A final-year thesis entitled ‘Hyperreal Perspicuities: Multi-Narrative Reconstructions of Modern Egypt’ saw student Kamal Ranchod win the first regional event of the 34th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards in a virtual ceremony on 27 November 2020.
The project investigates drawing as representation and develops prototypes in the form of drawings, instruments and immersive videos. These prototypes develop modes of representation that subvert linear viewpoints and illustrate the multiplicity of narratives embedded within space, explains Kamal. Focusing on modern Egypt between 1827 and 1952, the project uses drawing to construct “the hidden hauntings of colonialism and modernisation across three main historical events,” namely the Battle of Navarino, the Bombardment of Alexandria and the 1952 Cairo Fire.
Kamal has come a long way since a book that illustrated the work of famous Catalan Modernism proponent Antoni Gaudi inspired him to study architecture. “I feel honoured and privileged, especially to be considered among so many other incredible projects,” he says about his regional win. “It means a great deal because of the opportunity to share the work and create awareness around the ideas of the different projects with so many different people.”
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.
“There is great significance in awards like this. Corobrik offers a platform for engagement. This engagement is crucial in discussing and exploring ideas concerning design and practice while also fostering synergetic relationships between different building disciplines,” comments Kamal.
“My role models are all the amazing people around me, from friends to students to lecturers. They have all inspired me to think in different ways, and have always been an incredible source of support. I am inspired by all their different ideas and ways of working, which have been instrumental for my project.
“My biggest challenge has simultaneously been one of my biggest opportunities. Completing my architectural studies all the way from undergrad to Master’s has been a great challenge. It has taken a great deal of patience, time and effort. The journey, however, has been life-changing and the lessons learned invaluable.”
Kamal says his dream for the future is “to leave behind something that can be useful to others.” In terms of giving back to the local community, he will strive to be of service, to listen and to add value to the lives of local residents.
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: UJ
Winner Kamal Ranchod R10 000
Joint 2nd & 3rd Prize Karabo Moumakwe R7 000
Joint 2nd & 3rd Prize Sarah Harding R7 000
Best Use of Clay Masonry Leo Da Silva Chicwambi R6 000
Look out for the National Corobrik Student of the Year Awards ceremony that will take place virtually in May.