Ms Mdaka is naturally gifted, imaginative and has an incredibly creative mind and it seems her choice of career in architecture was written in stars. A young budding female architect Ms Mdaka designs strong and sustainable houses that promote and subscribe to the notion of greener living spaces. Perhaps more importantly, through her genius, she is able to lend a hand to achieve a bigger goal of helping the government address or alleviate the increasing homelessness in the country.
Going it alone
After working as an intern and successfully completing her studies, she wanted to be on her own and founded her own architectural company named Zür Architecture PTY(LTD), which she registered in 2018. “I created this company because I wanted to be in control of the designing and planning of projects. I have quite an imaginative and creative mind and it has always been limited when I was an employee,” says Ms Mdaka.
She says now that she owns her own company, she has the freedom and power to run and facilitate the whole architectural services that her company’s offerings. In addition, her company enables her to create spaces where more women can infiltrate the architectural world. “There is also not a lot of women in the industry especially in leadership roles,” she says.
Ms Mdaka was born in Limpopo but grew up in a small township called Ekangala, east of Pretoria. She received her education in Cullinan where she started college in Grade 10. She then went to Tshwane North College where she did level 2 to 4 majoring in civil and construction engineering. She completed her certificate at Inscape Design College for my architectural draughting. She then worked as a junior architectural technologist for five years while doing her articles. Upon completing her articles she became a professional draughtsperson.
From a drawing into a shelter
Ms Mdaka says she has always wanted to follow a career within the STEMi stream. But she says, initially she wanted to pursue civil and construction engineering. It was while studying that she developed interest in the design aspects of civil engineering and this sparked her love for architecture. She says the main inspiration for her is her love for designing and technical drawings from high school. “I was fascinated by how something can be translated from a paper or drawing to become a shelter. The idea that one can build a house and give people their perfect home from just technical drawings,” says Ms Mdaka. She says even though architecture is such a broad field its core is in designing and planning residential and commercial constructions, town planning, interior design, landscaping, decorating etc.
The highlights of Ms Mdaka’s career include passing her board examinations and being a certified draughtsperson. She has also been involved in designing a few iconic commercial buildings but the latest achievement was working on a project where they designed a town (not yet allowed to disclose full details because the project is still on-going). She says science and technology form the backbone of society and that South Africa and other countries in Africa can leverage this to address some of the key challenges they face such as homelessness. “We are a continent full of resources, so using my skills in design and building I can teach leaders in communities how to build strong and sustainable structures using their resources. So more people get homes at a low to no cost and help ease the burden of homelessness in our communities,” says Ms Mdaka.
Women participation in STEMi
She says not enough is being done to increase the participation of women in the sciences and that this can be addressed by promoting career guidance at schools. She says most learners lack exposure to career guidance in schools across the country.“ Most people only know of engineering, medicine and lawyers, but don’t know that there are many other opportunities. We need more career awareness programmes that will reach leaners across the whole country. These programmes need to be designed in a way that is interactive and practical, so learners are eager to know more”, says Ms Mdaka.
Ms Mdaka is also worried about the poor number of women in leadership positions in most science and technology institutions. She says efforts must be made to stop oppressing women in workspaces. Women should be given opportunities, equal pay and leadership roles, she says. “As a black female architect, I am not taken seriously or professionally in a lot of spaces I go to. Often, clients hesitate to take me as their service provider or do not want to pay the rate I am charging because of these. Before starting my company, I struggled to get employment opportunities while my male college mates easily got opportunities,” she says.