Samuel Pellissier from the University of the Free State was announced regional winner of the 32nd Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award with his dissertation entitled Lamu: An Architectural Investigation of Time and Place.
Having collected a cheque for R10 000, Pellissier now forms part of the eight young architects from major universities around the country who will be recognised for their talent an innovation throughout 2018. The winners of each regional competition will then go head to head for the national Architectural Student of the Year Award and prize money of R70 000. This will be announced in Johannesburg in May 2019.
Corobrik commercial director Musa Shangase said that Pellissier’s dissertation covered many of the imperatives that challenge the architects of the future – sustainability, energy and water efficiency as well as aesthetic appeal, authenticity and relevance.
Pellissier says that while touring eastern Africa on a bicycle in early 2017, he came across an ancient Swahili port city called Lamu. This World Heritage site resonates with the rhythms of time, and the rich culture of its people identifies the place.
As an outsider, he became a student of the ways of Lamu, the religion, the lifestyle and the culture, with specific interest in the traditional methods of Dhow-building and donkey transportation. The aim was to design an architectural response that accommodates these methods, while respecting the cultural heritage.
The remote location of Lamu provided practical challenges which were resolved by using building techniques and materials, known to the island, in a newly imagined way that aims to inspire, rather than prescribe.
The designed building consists of dry-docks for Dhow repairs and building, a workshop for finer crafts such as sail making and furniture weaving, and a sanctuary for donkeys to be looked after. This thesis became a place where the dweller, the Dhow and the donkey can come to find repairs and sanctuary.