Architecture students from the University of the Free State got to represent South Africa and dazzle hundreds of thousands at one of the most prestigious showcases in the world—the Venice Biennale!
Free State, South Africa (22 January 2024) — The Venice Biennale (La Biennale di Venezia) is a highlight on the calendars of architecture lovers, architects, creatives and design enthusiasts. They come from all over the world to enjoy the grand spectacle dubbed ‘one of the most prestigious cultural festivals in the world’ that runs annually from May to November. And last year, students from the University of the Free State got to bask in being a part of it all.
Third-year students from UFS’s Department of Architecture got the chance to exhibit their work at the international showcasing—a shining accomplishment for any architect, let alone students.
Around 285,000 visitors attended the La Biennale di Venezia last year where, for the first time in its 18-year-long history, Africa was the focus of the festival. Six design artefacts were selected by South Africa’s Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, with UFS’s students proudly earning their place among the chosen six.
According to Phadi Mabe, a UFS Department of Architecture lecturer:
“To be featured in this exhibition means that we are recognised by the international community as one of the leading architectural learning sites in South Africa and the work being produced at the institution deserves international acclaim.”
But it also means a big shift in how architecture values what young African minds have to bring to the table—something we can all root for.
The students who have made South Africa so proud are Anya Strydom, Yamkelwa Simelane, Jan Truter and Khalipha Radebe, who used 3D printing in the most innovative way.
“The sound structures of South Africa’s languages are mapped three-dimensionally to create a visual and spatial record of language. This unique artefact demonstrates that there are uncharted terrains in architecture, suggesting alternative dimensions that can be extrapolated to show that architecture can represent the intangible,” Mabe explains.
Meanwhile, in other applause-worthy news of South African creativity earning spots in international settings, a South African film by Mark Engels was recently selected for the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles!