In March 2015, all GPA Unit 2 students were asked to write blogs on the relevance of open building and how it could be explored and applied in their own design thinking. These written pieces, read against the design and intellectual work produced in the studio environment, formed the basis for Unit 2 coordinators to assess and offer to one student the opportunity to travel to Zurich, Switzerland to participate in THE FUTURE OF OPEN BUILDING conference in September 2015.



Weighing the quality and depth of the thinking evident in the blogs together with design ability demonstrated in class, three finalists were

selected. These were Simon Ngubeni, Sibusiso Lwandle and Diana Wolny.


Each student has displayed different kinds of strengths and weaknesses:

Simon has begun to articulate in his work an understanding of open building principles as potentially serving as an instrument for broader societal transformation, Sibusiso has shown an ability to lay exciting conceptual and theoretical foundations for an architectural project, while Diana has demonstrated excellent architectural design ability as well as for exhibited material as demonstrated at a recent cross-unit exhibition.


Some of the weaknesses evident in the class generally were found to be ‘designerly thinking’ (as opposed to analytical thinking only), the meanings and relevance of open building for local contexts and in general as well as developing one’s own voice therein, and a design sensitivity for ‘other’ conditions that is drawn from an understanding of those conditions.


Ultimately, for his intellectual and design ability and potential to further the discourse of open building in South Africa, Simon Ngubeni was nominated to travel to the conference in Zurich.


We congratulate Simon on his progress and achievement thus far, and similarly to Sibusiso and Diana. We also extend thanks and appreciation to Luke Venter, Darren Van Gool, Andrea Relling, Omphile Msindo, Ngwato Kektlou and Clara Senatore for their contributions to the Zurich blog.