Architecture students at UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies were recently given a platform to showcase their talents.

Over a four-week period, the group of first-year students collaborated with well-known Durban artists. The purpose of this partnership was to design an art studio as well as a residence for the Green Camp site on Umbilo Road.

An eclectic mix of artists influenced the creative process. Students were exposed to artists from an array of genres, ranging from choreographers, graffiti artists, fine artists and sculpture. This fusion represented the nature of art and exposed its relevance to architecture as an art form.

Artists who participated in this project are: Mr Greg Streak (a contemporary visual artists), Ms Karla Nixion (a fine artist), Mr Dane Stops (a graffiti and figurative artist), Mr Musa Hlatshwayo (a contemporary dance champion and award recipient at JOMBA). Mr Andries Botha (a political activist and sculptor) and Ms Jessica Bothma (a conceptual sculptor).

Learning outcomes from art and spatial design projects were consolidated in this final year end project.

To execute the project, students met and held introductory meetings with the artists in order to understand their design philosophies and to also get a sense of their creative processes.

Through this kind of engagement students gained an understanding of the site and developed concept designs for the artist. After many interactions and consultations, the artists and their studio facilitators presented their final piece of work with other artists present in order to receive constructive feedback.

Lecturer Ms Bridget Horner said, ‘The one on one interaction with the artists has proved an invaluable learning experience for our students – to help them mature in their understanding of how to not only interact with a client but also how to listen and how to respond through design with another person’s needs, dreams and desires in mind.  Watching the student’s presentations to the artist’s today has been incredibly fulfilling. The students have all grown over the last year in their ability to articulate their ideas through many means – drawings, models and the spoken word.’

Architecture student Mr Daniel Daruty said, ‘The experience of working with a “client” was a very enlightening exercise and has informed me that it is not an easy task getting to understand your client. As such, in future I’ll keep revising my approach to understanding a client.’

Collaborating with Nixon, student Miss Nicole Kistan expressed how she felt about receiving an opportunity to showcase her work saying ‘I feel that now more than ever I am certain that this is the career that I want to go into. More especially the satisfaction you get from the way the artist responds to your design. The feedback makes you feel that you are one step closer to having that reality one day.’

Horner thanked the artists who participated in the project saying, ‘Their time and insight is not taken for granted.’

Words: Ziphezinhle Silindile Biyela

Photographs: Bridget Horner