Architecture students Mr Vahin Parmananda and Mr Mthoko Sibisi, who won the UKZN leg of the Saint Grobain Multicomfort house student contest, will now compete against representatives of other universities in Africa in Johannesburg on 20 April.

Developed by ISOVER in close collaboration with the Dubai Municipality and Dubai Properties Group, the contest requires entrants to create a vision for a transcultural vibrant community development in the Cultural Village of Dubai.

The students had to create sustainable architecture integrated into the urban space while responding to Saint-Grobain MultiComfort criteria, taking into account the climatic conditions and regional context of the Al Jadaf site in Dubai.

Mr Sibusiso Mthembu of the South African Saint Grobain organisation said the design needed to be sustainable, innovative and able to drive the city further.

Mthembu was impressed with the calibre of the work produced by UKZN students.  ‘The designs by the students are some of the best I’ve seen so far. The execution of the conceptual design and the sensitivity and incorporation of the environmental elements are really good.’

Said Architecture lecturer Ms Magda Cloete: ‘This is the first time we have entered the contest. We have seen the value in allowing the whole class to participate as part of their academic programme.

‘The issues raised in the project around environmental conditions as well as the cultural context that architecture responds to, have enabled students to broaden their understanding from a local to a global view. Many of the lessons will be useful for work in the remainder of the architecture and urbanism programme,’ said Cloete.

Words and photograph: Melissa Mungroo