Architecture competition "London Affordable Housing Challenge" honorable mention - Amrita Raja and Katharine Storr

We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the winners of one of our Honorable mentions for the “London Affordable Housing Challenge” competition - Amrita Raja and Katharine Storr from United Kingdom!

Amrita Raja and Katharine Storr from United Kingdom

We started collaborating while at Yale School of Architecture  where we studied for our Master’s in Architecture. We only worked on a few academic projects together but spent our free time doing various projects, including a book and exhibition collecting our classmates’ Instagram travel photography in 2013. After graduating we both found ourselves in London working for well-established larger firms. We decided to started SLAB here in 2017 as an outlet to explore our larger architectural ideas together outside of traditional practice.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where company/ individuals have been involved?

We are not tied to any scale or sector, but interested in exploring how design can improve lives.

Last year, our design for a children’s playhouse won the SketchUp Grand Prize in the competition run by Bob Borson on his blog "Life of an Architect". Our entry, Playhouse Rock, is a musical environment for children to explore sound and space. A large-scale xylophone is built into the floor, two of the windows functions as a guiro and a round-about rain stick and it has buckets for drums hung on along one of the walls. The design was built in Texas in 2017 and raffled off in support of Dallas CASA, a children’s advocacy non-profit.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

For us architectural design is synonymous with problem finding. We want to explore spatial questions, at any scale, and create environments where life can be more enjoyable and interesting for people. Design and the built environment are not static, we don’t believe in solutions, rather in evolving experiments. We believe that good design is a public right and it is the architect’s responsibility to advocate for this right.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

Entering architectural vision competitions is an interesting and collective way for the design community to come together around real problems. We understand competitions as a testing ground for new ideas and as a method to challenge preconceptions about our world. We decided to enter this competition in particular because the housing crisis is a very palpable, very complex issue. Living in London and especially working in architecture, we see every day the tension the housing crisis causes in the city.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture vision competitions?

Sometimes the best thing to kick start your creativity is to find a design question that interests you and to use the structure of a competition as motivation to pursue it. The competition deadline means that you have a limited time to perfect a solution but it will also force you to take the time to come up with ideas and to produce representation. The idea doesn’t need to end with the competition submission either, you can treat it as a jumping off point where you begin to formalize your concept or opinion for later research and refining.

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