Corobrik pays tribute to its judges at its 37th Student Architecture Awards

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Leading brickmaker Corobrik is an industry leader with a long history of supporting and advocating for the architectural profession. “We understand that supporting students is a necessary catalyst for growth and sustainable transformation of the sector,” says Corobrik CEO Nick Booth. It is why its Student Architecture Awards continue to attract some of the country’s top architects as judges.

This year saw the 37th Corobrik Student Architecture Awards take place in Kramerville, Johannesburg at a gala event that was also livestreamed. Winner of the R70 000 Grand Prize was Arran Wood from the University of the Free State. Gideon Williams from Nelson Mandela University clinched a Special Commendation, while Taryn Glazebrook from the University of Pretoria received an award for Best Use of Brick.

The Corobrik Student Architecture Awards provide an industry-respected platform for the celebration of excellence in the profession and motivates students and professionals alike to pursue distinction in their work. The invited judges freely invest considerable time and effort in the adjudication process.

The finalists are selected from the eight major universities, based on the students’ Architectural Master’s theses from the class of 2023. This year’s judges were Carin Smuts from CS Studio Architects, Somers Govender from Artek 4 Architects and Rudolf Roos from HDG Pretoria.

“Corobrik has a history of supporting not only architectural students, but the entire built environmental professionals, and it is an honour to give something back,” says Smuts. CS Studio Architects was informally established when she was a third-year architectural student at the University of Cape Town. Today the practice works for and with people doing exciting work that improves the quality of life. “This keeps me passionate about architecture.”

Smuts adds that the Corobrik Student Architecture Awards expose performing students to the world out there. “This exposure is really important. Inspiring and supporting young people as Corobrik does is extremely important.”

Being a finalist and a winner allows young architects to experience the process of presenting themselves and their ideas. “This is something you have to do as an architect for the rest of your life, therefore it builds confidence.” Smuts says that, in the adjudication process, she was looking for “something new, unique, and different. The project should add value to its users.”

Govender says it is an honour to be invited to be a judge of the Corobrik Student Architecture Awards. “The future of architecture is at the cusp of revolution. I am so very interested in how the young generation is applying their minds and philosophy towards the next holistic architectural evolution.”

At Artek 4 Architects, Govender is fully committed to sustainability and identity. “It has been quite an arduous journey thus far. Our architecture tends towards modernism probing for a local vernacular in building profile, local aspirations, and material selection.”

Govender adds it is critical to reward the ideas and thoughts of the best students from each university to promote excellence in the study of architecture. Affirmation of effort and talent will spur the overall quality of architecture for the future generation.

However, it is not just about winning. “The winning is the result of the desire, the journey, the torment, the tenacity, the conviction and finally the courage to be judged. All the finalists are winners! The margins are fine! The students’ young careers will continue to blossom if they continue with the resolve that has gained them such an honourable accolade,” explains Govender.

“It is important that Corobrik continues to support the promotion of architectural excellence. The architectural community is grateful.” Govender says his criteria for a winning project are originality, debate, controversial, experiment, sensibility, and risk.

Roos remarks that the Corobrik Student Architecture Awards is a prestigious event that he is proud to be a part of. “Awards provide incentives to students and Schools of Architecture alike to be recognised and to be exceptional in what they do,” he adds. Being a finalist and ultimately a winner makes a difference in that everyone wants to be associated with success, with the possibility of being offered superior positions with future opportunities.

A master’s dissertation should be a logical approach from abstract to conclusion, indicating primary and secondary research; the art of making architecture, perhaps in tandem with other disciplines, all executed with a measure of technical competence, elaborates Roos.

His career at HDG Pretoria “is somewhat of a lifestyle influencing many of the things I do every day. Each project demands a fresh approach or to be looked at through a different lens; the integration of numerous elements, drawing from specific knowledge and experience to create ultimately bespoke architecture that is human-centred and driven by responsible design practices. Resourceful thinking, and in case of our practice, integration of technical construction techniques and fitment of high-level equipment is paramount.”

To view the winning regional projects and to watch the livestream of the event on 10 May visit: www.studentawards.corobrik.co.za.

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