Design comfortable, sustainable visitor huts for the Abu Dhabi protected nature reserve
We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the winner of the 2nd prize of our “New York Affordable Housing Challenge” competition - Peter Wong, Christopher Jarrett, Nazinin Modaresahmadi and Robert Stubbs from USA!
2nd prize winners from USA- DesignLAB
DesignLAB at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) was established in 2015 as a design research space in the School of Architecture. As an extension of the School’s curricular and community outreach efforts, DesignLAB is a venue where faculty and students collaborate on innovative design projects that aim to advance contemporary professional, theoretical, and technical issues facing architecture today.
The DesignLAB is supported by research funds and grants and professional collaboration that afford a variety of investigative projects, from housing to school design, and from computational research to urban problems. A large part of its efforts is to generate design ingenuity via speculative works such as competitions and laboratory projects. Headed by architects Chris Jarrett (Columbia University, 1986) and Peter Wong (University of Pennsylvania, 1985), the DesignLAB employs graduate and undergraduate students as a way of extending the School’s design focus and to advance its teaching agenda.
Recent projects in the DesignLAB center on architectural design competitions including: The World Forestry Congress’s 2015 Wood Affordable Housing Competition for Durban, South Africa, and ActivateNC Urban Housing Competition (which received a merit citiation). In addition, DesignLAB is currently working on a research project with the Department of Computer Science at UNC Charlotte involving psycho-spatial eyetracking tools to assess the effects of contemporary architectural space.
Architecture is everywhere. Architecture is space. Architecture is matter. It is the meat and bones and energy of the places we inhabit. Architecture is a passion. It’s hard, fraught with challenges, absorbing nearly every discipline in the arts, humanities and sciences. It’s mental and physical. It is existential and at the same time very real. While facing a myriad of functional and technical concerns, architecture has the capacity to move us in ways that are different than any other form of art - music, painting, sculpture, dance. Architectural space envelopes us and has the capacity to surprise us and elevate our spirit. This is its challenge.
Idea competitions are a venue to test ideas and speculate on the possibilities of architecture. They are a luxury of sorts, free of many typical constraints, but they also have their own hidden challenges. They are also sometimes a necessity to land the next commission. Competitions have the capacity to bring critical ideas and innovative thinking and design to the public sphere in ways that other kinds of professional activity cannot. Competitions push ideas forward. They have the capacity to advance the discourse of architecture through visual projection. Most significantly, idea competitions tend to advance the discipline of design. New design strategies, methods and design techniques often emerge to the benefit of not only the design team but the discipline of design at large.
There is no need to struggle to decide the benefits of participating in idea competitions. Just do it. Consider it necessary exercise. Competitions are an excellent way to improve the quality of one’s own work, to test ideas, to think critically and reflectively, to sharpen one’s skills. Competitions generate excitement. They keep things fresh in the office. They challenge the status quo. While it requires much effort, the reward of participating in competitions is rejuvenating, motivating and often leads to something interesting, whether it is a new set of ideas or agendas, a unique experience or the next project. No need to struggle. Consider competitions to be an integral part of any architect’s portfolio.