According to Jaco Steenkamp, Head Building Practice Lecturer at the Department of Interior Design and brainchild behind the initiative, a technical training course was added to the curriculum which exposes students to a range of vital building trades, such as bricklaying, plumbing and carpentry, improving their understanding of building materials, techniques and systems.
This additional technical training course will stand students in good stead once they enter the industry.
According to Head of Department, Inge Newport, part of being a professional designer is being able to talk to contractors and the building team on site, and this course helps to prepare students for that experience. “We are very excited to be collaborating with other service providers to enhance what we offer to students,” she says.
To this effect, the Department partnered the Tshwane TVET South College in Soshanguve, backed by a Memorandum of Understanding.
In June, 97 students, from first to third-year level, visited the college where they were divided into groups for a week to learn and practice these skills.
"It's probably the hardest they've ever worked, and it was sometimes accompanied by blood, sweat, and tears," Jaco adds, "but the teamwork was amazing."
They also learnt other related skills that will be useful in their careers, such as the terminology used in the trade.
"Interior Design has so many facets of which design is the cornerstone of the discipline," says Jaco. "But design also has a strong technical side, and, therefore, students need to understand interior architecture."
Following the practical training, students made presentations of what they’d learnt during the week, interestingly using technology from the TechLab, another addition to the Department earlier this year.
Asked for her views about the experience, Eufrazina Zau, a second-year student, says: “There was no lecture or book that could have prepared us for the cold mornings and the labour that shaped us into understanding the process of building something, understanding the importance of teamwork and leadership, order and neatness, physical strength, endurance, communication and, most importantly, willingness to learn. My experience at the Tshwane TVET South College was enduring yet amusing. They could not have done a better job in triggering our knowledge in Building Practice.”
Kgabo Moshia, also a second-year student, says: “Like Paul Halmos said: The best way to learn, is to do.”
The Department thanked Mr Ben Maringa, Ms Lucy Lekganyane, Mr Bafana Maphisa and all the studio masters from the Tshwane TVET South College for making this experience one to remember.