Change the world


Using technology, and specifically Building Information Modelling (BIM), to promote criticality through collaborative efforts during all stages of the building design process at higher education level, was the focus of Architecture Head of Department and senior lecturer Dr Jean-Pierre Basson’s doctoral research in Construction Management.


Jean-Pierre obtained his doctorate at the recent autumn Graduation of Nelson Mandela University. In addition, he holds two master’s degrees, namely one in Architecture and one in Construction Management.

“While my research content remains rooted in architecture, the broader application of BIM extends across various disciplines within the built environment, and therefore I believed Construction Management to be more fitting for my chosen topic and area of research”, he said.

During Jean-Pierre’s master's studies in construction management, he investigated using BIM as a tool to facilitate effective design communication between students and lecturers, and to enhance student success. And the positive research outcomes confirmed the potential of BIM.

Consequently, his doctoral research delved deeper into this topic, and he collaborated with undergraduate students majoring in architecture, construction management, and quantity surveying.  

Jean-Pierre’s believes there is a lack of co-creation of knowledge in an interdisciplinary collaborative environment where students use critical reasoning, action, and self-reflection, which are seen as essential skills required to become 21st-century global citizens.

Therefore, students from the built environment are being prepared contrary to the highly collaborative nature of the industry they are entering upon graduating. The interdisciplinary approach aligns with the broader scope of BIM within the built environment.

“Teaching runs in my family, and I believe it's more than just a job—it's a passion. If I had the chance to travel back in time and advise my 18-year-old self, I would still choose architecture as my career path.

“My dream job isn't about a specific title or position—it's about finding the potential in every student and nurturing it to fruition. That, to me, is the essence of living my dream. I consider myself incredibly fortunate because I'm already living my dream job!”

In every job, there are both lowlights and highlights, but what matters most is that the highlights outweigh the lowlights. Working with a group of talented young individuals and helping them shape their futures is truly invaluable. Witnessing the growth of first-year students throughout the academic year, from initially lacking skills to showcasing remarkable progress by the November Portfolio Review, is incredibly rewarding, he says.

Understanding the broader vision for one's life and career is crucial, especially in navigating the complexities of today's educational landscape. From his perspective, the ability to set both short-term plans and long-term goals is paramount.

“I am driven by a steadfast commitment to hard work and professional growth. Now, standing at the juncture of 11 years of experience, I envision dedicating the next three to five years to further honing my leadership skills in this capacity.

“However, if I dare to dream bigger, my aspirations extend beyond the confines of my current role. I harbour a profound desire to contribute to the broader educational discourse at Nelson Mandela University, particularly in the realm of Industry 4.0, Jean-Pierre says.

His vision encompasses leading initiatives within the Learning and Teaching division of the University to harness the transformative power of technology in education. In today's classrooms, where Generation Z learners are the focal point, he is committed to shaping student success through collaborative learning approaches.

Jean-Pierre’s journey began at the University overseeing the computer lab, where he found himself teaching architectural drawing and presentation modules. There he became captivated by the possibilities of technology in education, which led him to develop innovative methods to teach computer software and receiving Innovation and Excellence in Teaching awards.

As technology continues to evolve rapidly, considerations such as artificial intelligence (AI) prompt reflections on how students, deeply entrenched in a tech-savvy environment, engage critically with information.

Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don't wait for the perfect moment or circumstances to pursue your dreams. Seize the opportunities that come your way, embrace challenges, and make waves. Every step you take, every risk you embrace, brings you closer to realising your full potential, he says.

“Every person's journey is unique. My academic path began in 2013 as an associate lecturer, where I taught six modules spanning from first-year undergraduate to postgraduate levels, along with two additional modules on a secondary contract. In 2016, I was promoted to lecturer, and from 2016 to 2018, I expanded my teaching responsibilities to nine modules while pursuing my second master's degree”.

Apart from a teaching load, he engaged and took administrative roles, such as undergraduate and postgraduate admission and learning and teaching committee member. He also faced personal loss—the passing of his grandfather, who introduced him to architecture, on the day of my final submission, however he persisted earning promotions and recognition for his dedication to education.

“In this phase of my journey, I embarked on this PhD while balancing the responsibilities of parenthood and coping with the loss of my mother, my biggest supporter and inspiration. Throughout this journey, I have learned the importance of collaboration and support. I am grateful for the colleagues, mentors, and friends who have stood by me, providing encouragement and guidance. Their belief in me has fuelled my determination to grow and succeed”, he says.

Jean-Pierre also thanked Construction Management Professor John Smallwood for his mentorship and guidance throughout his PhD journey. “His inspiration and insights have transformed my perspective on research, instilling in me a deeper appreciation for its significance beyond academia.”

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Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160