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Department of Architecture

Architecture graduate wins international award

By Nico Botes

Posted on 14 June 2011

The Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria, is proud to announce that Ruann van der Westhuizen, MArch(Prof) graduate of the 2009 studio, was announced one of eight winners of the prestigious Hunter Douglas Award at the Archiprix International that rewards the work of the world's best graduates in architecture, urban design and landscape architecture.

The Archiprix Foundation, a network of young, prominent architects, organizes the competition biannually. For the 2011 challenge 1400 universities worldwide were invited to submit their best final year projects. Over 300 projects from 70 countries were received, from which 24 finalists were announced in October 2010. Ruann’s project was also nominated as a participant’s favourite. Leading up to the awards ceremony, held on 9 June 2011 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the finalists participated in workshops and an exhibition hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ruann’s dissertation, completed under study leader Jacques Laubscher and mentor Marianne de Klerk, achieved top honours in the Department in 2009. It proposes a public bathhouse in the Marabastad precinct in Tshwane and investigates the ritual of cleansing in an urban environment, thereby celebrating a fundamental human act. Informed by the context and the potential of social integration, the built form is layered to provide graded levels of privacy. The full document of his study is available at

According to the jury: "The winning projects are related to the DNA of recognizable architects or architectural styles, but they are another evolutionary step beyond that DNA, and stand out because of the authentic voice of the individual designers and the clear positions they take. They are all very powerful projects and go beyond style. What they have in common is poetics.”

Laubscher, who also coordinated the final year studio, said that he believes this award once again positions our graduates amongst the best in the world. He added that the achievement represented the collective dedication of the staff and student body to excellence in the built environment.

Ruann has just returned from the United States and has been invited to share his experiences with the Department at an open lecture during the second semester.

This is the fourth major accolade awarded to students of the Department of Architecture in the last 12 months. A year ago Jacques Orton’s electronic dissertation received an international award from the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations, in September 2010 Carla Taljaard, Stephen Steyn and Warwick Manley won the national Murray & Roberts Des Baker competition and in February Jankel Nieuwoudt won the DesignHub Respond-Renew-Revitalise Competition sponsored by Saint Gobain, in which the Department was also named best university participant.

Information on the Archiprix International 2011 is available at:

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