Six student teams from the School of Architecture recently submitted proposals as part of an international competition to design a soccer pitch, or field, for the town of Somkhele in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
The entries were coordinated by Zeuler Lima, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Architecture, who included the competition as an exercise in his fall studio dedicated to architecture in the Southern Hemisphere.
The competition, organized by the New York-based Architecture for Humanity, challenged designers to create a youth-sized playing field, sideline benches and a small changing room on a $5,000 budget while employing sustainable and/or local building materials. The pitch will serve as a gathering place for children ages 9-14 and as home to the area’s first-ever girls’ soccer league.
In addition, because Somkhele suffers from one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world, the pitch will serve as a dissemination point for information on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and will be managed by medical professionals from the nearby Africa Center for Health and Population Studies.
“Globalization is a contemporary phenomenon that affects all professional and intellectual activities, including architecture,” Lima said.
“As globalization contracts the distances between different areas of the globe, it also expands the cultural and human repertoires that define how the built environment is imagined, produced and experienced.”
In all, more than 270 teams from 37 countries entered the competition. Finalists — selected by an international jury of architects — will be announced this week. A winner will then be chosen by the Somkhele Girls Football team.
The WUSTL submissions, on view in Givens Hall through Dec. 20, emphasize multiple use, local sustainability and economic development.
Three proposals — by Sam Stribling and Anthony Tong; Carl Schwarz and James Wegener; and Jeffrey Laboskey and Matthew White — center on open modular structures that can easily expand to accommodate future development, such as a health clinic or local market.
Tracy Bremer and Naoko Tanikama add a system for collecting rainwater (about 85,000 liters annually, they estimate), while Lee Dunfield and Lindsey Neeman focus on creating a variety of spaces to host performances and public events as well as athletics.
Since much of the local population survives on subsistence farming, Jeffrey Gaines and James Lewis offer an ambitious plan for an adjacent network of community gardens.
“Soccer is a passion and provides mental escape,” noted Laboskey and White, whose elegant, highly flexible field design also incorporates swings and play areas constructed largely of recycled tires.
“In creating a fun environment, we can create a destination that draws the community and involves the people in its creation and growth. This is a place to play, live and grow.”
For more information about the competition, go online to architectureforhumanity.org.