Decolonising architecture with a hybrid theory of image, culture and space through the design of a land redistribution hub in Tshwane proved a winning theme for student Tlhologello Sesana from the Tshwane University of Technology. It was chosen the regional winner as part of the 34th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards at an event held at the Pretoria Art Museum on 11 December.
Entitled ‘A REVOLUTION’, the idea was born of a desire to narrate a forgotten African history and suppressed African ability. “As a result, in conceptualising my thesis, I treated land as a standing witness to the evolution and aggregation of history, with the result that 90% of the proposal is below the ground so as to remember the past through the surviving layers of earth,” explains Tlhologello.
She points out that the importance of the awards lies in its ability to give students a platform to showcase their architectural talent through pushing the boundaries of creativity, and one which they otherwise would not have had thanks to the involvement of Corobrik. “I am ecstatic, excited and humbled. There is also a sense of satisfaction and optimism, too. It is really such an honour and a privilege, as it means I get the opportunity to project my vision on a national platform. Thank you to Corobrik for its continued support and sponsorship.”
Billed as one of the most prestigious awards programmes of its kind in South Africa, the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards selects regional winners from eight major universities, based on the students’ final theses. These regional winners then go through to the national round, where the top title is awarded, in addition to a R70 000 grand prize.
In terms of challenges, Tlhologello highlights that the architectural curriculum is often specific and rigid. “My project was initially perceived as very controversial, so I received a lot of pushback while trying to articulate and formalise it. I will say life has an interesting way of nudging one towards a particular trajectory. I do hope to honour this calling with honest conviction and pride in my African heritage.”
A major advantage in this regard was finding the best supervisors, who allowed Tlhologello to express herself fully and guided her. “I dream of a future where architecture is flexible; where its aesthetic is not elitist and not informed by narrow ideals; and where everyone, regardless of their available resources, is able to achieve a decent standard of housing and ultimately living.”
As for the future, Tlhologello hopes to be afforded the opportunity to work with the government in order to help progressively realise humane standards of housing for people. “I would also really like to work hand in hand with communities to formalise their unique architectural techniques and approaches, by helping them maximise the use of the materials (raw and otherwise) available to them.”
Corobrik has long played a pivotal role in recognising up-and-coming young architects in South Africa, notes Marketing Support Manager Thilo Sidambaram, who herself has been involved with the awards for two decades. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that all regional and national events have had to be held remotely. “Despite the challenges posed, the country’s architectural students have still managed to excel, and Corobrik is proud to continue to support our universities during this difficult period.”
34th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards: TUT
Winner Tlhologello Sesana R10 000
1st Runner-Up Godmire Mufuka R8 000
2nd Runner-Up Juan Pierre Albasini R6 000
Best Use of Clay Masonry Katlego Lebethe R6 000
Look out for the National Corobrik Student of the Year Awards ceremony that will take place virtually in May.