WINDHOEK – The Council of Architects and Quantity Surveyors as well as the Namibia Institute of Architects have wholeheartedly welcomed the recent graduation of the first two Master of Architecture degree holders at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust). The two Namibians, Francis Shilongo and Gabriel Williams, completed the Masters Programme of the Department of Architecture and Spatial Planning (DASP) at Nust.
According to the president of the Namibia Council for Architects and Quantity Surveyors (NCAQS), Lesley Hindjou, the Nust programme addresses a severe shortage of adequately trained architects in the country. “This initiative by Nust is highly commendable because it addresses a severe shortage of architects. As outlined in Vision 2030 the country needs many more qualified architects,” said Hindjou. He added that the Council only considers Masters degree holders for admission into the profession.
According to Prof Sampson Umenne, Director and Founding Head of Nust’s Department of Architecture and Spatial Planning, Shilongo and Williams were the pioneer cohort of students admitted into the programme.
The two-year professional Master of Architecture (MArch) degree was mounted in the DASP in 2017. Although the MArch Curriculum was approved by the Nust Senate in 2015, its implementation was subject to the endorsement of the NCAQS. This endorsement by the NCAQS was finally obtained in 2016, hence the first intake into the programme in February 2017.
In the setting up of the Architecture Programme at the then Polytechnic of Namibia, which became the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) in 2010, the government mandated the institution to provide the country with the much-needed professionals for its development Vision 2030.
“Accordingly, the DASP-conceived strategy for postgraduate studies during the Nust PSP-4 was intended to develop new programmes for the training of relevant professional graduates, who are professionally registrable and excel in the context of changing local, regional and international realities of human settlement development and built environment fields. Thus the establishment of the first school of architecture in Namibia was to ultimately produce home-grown professionals with the requisite qualifications to assume leadership of the process of shaping the future architecture of Namibian rural and urban agglomerations. That ultimate goal has been achieved not only in the production of several cohorts of B Arch Hons graduates over the years but also in the successful mounting of the MArch Programme and the subsequent production of its first home-grown professional graduate architects in 2019,” said Umenne.
He added that aarchitecture is acknowledged worldwide as a noble profession within the context of the built environment fields of study.
“Architecture is the art and science of the creation of the buildings and infrastructures which define functional and comfortable space, structurally stable and aesthetically pleasing environments for rural and urban centres. Architecture is, therefore, the field for students who intend to pursue careers in the art of designing and shaping of the Namibian rural and urban built environment as qualified professionals,” Umenne explained.
The Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Architecture Honours’ programmes of the DASP are accredited programmes by the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP), the Commonwealth Architects Association (CAA) and the Namibia Council for Architects and Quantity Surveyors. The implication of this is that graduates from these programmes hold qualifications which are recognised locally, regionally and internationally.
In the strategic plan period (2019 to 2023), the DASP aims to grow into a progressive, regionally contextual School of Architecture, Sustainable Urbanism and Regional Development (SASURD). Its mission is to produce, for the Namibian spatial planning and construction industry, professionals who excel in the context of changing local, regional and international realities.
Said Umenne: “To these ends, our values are anchored on pragmatism and innovation in Architecture and Construction Technology, Town and Regional Planning, Sustainable African Urbanism and Rural Development. We strive to produce graduates who understand the vast and rich natural Namibian context with its diverse cultural, social, historic and ethnographic landscapes.
Accordingly, graduates of the DASP possess the critical thinking and place-making skill to plan and design responsive, all-inclusive, sustainable urban and rural environments in the context of the unique Namibian dynamics, and complexities of diverse communities and rapid urbanisation.”
DASP’s central location, unique status as the only such school in the country, and academic staff with variegated professional experience and expertise provide the basis for engaged, collaborative applied research in key developmental areas such as land delivery, sustainable housing delivery in the spirit of Harambee Prosperity Plan and related policy development, providing fertile grounds for student hands-on involvement and exposure.