Official judging panel announced for PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative 2023

Entries have closed for the 2023 edition of PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative, and judging is currently underway. A panel of five industry specialists will be evaluating submissions received from third-year architecture and interior design students at institutions around the country, with the awards ceremony set to take place on 12 October 2023.

PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative 2023 - World of desire is the theme this year.

The competition, first launched in 1992, aims to showcase the work of up-and-coming architecture and interior design students, and offer them the opportunity to tackle a real-world brief, competing for a cash prize of R50 000 for the winner and their lecturer, R25 000 for the runner-up and R10 000 for third-place.

2023 judging panel

  • Carla Soudien: Project Architect and Urban Planner for studioMAS Architects and Urban Designers, Soudien is based in the company’s Johannesburg office. She completed her architecture degrees at UCT (in 2003 and 2006 respectively) and in 2019 completed her Masters in Urban and Regional Planning. Her focus area within the practice is projects with a social impact and is currently designing schools and affordable housing schemes.
  • Nelson Kubheka: Founder of Ommni Design, a company offering a full turnkey tailored design solution, from conceptual design to technical documentation and site implementation in the workplace, hospitality and residential sectors. Kubheka obtained his National Diploma in Interior Design in 2008 at Cape Peninsula University of Technology and began working as a junior designer at Source Interior Brand Architects (Source IBA), with projects including high-end hospitality and workplaces. He worked his way up to becoming an associate and then partner at Source IBA, working on key hospitality and office projects locally and across Africa.
  • Livia Coetzee: A shareholder, director, and the Creative Director at DHQ Interior Brand Architects. Coetzee has more than 18 years’ design experience in the retail and hospitality sector and possesses an innate desire to conceptualise and craft experiences in line with the brand and brief.
  • to Mardré Meyer: Following a career in PR and media, Meyer’s passion for realising the full potential of brands continues in his work at Source Interior Brand Architecture. As Creative Director he ensures that the integrity of the concept is upheld and developed to its maximum. His involvement covers all aspects of the project starting from the initial concept narrative, through design development and includes FF&E and finishes. Mardré has worked on projects ranging from large-scale hospitality developments, through boutique work environments to affordable housing schemes and exhibition stands. 
  • Henk Marais: Henk is a founding member and director of Cape Town based Connect Architects. Henk has more than 2 decades of experience in the architecture industry with a focus on high-end residential, commercial and mixed-use projects. Henk has designed and delivered countless top quality buildings and has a thorough understanding of the full spectrum required to take projects from inception to completion, with all the complexities of taking an idea to implementation. Henk finds his passion in connecting with all the people involved in projects and understands the importance of teamwork between all parties. Henk’s keen eye for quality design and detail, coupled with his practical approach to problem solving has ensured his delivery of excellent projects resulting in happy clients.

2023 competition brief

Themed #WorldsOfDesire, the 2023 brief asked students at participating institutions (where the brief is written into third-year curricula) to imagine and design the ultimate luxury desert oasis in the heart of the arid Tankwa Karoo. View the brief here.

“The 2023 brief recognises how social media reaches beyond the digital sphere and affects the physical world,” explains Nombuso Mwelase, Communications Manager at PG Bison. “We’ve taken the idea of a wealthy content creator who wants to invest in creating a space in the Tankwa Karoo that they can rent out to film and photography crews and other social media content creators and asked students to create an entertainment oasis that’s visually appealing, with interesting “Instagrammable” architectural and design features, as well as being water smart.”

Students interpreting the brief need to meet various criteria in their submissions, including using the existing building on the site as an anchor point and using PG Bison products within appropriate internal spaces. Most importantly, they must celebrate the basic human needs of eating, sleeping, bathing and socialising through the elements of earth, fire, air and water. With the site located in a desert, the clever use of water provides a challenging aspect to the brief.

“With 19 institutions taking part this year, the entries we’ve received are very exciting, and we look forward to the judges’ feedback,” says Mwelase. “We thank our judging panel for giving of their valuable time and expertise to help make our initiative a success, and we look forward to announcing our top 10 finalists in the next few weeks.”

For more information, visit the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative website,

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