As part of the South African Pavilion at Biennale Architettura 2023, the South African Pavilion curators, Mr Stephen Steyn, Dr Emmanuel Nkambule and Dr Sechaba Maape, conducted a national architecture competition titled “Political Animals”. Lecturers and senior or postgraduate students from architecture schools across the country were invited to submit proposals for crafted artefacts representing the structures of their schools or universities. Selected groups worked with the curators to further workshop these models or miniature architectures.
Six groups were shortlisted, and ModelArt has produced their artefacts, which will be exhibited within Zone III, Political Animals, as part of the South African Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.
An adjudication panel comprising Karlien Thomashoff (director of Thomashoff+partner Architects, Y+K Architects and WitOpWit), Ngillan Faal (Unit 7 Lead and programme convenor for Making – Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg. Director of Faal & Kompin) and Nomonde Gwebu (lecturer and a PhD candidate at the University of the Witwatersrand) was responsible for picking the top three groups. These groups will receive prize money as follows: R6 000 for the third prize, R12 000 for the second prize, and R20 000 for the first prize.
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”. And Tlhologello Sesana and Letlhogonolo Sesana from the Tshwane University of Technology received third prize 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 (“Organized Chaos” – Tshwane University of Technology); Phadi Mabe, Khalipha Radebe, Yamkelwa Simelane, Anya Strydom and Jan Truter (“Amplified Voices” – University of Free State); and Teegan Isola, Nosipho Ndawonde, Solami Nkabinde and Keyur Moodley (“Commemorating Cultures” – University of Cape Town).
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. And Political Animals presents the organisational and curricular structures of South African architecture schools as architectural objects: “Look the Other Way”, “Resonance”, “MAAT 18”, “Organized Chaos”, “Amplified Voices” and “Commemorating Cultures”.
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.