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Student architect scoops top award for PE waste picker project

Home Infrastructure Construction & Civils Student architect scoops top award for PE waste picker project

A project focused on waste pickers was declared a regional winner of the 34th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards from the School of Architecture at Nelson Mandela University (NMU).

Winning student Blake Smit said the project looked at creating a dignified place for people to recycle waste within the harsh landscape of the Arlington landfill in Port Elizabeth. It incorporated waste building material and building rubble in the form of reclaimed brick and clay products, which were used in unique ways within the design process.

“Architecture and design have been my passion from a young age. Architecture has the ability to mend issues that we have faced, are facing and more importantly are still going to face,” said Smit who took home a R10 000 prize.

The awards select regional winners from eight major universities, based on the students’ final theses. These regional winners then go through to the national round, where the top title is awarded, in addition to a R70 000 grand prize.

“The interest shown by companies like Corobrik in an academic environment sets a particular standard. This interest gives an extra dynamic to a fifth-year academic mindset, and at the same time creates a feeling of outside interest and acknowledgement from a place beyond the academic realm,” Smit said.

His dream for the future is “to meet passionate people and be part of great ideas and to make a positive impact through whatever opportunity is presented to me. Knowing that architecture has the ability to involve people that come from various backgrounds and cultures, I hope to someday create that very opportunity for my local community”.

Corobrik Marketing Support Manager Thilo Sidambaram, who has been involved with the awards for two decades, said the Covid-19 pandemic meant that all regional and national events have had to be held remotely. “Despite the challenges posed, the country’s architectural students have still managed to excel, and Corobrik is proud to continue to support our universities during this difficult period,” she said.

The other NMU finalists are second prize Joslin Nel (R8 000) and joint third prize Daniella Patsalos and Marinda Holdstock (R6 000 each).

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