Architecture students' world-beating design
10 May 2011
Two University of Sydney Master of Architecture students have won first prize in the Barcelona 2011 International Architecture Competition, beating 500 other entries.
Marinel Dator and Katie Yeung's design, titled The Hanging Cloud: Lightweight Living for Barcelona incorporates a reinterpretation of Antoni Gaudi's inverted hanging model, with the tower broken down into light suspended elements.
The challenge for the competition consisted of designing a 100-metre tall, "zero-ecological impact" tower-hostel that would create a new landmark for Barcelona opposite the city's Museum of Contemporary Art, which was designed by renowned architect Richard Meier.
The external façade of the Dator and Yeung winning design was eliminated to create a physically and visually permeable form.
"We developed a concept that created something aesthetically and spatially unique, and ran with it. We made sure that the clarity of the concept was strong and never lost during the process," said Marinel.
The winning design utilises locally produced terracotta columns to collect and preserve water at a constant temperature to create thermal comfort, and vibro-wind panels on the columns and pods to capture wind vibrations to create energy.
The competition was open to professional architects (students could enter if accompanied by academic staff), which makes the students' win even more remarkable. The prize money is $3500 and a trip to Barcelona.
The design brief for the competition was incorporated into the Master of Architecture's Sustainable Architecture Research Studio. Daniel Ryan, the studio co-ordinator, said, "We encourage students to participate in architectural competitions as we hope that the public and private sector in New South Wales will start to recognise the value of competitions for both the commissioning of avant-garde architecture and the support of a new generation of architectural practice."
The students, who balance work at architectural firms Bates Smart and Patrick O'Carrigan and Partners, with full-time studies, put a lot of work into the project. "We each spent about 20 hours per week working on this design," said Marinel.
"We could see presentations used for previous awards," Katie said, "so we had a precedent for the high standard we had to aim towards. It was not just the architectural design we had to get right but how you present it graphically."
The fact that the students have beaten 500 other entries from around the world is a testament to their skill and the learning environment of the faculty. Marinel and Katie's and work was first assessed by panel of academics and practitioners including Adrian Carter, John de Manincor and Sarah Benton as one of four student projects that were selected for entry into the competition.
The tutors for the studio were Daniel Ryan, Allison Earl and Associate Professor Glen Hill and consultants Su-Fern Tan, Matt Markham-Lee and Professor Max Irvine.
Marinel and Katie will leave for Barcelona in early June for an awards ceremony. It will be both winners' first visit not only to Barcelona but also to Europe.
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