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Meet the judges - Letsabisa Shongwe, 2019

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Letsabisa Shongwe is President of South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) and a judge in the Architecture Category of the 2019 PPC Imaginarium Awards. We elicited her views on the competition.

PPC Imaginarium

What are looking forward to about your experience as a judge?

Architecture is form sculpting and I look forward to what the candidates have interpreted. But I am also looking forward to exploring other aspects of design expression beyond Architecture.

 

What themes do you think will emerge in this year's PPC Imaginarium Awards? 

Themes that I feel could emerge this year would be concrete use that eludes to movement. This movement can be seen in repetition of planes, radiating and fanning. I also think that with the success of the movie Black Panther, outer space and cosmos-like formations that have a strong African resonance will emerge. Afrocentric prints could also be seen.

 

How do you think young artists can gauge their success in the industry? 

I have always felt that any young artist should gauge their success against themselves and invest in little daily successes that will lead to the bigger factor being aimed for. Young artists can gauge their success by the number of friends and colleagues that ask them for help or to form collaborations. A giving or sharing disposition will always serve. Those who you help now, with sincerity, will become your connections later.

 

What are you looking for as a judge?

I am looking for displays of brevity. It is paramount to be brave and present the unusual, the intriguing, the unexpected, the provocative and yet, an investible product. I’ll be looking for sincerity in the designer.

 

Please tell us a little about your own career and how this experience is relevant to the PPC Imaginarium Awards and your role as a judge?

I have the honour of serving as the President of the South African Council for the Architectural Profession. The PPC Imaginarium Awards promotes the architectural design expression that my council regulates.

I am a professional Architect. In my study days, I was a regional runner-up in the Des Baker architecture competition, which evolved into the PPC Imaginarium Awards.

I was also a regional winner of the respected annual South African Corobrik student award during my Masters. Cement is a big component of that competition sponsor’s material landscape.

I am the Director of an architectural practice called Arch-live Architects. We are deeply immersed in exploring and discovering materials. As a judge I will be looking for a diverse exploration of cement as a material. Our practice has no specific expression as most of us have a strong Fine Arts background and we like that.

Exploring surfaces and sculpting should always remain at the core of creating a built product. Cement is a material for surface exploration and manipulation.

While I was part of the Soccer City architectural team tasked with the transport hub and stadium signage, I encountered thin, flat concrete cladding panels from Germany, and I believe that back then, my fascination with PPC cement was ignited.

 

What tip/s would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

Immerse yourself in your passion, do everything that develops it, assist and help your teammates, ask your boss questions and be helpful to her/him. I find having been extra-helpful has led me into the inner fold where people end up imparting very useful life information.

Those who you serve well today will become your connectors tomorrow or your business partners in later years. Have fun, be brave and outlandish, the rest of the world will just have to play catch-up to you. There is no space for mediocrity. Ask for help when you need it.

 

What does innovation mean to you?

Innovation means what will delight and enthuse the user. Innovation should make our lives better through function and spiritually. Innovation is taking the regular through an evolution that will give us chills and awaken us. An innovative product will tug on the wish to purchase it or apply it instantly because it will feel and present like a precious find, a freak of time. Innovation gives hope.

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