Karen Botes, a University of Pretoria (UP) architecture lecturer, has scooped the prestigious the World Building Congress (WBC) 2022 abstract competition. The triennial World Building Congress is hosted by the International Council of Research and Innovation in Building and Construction. Its primary objective is to provide a platform for the international building community to discuss their latest research. This year’s event was focusing on how the current generation can make the world a better place to live in for posterity.
Botes’s submission was picked out of 900 abstracts submitted to the contest, which challenged applicants to write a 300-word abstract that relates to building for the future. Botes said she feels extremely blessed, honoured and grateful that her abstract was accepted and selected as winner of the competition. “I thoroughly enjoy my work, and highlights such as this motivate me to perform better and make a difference to our society and environment,” said Botes.
Traditional African vegetables
Her abstract is also in line with the literature review for her PhD study in landscape architecture. The abstract is titled: “An efficiency analysis of selected traditional African vegetable species and modular living wall systems for food security for Gauteng, South Africa’. Botes said she is “investigating the utilisation of a selection of traditional African vegetables in two prototypes of locally produced modular living wall systems for food production in South African urban environments.” She added that winning the prize means that she will have to work extremely hard to ensure she delivers an exceptional paper and presentation as a representative of her institution particularly the faculty of engineering, built environment and information technology (EBIT) and the department of architecture.
Early research academics
Botes expressed her gratitude to the UP’s department of research and innovation for supporting her research. She said the department is a major contributor and also supports with research for early-career academics through training workshops and writing retreats. She also acknowledged the role played by the Management at the Future Africa Institute, and grants from Innovation Africa and the University Capacity Development Programme made her research possible. “This enabled me to construct and analyse two living wall prototypes with traditional African vegetable species on the Future Africa campus,” said Botes.
Botes is an old hand at architecture boasting a 20 years of experience in the sector. She started her career in local government and quit to found her own company, a micro-enterprise specialising in landscape architecture and environmental impact assessment in Gauteng. “I completed many projects in South Africa, varying from master planning and ecological restoration on a macro scale to urban parks, piazzas, residential estates and gardens on a micro scale,” said Botes
She also received accolades for the numerous projects she led throughout her career. Some of these include:
- working on Menlyn Maine Mall in Pretoria, the first green precinct in South Africa this included the precinct’s Nedbank, Regus, BMW, Gems and Time Square buildings.
- Completing several other green-star projects as principal landscape architect, including the Little Falls Lifestyle Centre in Wilgeheuwel – which received awards of excellence from the Institute of Landscape Architecture Southern Africa and the South African Landscapers Institute (SALI) and
- FNB Ferndale in Randburg, which won a SALI award.
Botes also won this year’s EBIT Teaching & Learning Award, and has built a teaching and learning collaboration with Dr Adriana Botha, former head education consultant of the EBIT faculty. She said through the teaching and learning partnership she hopes to continue with research relating to online experiential learning in the department of architecture. In the long-term Botes said she hopes to improve the South African urban environments by addressing food security and malnutrition.