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UKZN, CPUT students joint runners-up in annual design competition

Perspective section of Yolanda Mpanza’s design. Picture: Supplied

Perspective section of Yolanda Mpanza’s design. Picture: Supplied

Published Oct 5, 2022


Durban — A University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) student was a joint runner-up with a student from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative.

Last week, the top 10 finalists of the PG Bison Education Initiative came together for a glamorous awards ceremony in Joburg.

The competition which in 2022 celebrates 30 years of showcasing up-and-coming talent, draws support from around the country, with the brief written into the third-year curricula of participating educational institutions.

The judges decided not to award a first prize for the competition this year, as they felt that no one entry fully met the requirements of the brief.

Site plan of Yolanda Mpanza’s design. Picture: Supplied

Instead of first, second and third places being announced, Yolanda Mpanza, an architecture student from the UKZN, and Daniel November, an architecture student from the CPUT, were announced as joint runners-up in the competition.

The top finishers, Mpanza and November, created the best entries overall and shared the combined second-and third-place prizes allotted (R25 000 and R10 000, added and split down the middle), taking home R17 500 each. The remaining eight finalists each took home a cash prize of R2 000.

Perspective section of Yolanda Mpanza’s design. Picture: Supplied

Mpanza designed Space to Place, a site located in a township called Motherwell. The housing design is a mid to lower-income mixed-use (residential and retail) housing. With respect to the site and its context, the Theory of Space & Place and Phenomenology were used to achieve the modular design. For a space to become a place it needs to have meaning attached to it and that meaning is attached to the people. The corrugated iron is used as an exterior cladding, with the insulated floor, roof and walls. The interior walls are finished with plywood; the aim was to be as minimalist as possible to give the user a clean canvas for them to create their own vision of what a home should look like. The furniture uses a palette that blends in with the plywood aesthetic from the PG Bison products. The light and shadow define these interior textures, the south-facing skylight and windows are placed according to the function of the space behind let in this light.

November designed Sunbird’s Nest, a mixed-use community-based housing project inspired by the natural beauty of the KZN coastal region, to accommodate and nurture a community of people for sustainable living and future generations of South Africans. The building acts as a sanctuary and botanical living space, allowing for private living with integrated communal interaction. The main courtyard connects to the surrounding area, the homes of residents as well as a bakery, general store, and eatery. The core of the building breathes life into the space and creates a healthy living environment for its occupants, revitalizing souls and providing green scenery.

Interior views of Yolanda Mpanza’s design. Picture: Supplied

PG Bison brand and marketing manager Jason Wells said: “Congratulations to Yolanda and to Daniel, as well as their lecturers and institutions.”

“Their entries showed great promise and addressed the most elements of the brief. While our expert panel of judges acknowledged the wealth of architectural and interior design talent on display at the judging event, they ultimately agreed that it would not be right to nominate a winner when no one entry met all the requirements we asked for, particularly taking into account the context of the site and the community at the heart of the brief.”

“We want to encourage our finalists that the decision not to award first prize is not a reflection of their design ability,” stressed Wells.

“We can see that this is a talented group of young people. We encourage them to take the judges’ feedback to heart as they seek to address future briefs, remembering that ultimately, spaces are designed for people, and not just a showcase of their skills.”

“The PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative is a respected competition in the industry because of the high standards it upholds, and we feel it’s important to protect that standard. We encourage the education institutions to spend more time on the human aspect of future briefs and look forward to engaging with them on this point at our debriefing session next month,” Wells added.

Daniel November’s Sunbird’s Nest. Picture: Supplied

Nathaniel Wakefield, 2022 competition brief author and judge from Batley Partners said that the judges had a robust discussion.

“While the standard of design was generally high, we felt the submissions missed certain important aspects of the brief, particularly regarding context. It's important in any development to not only understand the technical requirements, but also those that relate to the human aspect. We feel that the students need to firm up this aspect of their competition submissions in future and remember the focus is ultimately on meeting the needs of the people who will be using the space. The need for interrogation and analysis of the brief is important to provide the correct end product,” Wakefield said.

Snap shots of Daniel November’s Sunbird’s Nest. Picture: Supplied

One of the qualities that have contributed to the endurance of this competition, is PG Bison’s willingness to engage with the educational institutions and critically assess the competition so that it may continually evolve. With this in mind, PG Bison will be reconsidering its recently implemented practice of using the city or provincial location of the current winner’s institution for the site of the following year’s brief. As the site can only be selected once a winner is announced, the brief is now being compiled and disseminated to the institutions quite late.

PG Bison is committed to ensuring sites are selected from around the country when developing future briefs but will move back to the practice of working on the following year’s brief before the current competition is concluded. This will ensure the brief can be finalised in time to be incorporated into the following year’s academic calendar and alleviate undue time pressures on the educational institutions. This will greatly assist by giving lecturers more time to clarify their queries and allow them and the students to address briefs more thoroughly in future.

Snap shots of Daniel November’s Sunbird’s Nest. Picture: Supplied

Ommni Design managing director and one of the new judges for 2022, Nelson Kubheka, said that the overall judging experience was exciting and there were many entries with potential.

“Talent alone is not enough,” said Kubheka.

“Remain teachable, passionate and tenacious in your pursuit for greatness.”

Source Interior Brand Architects creative director and partner Mardre Meyer said areas, where entries could have been stronger, included prioritising the dignity of the future occupants of the residential units they designed, showing an understanding of the needs of these residents, paying attention to practicalities, providing attractive layouts, and addressing the potential for growth (i.e. if unit occupants choose to start a family or wish to expand their space), among other things.

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