The PG Bison 1.618 Competition Brief for 2018, from Carsten P. Walton Himself

The PG Bison 1.618 Competition brief for 2018 has been released and we cannot wait to see how the contestants interpret it and what they come up with!

Meet the author – of the brief!

Carsten P. Walton was born in Johannesburg, but has travelled extensively and lived as an expatriate in various countries. He received his Masters in Architecture degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design in the USA.

Living in Savannah, Georgia USA taught me that tearing down the old to always make space for new structures is not the solution, but that old and new can exist in harmony together.

After graduating, Carsten returned to South Africa to work on projects in the luxury residential sector. By 2008 he had founded the architectural practice 7circle Architecture which quickly went international. They completed green luxury projects in cities around the world which include the following destinations:

  • South Africa
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Laguna Beach, California
  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • Gold Coast of Australia

Carsten is currently in South Africa with his family and is working at INSCAPE Education Group as the Faculty Dean for the Built Environment – a position that feeds his passion for design, architecture, interior design, product design and education. The role requires of Carsten to act as overseer of these departments:

  • Architectural Technology
  • Interior Design
  • Interior Decorating
  • Environmental Design

Carsten has become involved with the African Institute of the Interior Design Professions (IID) and attends conferences and expos as often as possible to stay up to date with industry trends. He has already received multiple awards and accolades related to his specialisation in green and sustainable architecture – all by the age of 36!

The number of ‘Green Star Rated’ buildings being registered by the Green Building Council SA grows exponentially every year – this is great news, as more and more companies and individuals are realising the benefits of green design.

The excitement around the competition

Carsten has a passion for innovative design and is excited that the students have the competition as an avenue through which to express their creativity.

It has always been an interesting project that such a diverse group of students partakes in annually.

So we were thrilled when Carsten jumped at the opportunity to set up the brief for the 2018 competition when he was approached to do so at the end of last year!

The benefit and growth I have seen in the students from being exposed to such a quality competition has been remarkable. I really enjoyed the past few briefs, and as any inspired educator would do, I have often asked myself: “Well what type of project would I do if I wrote the brief?”

The Inspiration for the brief

Because Carsten has been involved in the competition process in the past, he already had some thoughts on what kind of brief he would want to set up if he was ever given the opportunity. Well he got his chance and he blew us all away! We’re positive that contestants will share the sentiment. His infectious enthusiasm for historic preservation and green architecture will surely inspire students’ designs.

This concept of historic preservation and adapting an existing space into something new got me very excited the moment I learned about the ‘Old Gas Works’ site for the PG Bison 1.618 brief.

There were some challenges that Carsten experienced during the brief’s set-up process; the scale of the competition project is immense and diversifying the brief so it is applicable to both architecture and interior design students, required careful attention and foresight. The ‘Coke Gas’ building was selected for its high traffic location and the fact that it would become recognised as a landmark. As a new attraction in the city the brief called for it to be used as a space for exhibitions, gallery shows and product launches.

It was decided that such an obvious landmark, that so many people pass by every day, would make an excellent example of what can be done with such beautiful historic relics all around South Africa.

Carsten worked closely with PG Bison Marketing Team to analyse previous briefs and their success while taking current industry trends into consideration.

The professional and efficient team I worked with at PG Bison Marketing Team made writing this brief a wonderful experience. Whenever I required more information, pictures, CAD drawings or simply to bounce an idea, their responsiveness and enthusiasm about the brief was fast and fantastic. It is a great pleasure working with pros.

When the ‘Old Gas Works’ was decided on as the building to be redeveloped, all that was left to do, essentially, was to ensure the project sticks to the primary design values:

  • Sustainability
  • Adaptive Reuse
  • Accessibility to the greater community

The students have free reign to expand their designs outward into the spaces on either side of the ‘Coke House,’ as well as up above the historic building. This means that there should be no creative limitations into what they can dream the site to become.

Some things to keep in mind about the 2018 PG Bison 1.618 Competition brief


Carsten says that because the ‘Coke House’ is the main building at the entrance to the ‘Old Gas Works,’ the site’s context is a vital consideration. This means students need to be in tune with how the site will interact with the main road and what the functions of the adjacent neighbourhood are. Students should keep sustainability and the implementation of green technology in mind throughout their designs. A versatile space that can be used as an exhibition space and become a unique attraction within the city, needs to be created.

When asked what he would consider the most important part of the brief, Carsten admitted this was a difficult question but ultimately provided a solid assertion.

I believe that the designers’ ability to think forward is the most important part of the brief. Sustainability is exactly as the word describes, to sustain. The only way we can learn to sustain for the future within the built environment is to learn from the architecture of the past, and design something that we can only imagine would still be relevant in the future.

Simply restoring a building won’t cut it – the space needs to be reimagined so that it might be sustained in the future. This is to inspire students to understand that everything evolves with the world, including our approach to design. The idea is to breathe new life into buildings in terms of their aesthetic and functional qualities. If students can achieve this while integrating green design principles they may be onto a winning design.

Education about green design is always a key factor, and I am happy that the PG Bison 1.618 Competition helps realise that.

We wish the contestants the best of luck, and thank you to Carsten P. Walton for his excellent brief. Happy designing, everyone!