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Thabiso Joyisa, Senior Architectural technician, who is currently doing his Bachelor of the Built Environment (BBE) degree in Architecture at the Durban University of Technology, is the proud second runner-up in the inaugural YIPA Sustainable Young Changemaker Award category.

This announcement was made at the prestigious Green Building Council South African Awards which took place recently.

The YIPA Sustainable Young Changemaker Award is a Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) and Youth in Property in the built environment sector (YIPA). He said that the invitation was made across all provinces in South Africa, and the other nominees were amazing talents from Wits University and Cape Town University doing incredible work under the theme of sustainability.

“I was fortunate enough to be nominated and asked to submit the social work I do, I submitted the work I started in 2015 called Level Six Project, a student-led process that is supervised by professionals all about creating socially sustainable communities and architecture which was an idea I envisioned using architecture as a tool to bring change,” he said.

Speaking on his accolade, Joyisa said it was a great honour to make it to the runners-up to second place, in the most prestigious conference from Green Building Council South Africa. 

“It was a proud moment to be recognised for the dedication and hard work that is required for bringing social changes, to previously disadvantaged communities, a moment where one reflects on the impact-driven work, a moment to be inspired to do more,” he said jubilantly.

He relayed that the other nominees were brilliant individuals doing amazing things, and to be now connected to them creates a world of possibilities through networking and sharing of ideas.

“Awards are a tap in the shoulder and motivate one to keep going, I thank God for giving me this incredible opportunity to be the change that I always wanted to be. All creative and innovative persons understand how hard it is to have an idea and what it requires to implement it, therefore, any recognition is a well-needed boost and assurance to be called in front of a great audience and speakers with my family is the highlight of 2021 for me,” he said proudly.

Joyisa said he is already a creative person who enjoys problem-solving and architecture chose him.

“To witness the process from initial thought to the final product is a rewarding process, I also realised that I needed a practical side to add to my creative side and architecture,” he said. 

Ms Phumzile Xulu, the Community Engagement Practitioner at the Community Engagement Office under the office of DVC: RIE, also gave her congratulatory message to the talented Joyisa, saying that working with him has been astounding and that he is doing amazing work for the community.

“His engagement and dedication to his work, a perfect example of how the people with the mind-set and desire to make a change or to contribute require support from those in position to help them take their ideas to a new height. Congratulations on making it to second place at the Cape Town Awards Conference, competing with other creative thinkers like him, very vibrant and bursting of ideas, the future of design is now.  It is the responsibility of the university to support entrepreneurs and creatives to do more and be more,” she said.

He relayed that DUT has helped shape him in his course of study.

“The first time I entered DUT I was looking for a direction and to understand my role and contribution to the world and the university helped shape and concentrate my energy into a specific. I am proud to say I am associated with the DUT, most of the work I do I started when I was doing my second year,” he said. He explained that the amount of support and encouragement he had received from Dr David Mohale Director for Special Projects at the office of the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Zwakele Ngubane, at the beginning stages of my ideas, and most importantly the team of students that he was fortunate enough to work with, had propelled him into entrepreneurship while he was a student. The most important thing was to be given the opportunity to innovate and get support,” he said.

As an architectural student, Joyisa explains how his accolade ties up with his studies.

“Architecture is the tool that I use to communicate ideas, the creative process that is embedded into critical thinking, the conference are professionals from the built environment that are leading in their respective fields. To get the opportunity to network with them was vital for me and my growth, expanding my scope and horizon to new possibilities,” he said.

For Joyisa, having role models like Elon Musk and Kanye West (Ye), as aforementioned are the new generation in an attempt to progress human civilisation to the next level of thinking, a new world where ideas matter.

“Not only are they examples of innovation but also a living proof that all things are possible if you can imagine a better world and get the chance to implement your ideas is fascinating to me, future by design,” she said. 

For him, this is also the first time he has made it into being a finalist in a competition.

He expressed that it is vital for students like himself to participate in such events and students should not limit themselves, they must get involved and he had done that in his studying career.

“I always wanted to be ahead and know who is doing the type of work I wanted to do, to get insight and industry tips of how things are done is a pivotal and priceless experience. Networking is the key that helps students to know the how-to and where to go, positioning and exposing or expanding yourself to the wealth of knowledge is greater than anything else,” he stressed.

In terms of his future goals, he has indicated that he wants to become a business magnate.

“Through architecture, I can design the spaces that I want, that the community wants, I have work I have been working on and got the chance to present it at Design Indaba around the informal settlement, and I have the ability now to pursue communities and design, a new reality for them and their children. For me this is the best ability one can have in their arsenal of skills,” he added.

His advice to current and future students who wish to follow in his footsteps is to not take advice.

“Young people are like a beehive of innovation, they must take it upon themselves to be bold enough to start, they must believe in their ideas first, as I always say ideas need you first, understand the complexities, expose yourself, expand your knowledge, the world we knew has changed and it vital now that they get involved and start proposing ideas that will create employment and create a better future for humanity,” he said.

He said that through the process, he has made many mistakes and learnt his lesson and this journey involved a lot of try and error.

Pictured: Thabiso Joyisa

Waheeda Peters

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