student Award, Renée Minnaar of the University of Pretoria.
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