With the awards ceremony for the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative taking place this week, we’d like to introduce to you the finalists for this year’s design competition, which involved devising a plan to redevelop the historic Johannesburg Gas Works  incorporating the new thinking behind a modern city and converting it into a beacon that encourages community interaction, historic architectural preservation, environmental awareness and healthy living.

Luzuko Funda

Lecturer: Donald Flint, Nelson Mandela School of Architecture

Luzuko is studying a B-Tech in Architectural Technology. His goal is to improve “architecture as a whole into something more creative than it is now”. When asked what inspired him in his field Luzuko answered: “As a student who comes from the small towns I met a great mentor Mr. Sindile Ngonyama – he is the leading director at Ngonyama Okpanum & Associates who came to my school when I was doing Grade 11, and he told me his background where he came from, but defied all the challenges that were meant to discourage him, and I introspected my life and told myself I would defy the odds of my background and instead dream big and achieve in life.”

PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative

Melandri Cloete

Lecturer: Jean Wiid, Greenside Design Centre

Melandri is studying Interior Design and has “a passion for designing beautiful spaces and impacting the lives of people in a specific environment”. “With this particular degree, I am continuously expanding my knowledge and creativity levels,” she says. “I have a passion for modifying raw spaces into something appealing. I truly believe that with good design, any space, no matter its condition, has the potential to create a sense of peacefulness, contenders and joy.”

PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative

Navan Padayachee

Lecturer: Lawrence Ogunsanya, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal

Navan is studying architecture. “The reason I chose architecture is that I have always been creative and passionate about art, which I still do during my free time,” he says.  “I wanted to be involved in the construction field, yet I also wanted to incorporate my artistic talents and explore this further, so I turned to architecture as I felt that this was a combination of both. In this field, I get to turn visions into reality and not many people have this opportunity in their respective fields.”

PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative

Neo Allan Marule

Lecturers: Donald Flint & Barry Bradley, Nelson Mandela School of Architecture

Neo sees architecture as the perfect balance of art and science, and finds it very hard to imagine himself studying anything other than architecture. Neo is inspired by “the beauty of creating spaces that have a lasting impact on how people experience life”. He admires the work of Australian architect Glenn Murcutt, who is known for his its environmentally sensitive designs. “He has had a great impact in how I see architecture now,” says Neo. “His sensitive approach to architecture is a beautiful philosophy.” He says that he wants to be “a professional architect that creates delightful spaces for people, mostly in rural villages where not much attention is given to them. Whenever I visit my grandmother in Kaphunga, a small village in Swaziland, I always see the need for that in areas like those.”

PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative

Oudish Appadoo

Lecturer: Lawrence Ogunsanya, University of KwaZulu Natal

Oudish is an architecture student, originally from Mauritius. “The most beautiful aspect of architecture as a profession is how the industry embraces the individuality of each person,” he says. “Of course, designing buildings is in itself a fulfilling creative pursuit; but even beyond that you are allowed, and in fact encouraged, to have a style which can manifest beyond your work.” Oudish admires the work of the late British Iranian architect Zaha Hadid. “In her best buildings, the laws of physics appear momentarily suspended,” he says. “Walls melt into floors, ceilings ripple and bulge, facades dissolve into perforated skins and flowing veils, transporting the visitor to another dimension. They can feel like sublime landscapes, sculpted by an irresistible geological force.”

PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative

Fathima Bibi Mula

Lecturer: Lawrence Ogunsanya, University of KwaZulu Natal

Architecture student Fathima says, “I’m always fascinated with the way different cultures express themselves in different ways and how that relates to the built form. Art, history, along with architecture (Archdaily’s my best friend) are definitely my go-to before anything else.” She is a huge admirer of the work of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. “I’ve always admired the subtle elegance of Japanese architecture and I love his choice of materiality and manipulation of light and shadow to affect the space within,” she says. What part of the brief did you enjoy working on the most? “The site chosen was beautiful and rustic and I was excited to see how my intervention could bring life back to the space.”

PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative

Juan de Villiers

Lecturers: Donald Flint & Barry Bradley, Nelson Mandela School of Architecture

Juan, an architecture student who grew up in Queenstown, says, “ I believe that architecture is nothing more than art. Art can give you a new perspective on your view of the world and can be a great source of inspiration. The story it tells and how that specific artwork makes you feel. While architecture evokes all these unique characteristics and personality, It also serves a great function.” He points out that he is also interested in the ways in which architecture affects “memories through experiences in different buildings”. He says that the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative inspiring students “to strive more and make better opportunities of what lies ahead by having a new way of thinking”.

PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative

Kayla Vieira

Lecturer: Nicole Mason, Vega Johannesburg

Kayla is an interior design student who is inspired by “transforming spaces into experiences”. She has been interested in design from a young age and grew up watching TV shows like “Devine Design” which came to shape her career path. Speaking of the brief for the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative, she said, “I enjoyed the conceptual freedom that the brief allowed for. There weren’t many constraints with regards to technicality, allowing for the students to explore many concepts.”

PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative

Rene von Abo

Lecturer: Imraan Begg, Inscape Education Group, Cape Town

Interior design student Rene says that studying at Inscape has opened up a world of opportunities for her. “Being able to challenge the depths of my creativity and design skills on a daily basis has really allowed me to grow and develop a unique approach,” she says. “The impact that interior design has on the lifestyle of society really inspires and drives me within this field, especially in an urban setting where the masses spend an increased amount of time indoors.” She says that the most challenging part of the brief was finding “that golden thread that brings the variety of concepts and designs together into one space that best represents the context”.

PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative

Giorgia Mitton

Lecturer: Anel Joubert, Design Time School of Interior Design

Giorgia, who is studying interior design says that she aims to find design inspiration in life.  “The possibilities of design are endless,” she says. “One design has the ability to be so different from another – there are no limitations and no design/client will ever be the same. This makes this field forever exciting, diverse and challenging.” She says that the challenge of creating a space that didn’t compete with the existing building was the most interesting part of the brief for the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative. “The challenge is to find a perfect balance between old and new, which I believe can be achieved through creating a timeless space.”

PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative