Recognising architects of the future

Recognising architects of the future

Riaan Huiskens, centre, who won the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year regional finals, with Mike Willard and Adri Oliphant of Corobrik.

At the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year regional finals in Port Elizabeth, Mike Willard, Corobrik area sales manager, Eastern Cape said: “As a leading manufacturer of clay brick and related products, Corobrik is firmly committed to innovation and excited about being at the forefront of change.

“Through supporting our tertiary institutions as they develop and realise new talent in the architectural space, we are essentially investing in the future of the built environment. At the same time, we have introduced new technology into this space and are committed to developing new products that will become the tools through which the architects of the future will craft their legacies.

The winning dissertation, entitled The design of a 3D printing facility in Central, Port Elizabeth, was submitted by Riaan Huiskens, who won a prize of R10 000 and will represent his tertiary institution at the final competition to be held on May 8.

In second place, receiving an award of R8 000, was Camryn Cochrane and in third place was Devon Diesel, who received R6 000.

An award for the best use of clay brick in a thesis was presented to Oghenetejiri Akpokinivo, who received R6 000.

In discussing his winning thesis, Huiskens says: “High-tech architecture is moving towards a paradigm shift with the development and incorporation of digital fabrication technology. This interest is extended into the discussion of recycling existing infrastructure. In this treatise, a topic which ties into both the heritage and ecological discourse. It recognises the significance of historical urban elements and the finite quality of heritage resources within the city.

“A historical building used as a host for the design of a 3D printing facility invites a dialogue between architecture of the old and the expression of the new. The Premier Mill Building is identified as an historical urban artefact and the programme complements the historical background of the building, which was a granary. The primary architectural exploration focuses on the possibilities offered by 3D printing in the making and expression of architecture. The nature of the facility organises function before sign, meaning the initial architecture lies in the systematic operations of the facility as a place of digital fabrication. Therefore, it focuses on successfully incorporating existing infrastructure as functioning components to the system. Secondly the building is a sign of its function, a visual opportunity for a new architecture to reflect the nature of the facility.”

Cochrane’s project is the design of a memorial park and promatorium complex for Humewood Extension, Port Elizabeth. She proposes the construction of a promatorium on the oil tank farm and manganese ore terminal in the harbour precinct. By reclaiming the denatured landscape and re-scripting it as a culturally significant area that is re-integrated into the public realm, the opportunity to rehabilitate the ecological flows of the city will be realised. The design of a promatorium complex within the proposed memorial park aims to re-introduce the funerary landscape into the city and in doing so challenges the threat of cemeteries remaining as devoid spaces.

Diesel’s project is The design of the Nelson Mandela Presidential Library on Constitution Hill, Johannesburg.

He says: “My interest in the analysis of the city as a product of social legacy led me to a thesis that is concerned with the ability of landscape architecture to generate social equitability in the city. This thesis is the design of a Presidential Library for Nelson Mandela, on a defunct site to the north of the Constitutional Court, in Hillbrow Johannesburg

Best use of clay award was presented to Akpokinivo for her thesis entitled Identity, Culture, Architecture – the design of a Chinese Culture School in Morningside Kageba, Port Elizabeth. Akpokinivo studied the fragility of the South-African Chinese community: their double heritage, quest for a sense of place and permanence. She proposed the establishment of Chinese schools to maintain the Chinese culture and act as a repository of cultural expression, identity and value systems of a society.

Willard said that, as clay brick dated back as far as 7 500 BC and was used by the Egyptians and the Roman Empire, it would be tempting to believe that it was a product that did not need to move with the times and adapt to new challenges in the built environment.

“But nothing could be further from the truth. Even though the intrinsic qualities of clay brick – thermal properties that help regulate heat and cold and conserve energy, durability, non-toxicity, reusability, helping to minimise noise in the built environment and more – haven’t changed through the centuries and continue to address some of the biggest challenges of our times, it is how we embrace these properties going into the future that matters more than ever,” he said.

Technology is crucial here and Corobrik recently commissioned the latest Building Information Modelling (BIM) files which can now be downloaded from its website by architects and other property development professionals.

“Today’s young professionals are looking to rapid and meaningful solutions backed by superior technology and connectivity. BIM represents a new way of working based on a far broader and shared intelligent technological platform that is compatible with all architectural software,” Willard said.

Another means of remaining relevant has been through research and development and investment in new machinery at Corobrik’s Midrand facility to produce innovative new products, including the new Black Brick.

“This takes face brick into the new age of modern, dramatic architecture. When combined with other textures and colours or even used alone, these exciting new products help create a powerful contemporary signature. The use of new mortars, different bonds and contrasting patterns has opened up a whole world of new possibilities in brick architecture,” said Willard.