On the 26th of April 2023, the winners of an architectural competition for university students titled “Political Animals” were announced. Hosted by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture at Gallery Momo in Parktown North, Johannesburg, the competition involved an emphasis on students incorporating African traditional architecture to their design models. The selected six design artefacts are going to be part of the South African pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale in Italy this May. This is the first time that the South African pavilion will also have the architectural profession represented.
The curators include Stephen Steyn, Dr Emmanuel Nkambule, and Dr Sechaba Maape. They conducted the national architecture competition titled Political Animals. Lecturers and postgraduate students from architecture schools across South Africa were invited to submit proposals for crafted artefacts representing the structures of their universities. Selected groups worked with the curators to further workshop these miniature architectures.
The South African Pavilion, titled “The Structure of a People”, revolves around the architectural representation of social structures – in historical and contemporary terms. The exhibition unfolds through three zones. “The Past is the Laboratory of the Future” traces links to the architectural representation of social structures as documented in pre-colonial southern African societies. “The Council of (Non-Human) Beings” contains contemporary drawings on the topic of animism in architectural practice. “Political Animals” presents the organisational and curricular structures of South African architecture schools as architectural objects.
The first prize winners are Emma Skudder, Priyan Moodley and Michael Peneda of the University of Witwatersrand for their “Look the Other Way” model. Simphiwe Mlambo, Masego Musi and Sesethu Mbonisweni of the Graduate School of Architecture received second prize for their model “Resonance”. On third place was Tlhologello Sesana and Letlhogonolo Sesana from the Tshwane University of Technology for their model “MAAT 18.” The three finalist groups, whose models will also be exhibited at Biennale Architettura 2023, are: Dineo Mogane and Jason Du Plessis for their “Organized Chaos” model and they hail from Tshwane University of Technology); Phadi Mabe, Khalipha Radebe, Yamkelwa Simelane, Anya Strydom and Jan Truter for their model titled “Amplified Voices” representing the University of Free State; and Teegan Isola, Nosipho Ndawonde, Solami Nkabinde and Keyur Moodley for “Commemorating Cultures” from the University of Cape Town.
The 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia opens to the public on 20 May 2023, and closes on 26 November 2023. The South African Pavilion is located in the Sala d’Armi Nord, first floor, Arsenale di Venezia, Campo della Tana 2169/f Castello, Venezia, Venezia 30122, Italia.
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