Meet 2020’s 1.618 Judges: Phill Mashabane

The winner of 2020’s PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative will be announced on 11 November at our first-ever digital awards gala event. Like our Top Ten finalists, we wait with baited breath to find out which design students will receive this year’s prestigious prizes. Despite the challenges 2020 has posed to students countrywide, the entrants into this year’s 1.618 Education Initiative still tackled the competition brief with distinction and dedication, giving the judges much to think about.

One such judge is Phill Mashabane, the longest-serving member of our judging panel, who has been involved with the 1.618 Education Initiative for over 10 years. Phill is co-founder and principal architect at Mashabane Rose Associates, a pre-eminent South African architectural and design studio with a particular focus and impressive track record in heritage architecture. Founded in 1995 by Phill and his partner Jeremy Rose, who sadly passed away in 2015, Mashabane Rose Associates’ projects dossier includes the Apartheid Museum, Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum, Robben Island Millennium Museum, Mandela House Museum, and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, to name a few.

Phill is also a commercial and construction arbitrator, accredited mediator and trained attorney; runs his own production studio; and has served as an external examiner for a number of universities’ schools of architecture. His latter experience, in addition to his wealth of architecture and design expertise in general, makes him a particular asset to the 1.618 Education Initiative, as he understands bridging the gap between architecture and design in education and in practice better than anyone.

“There is, naturally, in many instances a drastic difference between the theory that is taught and the practical application of architecture and design,” he says. “That is why the 1.618 Education Initiative is excellent. For many years it has been consistent in tackling the development of students, making them better, more well-rounded architects and designers as they leave university.”

Phill is passionate about functional architecture that best serves the people for whom it is intended. “Architecture is not merely about designing pretty buildings,” he says. “It is about establishing the purpose of the intervention, basing your design on the needs of the communities that are seeking such a purpose.” Indeed, this year’s 1.618 competition brief emphasised the need for entrants to consider the community of small businesses for whom they were designing. “Good architecture is about designing for people,” Phill emphasises, “ensuring that your design is fit to purpose and to the benefit of the community.”