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Katherine Dewar’s focus on innovation and an appreciation of South Africa’s cultural diversity

Innovation is the standout quality that differentiates design resolutions and helps define architecture as special and appreciated by one’s peers. In sync with context, innovation provides the delight factor permitting architectural design to compete comfortably on the world stage. Technical skill and the ability to create memorable form that draws one in while treading softly on our planet is what puts the finishing touches to sustainable architecture. South African architecture continues to take positive strides also demonstrating an extra creative dimension unique in a country where the shaping of the urban landscape requires an appreciation of the complexities of creating an inclusive built environment.

Musa Shangase, Corobrik Commercial Director presented prizes to architectural students of University of the Witwatersrand on the 30th March 2017. The regional winner of R8 500 was Katherine Dewar, with Samantha Aserman receiving the R6 500 second prize and Robert Dos Santos taking home the third prize of R4 500. The prize of R4 500 for the best use of clay was won by Chamismoyo Parirenyatwa.

Katherine Dewar will represent WITS at the final awards to take place on the 10th May 2017 in Gauteng.

Her thesis is entitled  Hyperembodiment and is an approach to discussing the interface between spaces for women [in Johannesburg’s inner-city] and jewellery as a connector of the body to place.  She proposes the jewellery hub be situated in New Doornfontein, a space that is male dominated and where women are present but seem to be largely excluded, unsafe and vulnerable, is also full of vibrancy and activity.  This area has the potential for a positive and radical cultural change, but currently remains disconnected and uninclusive for all people.

By looking at spaces for women, as well as jewellery being a “location” between the body and architecture, I aim to take an architectural design approach that solves issues of making space for women, and for jewellery practices in Johannesburg,” says Dewar.

Three multi-storey connected buildings on the main pedestrian route on Albertina Sisulu road will be used for the hub and community centre.  The ground floor to offer community spaces and jewellery galleries, and floors above for classrooms and workshops, that embrace, and introduce a space for women to learn, create and engage with each other.

In second place, Samantha Aserman’s thesis is Urban Ritual which is a hydro-ritual space.  Situated along the Natal Spruit canal adjacent to the Kwa Mai Mai market the site provides spaces for the sacred and profane rituals of the Mai Mai people and the Nazareth Baptist church.

These spaces include an open church space and amphitheatre, a baptism pool, church facilities, a workshop and a bathhouse. The spaces make use of the water from the wetland filtration system designed for the canal.

In third place, Robert Dos Santos’s thesis is entitled, PLAY SPACE: no-place becomes the-place where the public become composers.  It is stated in New Town and is a new Music and Performance Centre focussing primarily around an adaptable kinetic theatre space. Dos Santos says, “by bringing music back into the realm of the public, inhabitants of the city become more than just ’users’, but players & performers. Through music, these players can compose their very own song in the ongoing performance of our social life.”

“The award for the best use of clay brick was presented to Chamismoyo  Parirenyatwa his entry entitled “Healthy Spaces, Facilitating Health. Rethinking the role of Healthcare facilities.”

The thesis explores the benefits of holistic healthcare approaches on public primary healthcare facilities (clinic typology), to create healthier healthcare spaces and extending the role of public healthcare facilities in communities. The chosen study area and site is in Kliptown, Soweto.

Parirenyatwa proposes using face brick in internal and external facades of The Public Healthcare Clinic to reduce maintenance costs in the facility. Furthermore, the use of different coloured clay brick pavers were used for the decorated and robust public spaces outside the Clinic. Extending Kliptown’s sense of collective identity through colour as seen in the Kliptown Public Artworks Programme initiatives.

The use Corobrik clay brick pavers in art to enhance a sense of place in Kliptown and further commemorating what was once part of the gateways where South Africa’s Freedom Charter was adopted.

Shangase said that all of the winners had shown a close affinity with their subjects and that their designs both enhanced and integrated with the communities in which they were sited.

Speaking about trends in the profession Shangase said that Corobrik had noticed a resurgence both internationally and locally in the appreciation of clay brick as a material with important flexibility in design and yet with intrinsic sustainable qualities so appropriate for advancing the affordability of government building projects.

Shangase said that the winners in the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards had shown outstanding maturity, innovation and technical skill in their designs which were a credit to the profession in both local and global terms.

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