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Regional winner designing her way to Architectural Student of the Year Award
2016-03-09

Description: Corobrik award Tags: Corobrik award

Musa Shangase, Corobrik Commercial and Marketing Director, and Nilene van Niekerk.

For 29 years, Corobrik has been celebrating the most outstanding architectural talent in South Africa. This year, Nilene van Niekerk – a master’s graduate of the University of the Free State (UFS) Department of Architecture – features as one of the regional winners.

Deciding on a dissertation topic, Nilene contemplated how she could use architecture as a tool to address a non-architectural contemporary problem specific to post-apartheid democratic South Africa. Her answer was born from her passion for freedom of speech. “Freedom of speech and the intimidation of journalists by the controversial Secrecy Bill were at the forefront these past few years,” Nilene says. “Although freedom of expression are generally protected practices in South Africa’s constitution, the persistent role of the government to protect state information is a substantial threat to citizens’ constitutional right of freedom of expression.”

This resulted in Nilene’s dissertation topic, Freedom of Expression Forum. This architectural concept envision a building, in the vicinity of Constitutional Hill, that symbolises protest against the Secrecy Bill. The building will provide “protection to journalists and become a pivotal point where classified information can be sent and archived. It will also establish a public space that encourages communication – all in the name of fostering the right of freedom of expression within this human rights precinct,” Nilene says.

Nilene will now go on to compete for the national title at the Corobrik Student Architect of the Year Awards in Johannesburg in May 2016.

“The project also rethinks the idea of sustainability as it focuses on how to contribute to a sustainable political future in South Africa. I believe that we as architects, especially in a third world country, should think beyond the normative boundaries of sustainability,” Nilene says.

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