NMMU Architecture student wins prestigious national award

JULY 8, 2016

NELSON Mandela Metropolitan University Architecture master’s student Judy Cizek was one of three joint winners in a prestigious national architecture competition, open to top candidates from architecture schools across the country.

Each equally-ranked winner received R50 000 from the Carl and Emily Fuchs Foundation. It was the ninth year the Foundation has awarded its prestigious Prize in Architecture.

Competing for the prize was not easy. In total, eight students were selected from different institutions, including the universities of Cape Town, Pretoria, the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Johannesburg as well as Wits and Tshwane University of Technology.

They were judged on a portfolio of undergraduate work, academic results over their entire Bachelor of Architectural Studies degree, a 24-hour design competition, and an interview. A panel of well-respected architects and academics made up the panel of judges.

The 24-hour design, titled "Weaving a new Joubert Park", challenged the finalists to re-imagine this historic city park in the next 100 years. 

“The part I was most stressed about was the 24-hour design, but the judges said mine was the best and this is what pulled me through,” said a delighted Cizek, 23, who was born and raised in Port Elizabeth, where she matriculated from Alexander Road High.

Cizek has no set plans as yet for after her studies, except that she wants to continue “creating” as an architect. “I’d like to stay in South Africa – possibly in Port Elizabeth.” She is very inspired by ongoing projects here and elsewhere where the inner-city precincts are being rejuvenated.

“We visited the Maboneng district [a bustling urban retail, business and residential hub] in Johannesburg. And I kept thinking: we could do this in PE.”

Cizek said her NMMU studies had stood her in good stead for the competition. “Our lecturers allow us to work independently, but also give us a lot of advice.”

“This is the first time an NMMU Architecture student has been placed in the top position in this competition,” said NMMU School of Architecture head of department Boban Varghese. 

“This reinforces the quality of the academic engagement and the contributions of the staff members at all levels at NMMU Architecture. We are extremely proud of Judy’s achievement.”

The other two winners were Gideon Malherbe from UCT and Leone Pieters from the University of Pretoria.

The competition is organised annually by Wits University’s Prof Paul Kotze.