Architecture Competition SKYHIVE 2019 Skyscraper Challenge Honorable mention - Yidian Liu and Nathaniel Banks

We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the winners of the Honorable mention of our “SKYHIVE 2019 Skyscraper Challenge ” competition - Yidian Liu and Nathaniel Banks from Hong Kong! SKYHIVE19 Honorable mention from Hong Kong

Yidian Liu and Nathaniel Banks from Hong Kong

The two team members are from very different cultural backgrounds. Nathaniel was born in London (England) whilst Yidian was born in Tianjin (China). They studied together at Syracuse University in New York, and graduated with Bachelor degrees in Architecture in 2018. As a team, they received the James A. Britton award for ‘faculty favorite thesis project’.

During university, Nathaniel worked for Aptum architecture (Julie Larsen and Roger Hubeli) and assisted in producing designs for several local and international architecture competitions. In 2018, he joined the landscape architecture practice ‘Grant Associates’, where he currently works as a 3D specialist. In his free time, he likes to experiment with generative design systems, and their potential architectural applications.

Yidian has worked for several international firms during her studies, including LOLA Landscape Architects in the Netherlands, West Architecture in London, Vector Architects in Beijing, and the New York City Housing Authority. She is very curious about how inhabitants are affected by architecture in a variety of contexts. After graduation, she joined Aedas in Hong Kong to investigate how mega projects are developed in mainland China.

We both have been involved in a variety of different projects this year. These have been as large as urban master plan projects including a bid for the design of the new eco city Xiong An, to as small as retail store designs. We both enjoy designing details and discussing the specific materials and technologies we want to incorporate into our work. This has unfortunately proven hard to do on many of our larger scale projects.

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

That is a very hard question to answer. If you look back historically, architects are always trying to manipulate the built environment to resolve issues faced by the society of their time. When modernism first came about, much of the world faced a housing crisis, and there was still a large disconnect between the way manufacturing was able to mass produce industrial products, and the slow, inefficient ways in which buildings were produced. Modernism and subsequent styles, bridged that disconnect as a means of resolving the crisis. Our current society is now experiencing a rapid evolution in how it interacts with technology. With China introducing a social credit score in the near future, and our general obsession with social media, people are now developing ‘augmented digital personas’. We believe that architecture as it currently exists, fails to address this emerging digitally integrated society, and we are very interested in exploring how architecture can begin to interact and be influenced by it.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

We both love to test our abilities and ideas whenever we can. Vision competitions are great for doing this. These competitions allow us to refine our time management and representation skills as well as provide a great opportunity for us to test out new ideas we’ve been thinking of, and see what critical response they may receive. This is especially important to us considering the current economic climate. The market is flooded with new design companies, each competing for client attention. In order to stand out from the crowd, we need to test more radical proposals that try to do something new. Free from the constraints of market dynamics, these competitions are perfect testing grounds where we can showcase our innovative work and garner a good reputation among colleagues in the process.

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

These competitions are one of the few areas where young architects are able to fully showcase their new ideas, free of monetary, corporate or client specific constraints. It’s also a great way to get your name out there in the industry. Lastly, but most importantly, they can be really fun, and a welcome break from the monotony often found in the profession. For us at least, competitions have been profoundly beneficial, giving us a space where we can give life to our ideas and pursue our passions. Something that is often lost in the professional world.

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