Student wins with thesis to regenerate Boet Erasmus Stadium

2016-02-11 06:00

One key issue is the need to incorporate the demands of sustainable development into architectural designs, keeping the lifetime carbon footprint of projects to a minimum.

At the 29th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), Leon van der Westhuizen was the regional winner of R8 000.

His thesis is ‘RE-generating the Boet Erasmus Stadium in Port Elizabeth through the design of a biological water treatment and research facility’.

This is according to Allin Dangers, Coro-brik director of sales, who says this is becoming increasingly important in the design of public sector buildings such as schools, hospitals and community centres where government has a long appreciation for the specification of sustainable or ‘green’ building materials such as clay bricks.

Dangers said they expect the students to bring a fresh perspective to the architectural scene, coupled with outstanding design and a thorough understanding of the complex issues impacting on the profession.

At the award ceremony, Phillip Skein was awarded second prize of R6 500, while Richard Holgate won third prize of R4 500 and Peta Almon was presented with a R4 500 prize for the best use of clay masonry.

The eight regional winners automatically qualify to compete for the R50 000 national prize, which will be presented at the 29th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards in Johannesburg in May 2016, and Leon van der Westhuizen will represent NMMU.

Van der Westhuizen says the project is concerned with issues pertaining to the impact of derelict sites on ecological systems, and the opportunities presented by these for the restoration and regeneration of damaged ecosystems - socio-economically, culturally and physically.

The derelict Boet Erasmus Stadium in Shark River Valley is a hindrance to an important valley water system, whilst providing a desolate termination to the upper end of a nature based leisure zone that connects to the beachfront through “Happy Valley”.

“By visualising the site as a filter for ecology, the project attempts to create an interlinked ecosystem between the neighbouring valley systems to allow citizens to utilise unique ecosystem services,” says Van der Westhuizen.

The old stadium becomes a micro-catchment area where wetlands, algae ponds and water lily treatment zones filter polluted and contaminated water to remove heavy metals. The ecological status of the valley is monitored by the research component and provides laboratories to extract and recover the heavy metals from the water lilies.

These metals are then crafted into saleable jewellery pieces. As the facility filters the water along the valley, it supports the reconstituted “people place” of Happy Valley with natural swimming pools, walkways, cycling routes and picnic areas.

In second place, Phillip Skein designed an aquaculture plant in the lower Swartkops Valley.

Skein says the project originated out of a response to the current environmental crisis facing the Swartkops River. Water pollution and degradation of eco-systems along the river has reached a new low and are threatening the health and integrity of fauna and flora species within the river.

The project sets out to address these issues through various sets of integrated interventions that are applied across scales to restore the value of the Swartkops River.

  • The competition begins with regional competitions at eight major universities throughout South Africa.

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