Young Female Mosotho Architect wins National Student Architecture Award in South Africa
Mpho Sephelane, a young Mosotho Architect is the winner of the 35th Corobrik Student Architecture Awards, walking away with a R70 000 cash prize. These awards are said to have been inducted in 1986 and are the only competition of its kind dedicated to Masters Architectural students in South Africa (Corobik (Pty) Ltd, 2022).
This year 8 major South African universities selected their best Masters Architectural student, who presented their thesis to a panel of judges who were professionals from the South African Architecture Industry.
Mpho was selected by the University of Cape Town, School of Architecture to present her thesis which was titled ‘Re[covering] Place: African ways of seeing, thinking and making as a call to rethink and remake places in cities’.
She brought a piece of her heritage by describing the use of the Basotho blanket as a transformative and imaginative symbol of identity and relevance. It is true that knowing where we come from and holding onto our culture and heritage is our unique compass.
Talk about breaking boundaries! When asked how she felt about winning the award, she stated “I am still ecstatic and honored to have received such a prestigious award. It has proven to be the validation that I and other students like myself needed to drive us forward in owning our narratives in architecture. I am also extremely thankful for the overwhelming support I received during my studies and now, it is truly humbling.” She further expressed that if given the chance to speak to her 21-year-old self this is what she would tell her “Just start; you will be unsure, you won’t always get it right and you will be misunderstood, but do it anyway. Lastly, I’d tell 21-year-old Mpho to never stop learning and to celebrate her wins, no matter how small.”
Mpho reiterates that the opportunity afforded to her has validated a lot of what her fellow students, especially people who connect with their culture, have been struggling with – the issue of translating who they are and what their culture entails and the values they bring to their everyday lives and professions.
“The journey is really a beginning for me as I am excited to continue to collaborate and learn from other cultures about such ideas of translation and preservation.” – Mpho
Congratulations to Mpho Sephelane. Thank you for being an inspiration to younger generations of Basotho Architects – rise