Sustainability in building design has won Shuaib Bayat of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) a place at 32nd Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards.

Sustainable building demands architectural design that aims to minimise negative environmental impacts through efficiency and balance in the use of materials, energy and development space. It is a mindful approach to energy and ecological conservation in the creation of the built environment. This was apparent in the designs submitted for the 32nd Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Regional Awards at the University of KwaZulu-Natal according to Dirk Meyer, Corobrik CEO.

Pictured from left to right is Juan Solis from UKZN, this year’s winner Shuaib Bayat with the model of his winning thesis, and Dirk Meyer, CEO of Corobrik.

At this annual competition, the country’s best architectural students from eight participating universities are identified based on their final theses and presented with awards at regional events. The winners of each of the regional competitions then qualify to compete for the national title and a prize of R70 000 at the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards which will be held in Johannesburg in May 2019.

Bayat was named the regional winner for UKZN, receiving a prize of R10 000. Peter Harel is first runner up and Tegan Wright in third place. Meloshan Pillay received the prize for the best use of clay masonry. Bayat’s thesis entitled ‘Exploring solar energy design systems in peri-urban settlements for responsive architecture’ proposes the design of a multipurpose upcycling skills centre in Cato Manor.

“I believe that having a visual stimulus in your environment is important. For example, if I’m walking down the street, I want to see an eclectic mix of buildings that I find exciting to look at rather than a row of uniform ones. Architecture fascinates me, with a desire to explore how science and technology can be used to improve the performance of buildings both socially and environmentally.

“Architecture has brought out the dichotomy of my personality, allowing me to engage both creatively and scientifically with the aesthetic functional aspects of design. Creativity is powerful skill, an intriguing ability evolving from our originalities and perspectives.”

In second place, Harel’s thesis is a beach city surfhub for the Rivertown Precinct located on the edge of Durban’s CBD. The iconic mixed-use building recognises architect and theorist Bjarke Ingel’s, theory of hedonistic sustainability as the building provides infrastructural diversity for the future city of Durban with industrial, environmental and social infrastructural needs.

The topic was chosen to challenge current environmental issues, by attempting to fuse architecture with the principles of surfculture to create a catalyst for dense growth as the building makes use of upcycled and recycled materials for the construction while the roof of the building extends the public realm above the city.

Wright’s thesis is entitled ‘Exploring Food Security as a Catalyst for the Adaptive Reuse of Architecture. Towards an Agricultural Hub in the Inner City of Durban.’

The building design is of an agricultural hub in the inner city of Durban. The dissertation explores the adaptive reuse of an existing nine storey parking structure. This topic was chosen in response to the need to better address issues of food security; revitalise and regenerate our city; and sustainable living.

Pillay’s thesis’ title is ‘A Symbiosis of Bio – Diversity and Architecture: Towards a Centre for Awareness and Research in the uMngeni Precinct.’ He says that growing up in vicinity of the uMngeni Precinct, he saw industrial processes inundating the uMngeni River and its ecosystems, displacing local communities from the natural world.

His architectural design responds to these issues by utilising nature’s processes through ‘high – tech thinking’ with ‘low – tech technologies’ in creating ecological awareness and a platform for research whilst conserving the uMngeni River, its ecosystems and local communities.

Pillay chose to utilise brickwork as it challenges the industrial norm, pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved through this simple adaptive material that addresses human scale and requires more manual labour in its construct, thus creating jobs on a local level.