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5 Minutes With Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Riaan Huiskens

Riaan Huiskens' architectural student proposal, which imagines the future of 3-D printing, won him the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award.

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Architecture | House and Leisure

The Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award always brings the next generation’s concerns to light the entrants providing an inspiring cross-section of the country's talent. 

This year's Architectural Student of the Year, Riaan Huiskens, explores new questions about how architecture is moving towards a paradigm shift with the development and incorporation of digital fabrication technology. He recently completed his studies at Nelson Mandela University (NMU), and while there, came up with a fascinating proposal entitled 'The Design of a 3-D Printing Facility in Central Port Elizabeth'. Its forward-looking innovation won him the grand prize of R70000.

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Architectural Student of the Year | House and Leisure
Riaan Huiskens has won the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award.

Huiskens’ design recycled an existing heritage structure, the Premier Mill Building, asking how its past as an industrial granary could be reimagined for the production of digital fabrications. We caught up with the up-and-coming architect to find out more about his winning project, and ask why he thinks competitions like the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award are so important. 

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5 Minutes With Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Riaan Huiskens

Architectural Student of the Year | House and Leisure

Why 3-D printing? 

Technology is becoming more and more present in daily life, and so if that is our future, and we want to keep architecture alive, then we need to move it into the digital age. It also provides new opportunities in the field of making which, for a student and professional, becomes even more important. 

Why did you choose the building you did? 

The building was selected during a mapping process with my lecturers. It’s a massive masonry building, an urban artefact and an icon in Port Elizabeth – it has over 100 silos, and was designed for a specific industry. So, unlike our modern factories that are designed as empty shells, general buildings, it was designed specifically for the processes it works for, which I found very interesting. Finding and choosing the building definitely wasn’t born out of a sentimental love for it, even though I do like it. It was born out of the needs of my project. 

What has been the best part of winning the award? 

I got lots of phone calls after winning the award, substantial prize money (Corobrik has been very generous), the heavy, big stanless steel brick trophy… it was just a really prestigious event to attend, and the highlight of the year for any young architectural student, even if you don’t win. 

Since leaving university and entering the professional world, how has your idea of the industry changed? 

My idea of the working world has always been pre-formed, because my dad was an architect, so I grew up with an idea of how it would be when you entered the working world. So the switch over wasn’t as harsh as it was for a lot of my classmates.

Why is the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award so important?

We need more of these awards. Architecture is a very cliquey thing. Not a lot of people know what it is exactly, so the general public has a very warped idea of what architecture is. So an award like Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year exposes what the general public sees. And also, it’s a bit of an internal competition among students, and it gives a real drive for us to achieve, and compete with one another. The prize money and the prestige make us all want to work harder to achieve the prize, and get our names out there. 

For more, visit the Corobrik website