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A Year as a Solid Intern
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A Year as a Solid Intern

Derisha Govender shares her experiences of sustainability in the built environment: its ability to solve problems while contributing towards meaningful and beautiful architecture; and how the skills that she learned will inform her choices in the future.


Derisha Govender shares her experiences as a Solid Green intern:

At Solid Green, I learnt more about my responsibility as an architect to design in a more meaningful and structured manner. I developed my own creativity and tested it further with new constraints; I learnt how to apply new innovations to my design process and fill in the gaps I had in my knowledge about sustainable building design.

Experience

I gained a lot from my year working with the Solid Green team; I met new people, learned and discussed relevant ideas and industry concerns. Being allowed to sit in on meetings meant that I was able to get a better understanding of the relationship between architecture and sustainable consulting. The team is well qualified and I learned extensively from my colleagues and mentors, and from the company’s experiences. I was able to access a wealth of learning resources and be present at a number of truly fascinating talks and discussions. I was also given the space to present work I’d done to the team, be critiqued and debate my ideas.

Solid Green Team

Green Star

I started off by learning how to use the manuals to draft templates that would be used for documentation in the Green Star process. From there I decided to complete the New Buildings and Existing Buildings Green Star Tool AP (accredited professional) courses – which helped me to understand the key focuses in greening my designs for new and existing buildings.

Energy modelling

An integral part of my exposure to sustainability consulting was learning how to use various types of energy-modelling software. This helped me better understand the fundamental principles of passive design on a more technical level. It was crucial for me to be able to test my designs for myself at various stages, in order for me to arrive at the most efficient solution.

At Solid Green, I was given the opportunity to work with a few types of modelling software that tested several important spatial qualities, such as: thermal comfort; natural air flow through a space; lighting and glare; and the energy and carbon performance of my designs. This was a valuable skill to learn at this stage of my career as it will further assist my endeavors in sustainable architectural design.

ITAD (International Tropical Architectural Design Competition 2016)

In June 2016, I came across a sustainable design competition called the International Tropical Architectural Design Competition 2016. I saw it as the perfect opportunity to consolidate my knowledge and practice in all the skills I’d learnt with a detailed, functional design project.

The competition aims to address the issues faced by tropical regions of the world due to rapid climate change. Students were expected to consider a number of urban social deterioration problems that were prominent in the tropical city of their choice. Originality and practicality were key factors as design informants and the design had to be realistic and innovative. The project had to comply with the BCA (Building and Construction Authority) Green Mark criteria, which is the rating system used to assess and award buildings that exceed green benchmarks in Singapore.

Derisha worked on the Green Star SA Interiors rating for the first Streetlight School, which opened in Johannesburg in January 2016

The team critiqued my work at each stage of the design process. I was shown how to actually test the design using modelling software which led to my design changing form and materiality to better suit the climate of the chosen city for occupancy comfort.  I arrived at a final design that was significantly more thermally comfortable, allowed for better natural ventilation and cooling, and was more aesthetically pleasing.

To sum it up…

I thoroughly enjoyed working at Solid Green. Aside from enjoying my work, I enjoyed being a part of their lifestyle… a healthy working environment, relationships and friendships contributed so much to me personally. It was a truly productive year; I felt integrated and involved in the activities of the company and had fun learning everything I could!

I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to be a part of the Solid Green family.

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