The 26th PG Bison 1.618 awards were held at the stylish MESH Club in Rosebank’s Keyes Art Mile in October and Stephan Petrus Diedericks from the University of the Free State was 2017’s overall winner. Congratulations again, Stephan! The brief required design and architecture students to submit a unique interior and architectural design that incorporates historical conservation.

The 2018 Milan Furniture Fair

Stephan won the coveted prize of a trip to the 2018 Milan Furniture Fair; from 17 to 22 April 2018 Stephan and his accompanying lecturer will take in the sights, sounds and inspiration that the fair – and beautiful Milan itself – have to offer. This trip is undeniably the opportunity of a lifetime for any architecture or design student, and Stephan and his lecturer get to experience it!

Having never been overseas, Stephan says the aeroplane flight alone is cause for great anticipation but seeing the Duomo di Milano will definitely be a major highlight. He also looks forward to the actual fair and seeing Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper in the Santa Maria delle Grazie, studying architect Rem Koolhaas’s Fondazione Prada, and being amazed by the Planetario di Milano – Italy’s largest planetarium. Stephen’s incredible excitement reflects his passion for historical conservation. He asserts that, “for something new to exist, there must be some sort of predecessor that points you in a new direction when embarking on a design.”

Stephan’s winning design

Stephan was inspired by Italian architect Carlos Scarpa who was known for creating a balance between new and old materials in his designs that he produced in the early 1900s. Stephan was also influenced by South African architecture and its lo-tech design approach.

Stephan elaborates:

Because of South Africa’s economic climate, expensive buildings are never really an option.  So, the way in which we simplify high-tech European building methods to better suit the South African economic situation creates a location-specific and appropriate design style.

The Delta Sewage plant built in the 1920s that was later decommissioned and replaced with an education centre, represents the Art Deco style and it was this structure that prompted Stephan to use the recycling theme of the sewage plant and to incorporate it into his design.

When Stephan thought of how supermarkets throw away food that is still perfectly edible, he came up with a concept where food is to be recycled by means of preparing and serving it in gourmet restaurants. This led to the idea to use abandoned shipping containers to carry the recycling theme through the entire design. Reusing materials epitomises Stephan’s winning design, coined The Delta Recycletorium (Recycle + torium). He hoped that his design would not only fulfil the brief but that it would also make people think differently about how they approach a design.

What being the winner means to Stephan Diedericks

Simply entering the competition was enriching for all the candidates that took part and Stephan learned that “projects can be approached in a different manner than the conventional building systems that are regularly used.”

When asked what impact the PG Bison 1.618 competition had on his life, Stephan said it made him more confident in his abilities as an architect. “I hope that it will allow me to discover my own architectural style and that it will inspire me to design appropriately in a South African context.”

Since the competition, Stephan has received multiple architectural job offers, any of which promise to build his knowledge and propel his career. Stephan is eternally grateful for the opportunity PG Bison has given him to travel overseas – it would not have been possible without the generous funding. The journey so far has awarded him a renewed confidence in his potential as an architect and it has given him a positive outlook on the opportunities that are inevitably still to come.

Stephan would like to thank his parents, his two 3rd Year UFS design lecturers, Kobus du Preez and Zack Wessels, and all his fellow architecture classmates that helped him become even better at what he does.

When asked what this competition has taught him in regards to his professional future Stephan answered wisely. “Nothing worth doing is easy.”

We wish Stephan safe travels and there is no doubt we will be seeing more great things from him and his fellow competitors. From PG Bison and the team, thank you for your architectural contributions as well as those to come!