UJ student wins Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year competition

Date: Apr 24, 2015 | News

​​University of Johannesburg (UJ) Architecture student Harold Johnson made history as the first UJ student to win the Student of the Year Award at the prestigious annual Corobrik Awards 2015 on Thursday, 23 April.

“A win at Corobrik is an enormous confidence boost for us, and for our students. We’re the youngest school of architecture in South Africa, if not the continent as a whole, and our Master’s programme is only in its seventh year. This is a validation of the school’s position. It’s our job to provide the critical framework for as wide a range of interests and ideas as possible and to resist a design orthodoxy that forces (or gently encourages) students to conform,” said Prof Lesley Lokko: Associate Professor of Architecture and Postgraduate Programme Convener at UJ.

The Corobrik Awards are the country’s premier event to highlight the creative and technical talent of the cream of South Africa’s architectural students and to drive the advancement of design excellence nationally.

In January this year, Johnson won the Regional Corobrik Student of the Year Award, which earned him an automatic entry into the National competition.

“The journey forced me to unpack normative definitions and tropes, and to question the validity and usefulness of over-used notions such as ‘community’, ‘intervention’ and ‘informal’. Questionable terms which currently shroud both the reality of Johannesburg’s inner-city vertical settlements but conversely, our ability and willingness to engage with them,” shared Johnson on his outstanding project.

The young Johnson’s thesis, The ‘Dark’ City: Critical Interventions in Urban Despair, is a journey through the epidemic known as ‘bad buildings’ in inner city Johannesburg. Johnson began by observing and documenting the depressing cycle of violence, abandonment and exodus. He tracked statistics: delved into the relationship between those on the first rungs of urbanisation and those who’ve slipped below. He also investigated the city’s responsibility towards its own housing infrastructure and what happens when that falls away.

Prof Lokko went on to say that the student’s project was unusual in that it is both a design thesis and a design thesis critique. Johnson tried to do two things: satisfy the requirements of a normative thesis project and be critical of the process simultaneously, quite a difficult thing to do.

UJ congratulates Harold, his supervisors Alex Opper and Leon Krige and Team McGurk, who constructed the impressive stand at this year’s awards.

For more information on Harold’s thesis and/or on the Graduate Programme in Architecture at UJ, please contact the Graduate Programme Convener, Prof Lesley Lokko on llokko@uj.ac.za.


Harold Johnson

Latest News

| View All News

UJ’s Community Engagement Unit empowers communities with Financial Literacy skills

The University of Johannesburg’s (UJ)  Community Engagement (CE) Unit, within


National Research Foundation (NRF) awards two new SARChI chairs to…

The National Research Foundation (NRF) has awarded two additional research


UJ honoured at 2023 SAICA Chairman’s Difference Makers Awards

The University of Johannesburg is proud to announce the remarkable


Vice-Chancellor Message – 26 May 2023

Dear UJ Community, Last week on this platform, I explained


UJ’s rising star, Ramakgahlela Betty Sebati ready to shine at…

The Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings has announced