PG Bison’s annual 1.618 Education Initiative competition is underway. Lectures are taking place at academic institutions around the country to deliver the brief to the participating third-year architecture and interior design students. Themed #WorldsOfDesire, the 2023 brief asks entrants to imagine and design the ultimate luxury desert oasis in the heart of the arid Tankwa Karoo.

The brief recognises how social media has reached beyond the digital sphere to affect the physical world. It centres on the idea of a wealthy content creator who wants to invest in creating a space in the Tankwa Karoo that she can rent out to film and photography crews and other social media content creators. This entertainment oasis development therefore needs to be visually appealing, with interesting “Instagrammable” architectural and design features.

Students interpreting the brief need to meet various criteria in their submissions, including using the existing building on the site as an anchor point and using PG Bison products within appropriate internal spaces. Most importantly, they must celebrate the basic human needs of eating, sleeping, bathing and socialising through the elements of earth, fire, air and water. With the site located in a desert, the clever use of water provides the wicked problem to the brief.

“This year’s brief is a really fun opportunity for students and their lecturers to work on a project where they can add their own flair, while showcasing their design skills,” says Jason Wells, Brand and Marketing Manager at PG Bison. “We’ve been sponsoring this competition for more than 30 years now, and although it started out as a means to introduce third-year students to PG Bison’s products, it’s now viewed by many students as a way to be noticed and have their talent identified, in the marketplace, as they near the end of their studies and start to think about joining the world of work. Many of the winners and finalists have gone on to achieve great success, and finalists are always sought after by employers looking to hire fresh, young talent.”

The 2023 brief is a departure from its focus in recent years on social issues. While this is an important component of what built environment professionals will do in their working careers, Wells says the competition is first and foremost an opportunity for students to demonstrate their creativity and skills in an environment they will not often be afforded in the real world, where briefs tend to be more constrained.

The winning student and their lecturer will each win a cash prize of R50 000, while the runner-up takes home R25 000 and third-place wins R10 000. Each of the top 10 finalists selected is also invited to a special awards ceremony, with travel and hospitality covered by PG Bison, and those who do not place in the top three each enjoy a cash prize of R2 000.

“We are looking forward to seeing what this year’s entrants produce,” says Wells. “South Africa has a wealth of young talent on offer, and we can’t wait to see their responses to the ‘#WorldsOfDesire’ brief.”

For more information, visit the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative website, www.1sixoneeight.co.za.

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