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Top design built for sound and hearing

With a building design depicting the human cochlea, Armand Barnard, an interior design student from Brackenfell, was the winner of this year’s PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative.

He was announced the winner at an award ceremony held virtually last week (11 November).

A third-year student at Design Time School of Interior Design in Cape Town, Barnard clinched the title winning himself a cash prize of R50 000 for himself and R50 000 for his lecturer, Anel Joubert.

The runner up, Sarah Jane Sperryn, and the third-place holder, Dillon Titus, also hailed from the same tertiary institute, and secured cash prizes too.

This initiative has been running for 28 years and is aimed at third-year architecture and interior design students. It introduces students to real-world briefs and products.

“The 2020 brief saw students submitting their ideas to transform a site in Port-Elizabeth (Lower Baakens Valley, South End) into a community-based space for work and leisure,” explains Nadia Rossouw, a spokesperson for the initiative.

“Barnard’s winning design submission, The Cochlear, was based on the creation of a cochlea-shaped building with a focus on hearing and sound. Hard surfaces and hollow arched hallways help bounce around waves of sound throughout this space to create an auditory experience. The Cochlear includes wheelchair access and hearing testing stations, and proposes a partnership with celebrated audio equipment brand Bose, which Barnard believes would create a platform for hearing awareness and the joys of music,” says Rossouw.

It is envisioned that the Bose-branded space would display a headphone customisation bar, headphone testing stations and virtual reality stations.

“Firstly, I am so honoured to have been chosen as a finalist and winning first prize is nothing short of sensational,” says Barnard, who plans to use his prize money to help pay off his study loan.

He has previously worked as a practice administrator at a speech therapy practice and an audiology practice, as a practice manager for a wellness centre, and as an au pair for two special needs children.

For his social cause, he selected Hearing Health Foundation, a non-profit organisation that works to prevent and cure hearing loss.

“The hardest part of the brief for me was focusing on the concept and remembering to celebrate this thread. Another challenge was meeting the brief’s requirements whilst remembering to add some of my own quirk,” he says.

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