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The Heritage Portal: an Experiential Narrative’ based at Westfort in Pretoria

The social complexities of a developing country cannot be ignored when blending all the ingredients that go towards achieving world class architectural design that has a profound sense of place and is relevant to its environment. Consequently, innovation is an essential attribute for modern architects as they employ their technical skills to create aesthetically appealing and functional built structures that will endure into the future.

“We expect new and distinctive ideas from the students, in addition to a high standard of technical skills, creative flair, a good grasp of sustainability issues and a clear understanding of the role a built structure is expected to fulfil in its environment,” said Musa Shangase, Corobrik Commercial & Marketing Director.

The competition begins with regional competitions at eight major universities throughout South Africa and culminates in a national award ceremony for the overall winner in Johannesburg.

The eight regional winners automatically qualify to compete for the R50 000 national prize which will be presented at the 30th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards in Johannesburg.

Yvonne Bruinette of the University of Pretoria, who lives in Lynnwood, Pretoria was named the regional winner of R8 500, Ryan Taylor won second prize of R6 500, while Abigail Barnard received the third prize of R4 500. A R4 500 prize for the best use of clay masonry was also presented to Michelle Whitaker

Yvonne Bruinette’s   winning thesis is entitled. ‘The Heritage Portal: an Experiential Narrative’ based at Westfort in Pretoria.

Yvonne Bruinette said, “It is my belief that the greater purpose of architecture is to design for the human experience. Yet, one of the biggest challenges perhaps, is to accommodate change.”

With an interest in how architecture adapts over time, this dissertation is a response to the on-going process of ruination and isolation within highly contested continuums of change.

The site, Westfort is situated in the western outskirts of Pretoria and just before the outbreak of World War 2, the fort was dismantled, stripped for its steel and left to fall into ruin. The site also includes the former Westfort Leper Institution which since its closure in 1997, has been illegally occupied by informal settlers. Today, it still functions as a segregated community and together with the Fort, illustrates the consequences of ruination and isolation over time.

Since its closure in 1997, informal settlers illegally occupied the buildings and adapted the site to accommodate their needs. It functions as a self-sustaining village and with the Fort, illustrates the consequences of ruination and isolation over time.

Bruinette proposes a Heritage Portal that will act as the mediator in celebrating the continuity of our collective and continuous South African heritage. The intention of the project is to protect the heritage significance of the Westfort precinct, secure its future value, and introduce continuity through experiential architecture.

In second place Ryan Taylor’s thesis is entitled ‘Celebrating the unseen’ A public interface for the infrastructure of Hartbeespoort Dam

He says, “Water is the most valuable natural resource on this earth. It is vital to humans’ existence but there is a growing disconnection between man and nature. This has divorced humans from an understanding of the role and importance of natural water systems.”

The project created a regenerative infrastructure that facilitates exchanges between site, existing infrastructure and the user.

Abigail Barnard received third place for her entry. The Scientist, the collector and the treasure hunter which is ‘A knowledge centre for the Cradle of Humankind.’

Best use of clay masonry is awarded to Michelle Whitaker for ‘Re-Imagining Primary Healthcare Provision in South Africa’ situated in Moreleta Park, Pretoria East.

This dissertation intended to highlight the disparities that exist between public and private healthcare delivery sectors in South Africa.

The research investigated an alternative approach to primary healthcare provision in South Africa, one which considers a primarily preventative take on healthcare provision as opposed to a solely curative approach and explores the potential of architecture in assisting in the healing process.

The use of brick as the main construction material was considered for its affordability, durability and haptic and tactile qualities in the mental and emotional wellbeing of the users of the facility.

Musa Shangase said that clay brick masonry brought a myriad of benefits to a building project including low maintenance, durability, long-term life performance and energy efficiency, reducing the heating and cooling costs of buildings, along with providing a healthy and comfortable living environment.

He said that another major advantage of clay brick was its capacity for both recycling and reuse which was the case during the rejuvenation of an Amafa heritage site, where a combination of bricks from the demolished sections were used along with carefully selected new Corobrik bricks to blend the old and new buildings seamlessly.

“Clay brick’s versatility and aesthetic qualities make it ideal to enhance and harmonise with any environment for ultra-modern projects as well as the sensitive renovations of landmark period buildings,” concluded Shangase.

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