Neeshailin Naicker from the University of KwaZulu-Natal has been selected as a regional winner in the 34th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards for his thesis which looks at how architecture can contribute to existing learning environments by integrating community influence within rural primary schools.
Neeshailin Naicker, regional winner, 34th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards
In exploring how to promote quality education in rural communities by using alternative methods of teaching and learning based on community influence, Neeshailin’s winning thesis proposed a building design that defines the principles for a spatial rethink of a primary school in rural KwaZulu-Natal. The aim is to extend the conventional learning experience beyond the confines of constructed classroom spaces to the broader context of learning in place, and simultaneously providing an opportunity for community empowerment.
The Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards selects regional winners from eight major universities, based on the students’ final theses. These regional winners then go through to the national round, where the top title is awarded, in addition to a R70,000 grand prize.
“I am extremely honoured and grateful to be competing in the finals of such a prestigious competition. I never imagined myself being in this sort of position, so I am really looking forward to this experience, which will only aid in the growth of my architecture career,” comments Neeshailin. “To be honest, it is still sinking in that I was the winner. There was stiff competition from the rest of my classmates.”
Neeshailin adds: “I think it is vitally important for companies like Corobrik to host awards like this, as it provides an important platform for students to showcase their potential and gives them exposure and opportunities they would not likely be able to access otherwise.”
Communities, education and the built environment
From an architectural perspective, Neeshailin has been motivated by exploring the vital relationship between communities, education and the built environment to contribute to resolving existing problems found in rural architecture. The design provides for a much more considered architectural approach that responds not only to the pedagogical needs of the students, but also to the socioeconomic needs of the rural community, which is a major asset to its holistic sustainability.
“I am passionate about education and its power to change a person’s life. Thus, architecturally I would like to provide my local community with contextually-responsive education facilities that will enable them to empower themselves and achieve their full potential,” highlights Neeshailin. “My dream is to one day have an architectural firm of my own that is heavily involved in community-based upliftment projects.”
The National Corobrik Student of the Year Awards ceremony that will take place virtually in May.