Architecture Awards

2021’s PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative brief incorporates Cape Town’s Strand Street Quarry as new tourist destination

PG Bison, a South African company that aims to inspire and enable beautiful living spaces, has been running the prestigious 1.618 Education Initiative for 29 years. This annual design competition aimed at third-year architecture and interior design students around the country, is part of the curricula of participating educational institutions.

Nathaniel Wakefield, director at Batley Partners, has joined four other respected judges who are tasked with selecting this year’s top ten and the top three submissions.

Lian Markham, Communications Manager at PG Bison, explains that the 1.618 Education Initiative aims to nurture and recognise young talent, to introduce students to real-world briefs and products, and to encourage creative thinking.

We are thrilled to have Nathaniel Wakefield on board, representing Batley Partners, a design-focused architecture, interior, and graphic design consultancy headquartered in Johannesburg” she says. “Nathaniel heads up the practice’s contribution to South Africa’s business empowerment lobbying and bursary funds for architecture students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and his enthusiasm for working with students is evident. It is wonderful to welcome him to the judging panel”.

Judging will take place this month (September 2021) and lecturers have already submitted their students’ entries through the online portal.

The brief

Every year, students are tasked with meeting a real-world brief, based on a specific site. The site is selected based on the city in which the previous year’s winner is located. The top three students in 2020 were from Cape Town. The brief requires students to create a design to develop the historical Strand Street Quarry as an attractive tourist destination and connection hub along the City’s planned Heritage Route.

The site needs to be considered from a physical and cultural contextual perspective and the design solutions must be grounded in reality” says Madre Marais, creative director and partner at Source Interior Brand Architects who created the brief.

I am excited to see how students engage with the site as a gateway into the CBD and how it can connect certain heritage landmarks in the city. Students must understand the location as a cultural hotspot that connects the Bo-Kaap and the Waterfront and responds to the site’s sensitive historical context.”

The prize

The winner and their lecturer will each receive a R50 000 cash price with R25 000 for the runner-up and R10 000 for third place. All remaining top ten finalists will receive a cash prize of R2 000 each.

Our finalists also have the chance to set themselves apart in the eyes of potential employers” says Markham. “For example, all of the top three students from the 2020 competition have been employed by ARRCC, an acclaimed multidisciplinary interior design and décor studio based in Cape Town”.

She adds that the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative is not only a means to support young South African talent, but also to connect students with industry to help them prepare for successful careers.

The 2021 judging panel comprises of:

  • Nathaniel Wakefield, director at Batley Partners.
  • Celebrated South African architect and founder of Mashabane Rose Associates, Phill Mashabane (also the longest-serving judge on the panel).
  • Creative executive at DHQ Interior Brand Architects, Livia Coetzee-Stein.
  • Creative director and partner at Source Interior Brand Architects, Mardre Meyer.
  • Founding member and director at Connect Architects, Henk Marais, who authored the 2021 competition brief, themed “Towards a World Connected”.