We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the winner of the 3rd prize of our “Rome Collective Living Challenge ” competition - Philip Kolevsohn from South Africa!

Philip Kolevsohn from South Africa

Currently studying a Master’s of Science degree in Architecture at Politecnico di Milano in Milan, Italy, Philip is set to graduate at the end of July 2019. With his Bachelor's degree from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, followed by a year of work experience in an architecture and urban design firm in Cape Town, he possesses a wide range of design skills in both large and small scale projects as well as a thorough theoretical knowledge of architecture and design.

Having worked on a number of public schools and transport hubs in South Africa during his year of experience in Cape Town, Philip is in the final stage of his Master's Thesis which continues to address the struggles facing people in dense urban contexts. His thesis aims to address the issues surrounding the housing industry in major European cities, for which he is investigating adaptive architecture as a potential solution rather than the construction of new buildings in existing developed urban contexts.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

Architecture can be defined by the organic composition of the slums in my home city of Cape Town. Architecture can be defined by the shadow-casting skyscrapers of Manhattan. For me, architecture is defined by people in space making place. Architecture is about people. It is about expression. It is about handcraft, which the architectural world is fast forgetting. It is about the smell of concrete on a building site and the feeling of the earth between your fingers. It is hard to explain how my definition of architecture has changed over my very short career, but one thing I know for sure is that my goal for my future in this industry is to develop my understanding of how we as architects can create a better harmony between people and our environment. The role of architects should be to consider people’s needs, while treading lightly in achieving them, in order to protect future generations while ensuring a safe and sustainable future for our planet.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

I find that architecture vision competitions give participants more freedom to tackle social and architectural issues, while at the same time providing a platform for discussion around sensitive topics which architects and designers would otherwise not have the ability to discuss or argue. In a vision competition it's not about providing enough content to achieve an 'A+' on your report card, neither is it about meeting client demands, strict budgets and bureaucratic restrictions. It allows architects and designers the opportunity to research, experiment, create and discover, in an attempt to solve real problems in an 'out of the box' yet educated and inspired manner.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture vision competitions?

One phrase I try to live by is that you should rather regret the things that you tried but failed, than regret the opportunities you had but didn't take. The more opportunities to take, the greater the chances of growing, and I feel that participating in an architecture vision competition only presents opportunities for growth. Do it. Take the plunge. We are always so quick to doubt our abilities, but these platforms provide an incredible opportunity to see how we fair amongst some of the best in the industry. You really have absolutely nothing to lose.

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