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SACAP celebrates Youth Day with the National Architectural Student Forum (NASF)

Friday, 16 June 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jacquie Cullis
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Architecture students share their dreams and ambitions on Youth Day

Johannesburg, 16 June 2017: Youth Day, previously known as Soweto Day, commemorates the sacrifices made by young people 40 years ago in the name of education. As education remains a burning issue in South Africa, listening to the voices of students is imperative – with this in mind, The South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) is focusing on Youth Month and will be participating in career expos to promote architecture as an exciting, viable and meaningful career choice for high school learners and in so doing, it will raise the awareness about the architectural profession.

Six architectural students from SACAP’s National Architectural Student Forum (NASF) shared their thoughts about their architectural studies on Youth Day, within the context of 21st century South African realities and the recent ‘Think Tank’ that SACAP held with its stakeholders around the decolonisation of architectural education and the #Feesmustfallcampaign.

Khensani de Klerk, Chairperson of the NASF and a student at the University of Cape Town (UCT), believes that architecture is shifting away from being a traditional elitist discipline, although she says transformation is an ongoing project. “As a postgraduate student, I would like to create a safe space in which black women can address the fact that they are in the minority in the discipline – decolonisation is one of the challenges students face today,” she says. “My role is rooted in amending apartheid spatial planning and exploring intangibles, like economics and politics, that come with negotiating that space – after all, as the architect Alfredo Brillembourg said, ‘If architecture is frozen music, then urbanism is frozen politics’.”

For Viwe Mpambani, who aspires to finishing her diploma at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), architecture holds the promise of assisting disadvantaged communities. “I would like to design sustainable, cost-effective houses, schools or even community centres from natural and recycled materials,” she says. “I would love to mentor new students as well as be a voice for them. Architecture is a demanding field and you must be prepared to sacrifice your time – but just one project can change people’s lives. Architecture is not just about designing beautiful buildings; it is a tool with which to improve communities.”

“In a profession that was previously dominated by men, I think it is particularly difficult for women to build up the trust and reputation required to become successful in the industry,” says Katie Klemp, who studies at the University of the Free State (UFS). “However, the youth of today are particularly tenacious and are on a fast track to turning misconceptions around. I have a strong passion for changing the way the architectural community sees women and I believe that achieving as a woman as my architectural learning sites (ALS) is a small but definite contribution to this goal.” Katie not only aspires to changing the way men perceive women in the profession – she is also keen to show the older generation that young students and graduates bring inspiring new technologies and a focus on sustainability to bear on the profession. “Architects are innovators,” she says with enthusiasm.

Thabiso Joyisa, a student studying at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) has expressed that he has had to overcome a number of challenges in his architectural studies. He says that “There is a very high drop-out rate amongst black students from disadvantaged communities, due to the fact that most PDI students growing up in South Africa come from such diverse cultures backgrounds and have not previously had exposure to architecture as a field of study – coupled with a lack of financial assistance which is required to study architecture”. He feels fortunate that he has been able to study architecture and describes himself as very passionate, hardworking person with big dreams to change the world. As a senior student, he has taken on a mentoring role helping those students that require his knowledge and skills that he has gained during his studies.

Ian Winfield, a student at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) and runner up in the Caesarstone Student Designer 2014 competition, advises aspirant students to work efficiently, not just hard. “Draw as much as possible with the hand – don’t think that fancy 3D software is better, he says. “Design begins on paper and with concept models. This helps when you need to produce work in later years.” Although Winfield believes that architecture is an “expensive and time-consuming” degree, he says it is an exciting discipline to be involved in. “One day, I’ll be able to say ‘I helped to design that building’,” he says.

Daniella Young, a student at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN) recommends architecture but says that “It is not for the faint-hearted and that one should not do it unless you have an absolute passion for it”.  She aspires to enhance the quality of life through meaningful architecture and hopes to open a practice and lecture one day.

As a dynamic, ever-changing discipline, architecture continues to inspire students and provide graduates with the skills to shape South Africa’s built environment. SACAP is at the forefront of encouraging learners to grasp the many opportunities on offer during Youth Month, with the aim of driving future leadership in this rewarding industry