The winner of the 2021 Corobrik Student Architecture Awards was announced on 8 June 2022 at a special event at the Radisson RED in Rosebank, Johannesburg. The 2021 national winner, announced live, was Mpho Sephelane from the School of Architecture at the University of Cape Town, who received a R70 000 cash prize.
The thesis by Mpho was entitled ‘Re[covering] Place: African ways of seeing, thinking and making as a call to rethink and remake places in cities’. The judges’ citation stated that Mpho “shifted our mindsets to trust our heritage to guide us and to be truly authentic. She narrated the use of the Basotho blanket as a transformative and imaginative symbol of identity and relevance.”
“The opportunity afforded to me has validated a lot of what my fellow students, especially people who connect with their culture, have been struggling with, and that is the issue of translating who they are and what their culture entails and the values they bring to their everyday lives and professions,” said Mpho. “The journey is really a beginning for me as I am excited to continue to collaborate and learn from other cultures about such ideas of translation and preservation.”
The 35th national awards ceremony was unique in that all seven regional winners and the heads of school from their respective universities, together with leaders from the architectural fraternity, were in attendance in person for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Master of Ceremonies Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp opened proceedings by stating it was an honour to be part of “one of the biggest architectural awards programmes in the country let alone the world, with our universities representing South Africa on an international stage.”
Guest speaker Cliff Gouws, a senior architect and urban designer at Boogertman + Partners, was the Corobrik Student Architecture national winner in 2011 and told guests and finalists there was a definite improvement in the quality of the work being presented every year. Cliff added a note of thanks to Corobrik for hosting such a prestigious event that upheld a high standard that everyone in the industry could look up to.
“What Corobrik is doing for the architectural fraternity is fantastic. The quality of South African architecture is better than what we realise. We have phenomenal architectural practices that do phenomenal work. Our student work competes at an international level.”
A special prize for the best use of clay face brick in a project was awarded to Wian Jordaan from the Department of Architecture at the University of Pretoria. An overwhelming four of the seven regional winners used face brick in their projects. However, this is not a criterion to clinch the overall prize.
The event was livestreamed on Corobrik’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, with Corobrik CEO Nick Booth welcoming all and highlighting that the leading clay brick and paving manufacturer “has been investing in the architects of the future for the last 35 years and will continue to do so.” Corobrik Chairman Peter du Trevou added that the awards were a personal highlight for him to attend and congratulate the finalists and hand out the grand prize to the worthy recipient.
You can watch the livestreamed awards ceremony below: