Architecture competition "London Affordable Housing Challenge" Student award winner

We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the winners of the Student prize of our “London Affordable Housing Challenge” competition - Yip Siu from United Kingdom!

Yip Siu from United Kingdom

Currently completing his MArch (Part II) at the Bartlett School of Architecture, Yip has taken an interest in housing design and the process of developing a participatory approach to architecture through an engaged involvement of local communities and actors. Recently, he has given a talk on a workshop he attended in Portugal that utilised Socio-Spatial Practice to address the precarious situation of Roma Communities.

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?

He has worked across a range of project teams at Rick Mather Architects / MICA to deliver projects in Central London, Oxford and Lancaster. Currently, he is working on the delivery of a private house in South London and setting up Suhdio Siudio, which takes an interest in theoretical, small-scale and participatory projects.

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

For me the role of the architect goes beyond the mere practicalities of delivering a building. The social role that a designer must play in understanding and addressing the needs of a population, especially those that are in precarious situations is critical. Actively engaging with communities to give spatial agency to the public as part of the design process is key to my understanding of architecture. Through this, the homogenization of our cityscapes could be remedied through speculative thinking and grounded approaches to social design that does not become a mechanized, tick-box exercise. Similar to this competition, challenging buzz-words such as ‘affordability’ and ‘housing’ in the context our liquid modern society is key.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

Architecture visions competitions allow for speculative ideas to be born that are free from various constraints involved with a built proposal. However, keeping in mind the reality of the socio-political and economic pressures of our world today, such competitions also encourage a negotiation between the speculative and the utilitarian, where a delicate balance could be struck in such short timeframes. Ultimately, competitions are a testing ground for ideas and I see them as a time-based exercise to develop and quickly respond meaningfully to a brief and its core ideas.

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

I would advise individuals who are struggling to decide to just try it out! With the time constraints, simply treat it as an exercise to speculate and test out new ideas that you may have parked or concepts that you have not been able to realise as of yet!

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