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Samuel Pellissier of University of Free State’s travels inspire the winning Corobrik architectural regional award

Creativity and innovation go hand in hand – and recognising excellence in design comes naturally to Corobrik which is leading the way when it comes to investing in technology that will have a massive impact on South Africa’s future built environment.
 
Musa Shangase, Corobrik Commercial Director said that he was proud to announce that regional Samuel Pellissier from the University of the Free State was the regional winner of the 32nd Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award with his dissertation entitled Lamu: An Architectural Investigation of Time and Place
 
 
He  collected a cheque for R10 000 while Phadi Mabe won second prize of R8 000 and Jonel de Wet received the third prize of R6 000. A R6 000 prize for the best use of clay masonry was also presented to Eugenie Lombard.
 
Samuel Pellissier  will be one of eight young architects from major universities around the country who will be recognised for their talent an innovation throughout this year. 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.
 
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. 
 
Clay brick, which is durable, non-toxic, reusable, energy and thermally efficient and low maintenance, is manufactured using some the latest technology including eco-friendly gas fired kilns which minimise energy usage and emissions. 
 
Samuel 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.  This determined the cornerstones of Pellissier’s thesis as Time and 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 project has aspired to portray something similar to Breyten Breytenbach’s theory of the “Middle world”, an in-between place that accommodates the dweller where he might find himself between land and see.
 
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.
 
In second place, Phadi Mabe’s thesis is entitled ‘A Reliquary for the Reverence of Ordinaries.’ 
 
The Reliquary for the Reverence of Ordinaries is a 1-kilometre museum suspended and submerged across three racially, politically and religiously segregated cemeteries in Bloemfontein. The museum acts as a counter-monument to elitist monuments by monumentalising the lives of ordinary people buried and yet to be buried at the segregated cemetery.
 
The Architecture of Fear: A Phobia Treatment Centre is Jonel de Wet’s thesis.  She says, “today, many of the spaces we inhabit are grounded in and influenced by fear.  Cities have become associated with fear rather than with safety. Therefore, a Phobia Treatment Centre is proposed within the CBD of Bloemfontein. This project investigates architecture to overcome modern fears and anxieties related to urbanism.”
 
Eugenie Lombard’s  Mystic Avenue is a social corridor, close to Second Avenue, a socially vibrant street in Westdene, Bloemfontein. The topic arose from the observation that social spaces such within Westdene are no longer contributing to the social image Bloemfontein traditionally presented. Due to constant change in its urban scene, Second Avenue has lost its function as the main place of social gathering. The importance of entertainment in cities warrants an investigation into how architecture can encourage social interaction and contribute to the city through preserving the nightlife scene.
 
Lombard said she chose the texture and dark colour of Onyx Satin clay bricks and pavers created the essential backdrop needed to define specific social spaces. Aesthetically pleasing facades and interiors were achieved by infill brick walls framed by the main steel structure.
 
 
Shangase  said that Corobrik had also taken a similar innovative approach when launching its new black and white face bricks which will open up a whole new world of high-definition, contemporary design for South African architects.
 
He said that the launch of the new Black Brick was in response to requests from architects who had seen black brick used to stunning effect in building designs in the United Kingdom, Europe and America.   While most other bricks require the addition of a two percent mineral colour pigment, Black Bricks require 10 percent.  
Up until recently, Corobrik’s production system didn’t allow for the additional quantity of pigment that was required.
 
However, sophisticated research and development changed this. New machinery was introduced to facilitate the production of the Black Brick and also created new avenues for Corobrik to develop additional new products, including a white brick, at its facility in Midrand.
 
Globally, the introduction of innovative new face bricks has taken this tried and tested building material from the realm of more conservative and even historical buildings into the new age of modern, dramatic architecture. The combination with other textures and colours has given many buildings a powerful contemporary signature that extends from striking to elegant while the use of new mortars, different bonds and contrasting patterns has opened up a whole world of new possibilities in brick architecture.
 
Caption:   Samuel Pellissier of the University of the Free State is the 2018 regional finalist of the 32nd Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards.  He is pictured receiving his award from Musa Shangase, Corobrik Commercial Director.  The winning model of the thesis entitled Lamu: An Architectural Investigation of Time and Place is pictured in the foreground.