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Commonwealth Association of Architects student competition.

The Commonwealth Association of Architects triennial student competition was judged earlier this year in Bloemfontein, South Africa. A record of 222 entires from all over the British Commonwealth offered great range and variety. Jury chairman Peter Davey reports.

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The jury (*) was impressed by the range and variety of the 222 submissions from all over the world which were entered for the competition to design a house for a writer. The number of entries was a record. Most students had thought very carefully about site and climatic conditions, local culture and principles of sustainability. Almost all entrants had carefully considered the needs and character of the author for whom they had decided to work, and most showed an interest in literature unusual in a notoriously ill-read profession.

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As a jury, we were (in the end) unanimous in our choice of the first, second and third prizes, and in selection of the best submission from a student in the first or second years. Honorary mentions have been made of entries to which we were unable to give a prize, though they were impressive and often inventive. All prize-winning and mentioned projects are, in very different ways, examples of placemaking and attempts to live in harmony with the planet. Shown here are all the premiated schemes with the jury's comments.

* Phillip Kungu (Commonwealth Association of Architects President, Kenya)

Patrick Stanigar (architect, Jamaica)

Mira Fassler-Kamstra (architect, South Africa)

Peter Davey (jury chairman and Editor of The Architectural Review, United Kingdom)

First prize ([pounds sterling]1200): Henry Williams, fourth year, University of Adelaide, Australia

The project is executed with great simplicity and clarity. It has an extraordinary sensitive relationship to its site, rolling downland studded with tress. Sensuous links between writer and the surrounding grassland were very carefully considered, with the house partly dug into the slope, so that desk and grass seem to grow together. It would undoubtedly be a calm and tranquil place to work in.

The work is very well detailed and beautifully drawn, so the textures and almost the smell of the materials are forcibly projected from the boards. It is always difficult to present the spatial, lummous and tectonic qualities of a minimalist design on paper in two dimensions yet the entrant has managed to do so admirably.

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Second prize ([pounds sterling]500) and group work prize ([pounds sterling]200): Ujjval Panchal + Sachin Soni, fifth year, School of Architecture CEPT Ahmedabad, India

In contrast to the rural setting of the first prize winning project (and indeed the majority of entries), the authors of the second prize winning scheme chose to reinterpret the dense texture of old Ahmedabad. The scheme takes its form from the traditional tenement, Illuminated and ventilated by chowks, light wells penetrating the mass of the building.

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The jury was convinced by the excellent arguments for the design, and by the way in which the chowk of the tenement had become the focus of the new work, which shows sequences of space and light that are both appropriate to tradition and the city, and to the calm and quiet a writer needs. Some jury members were worried by the relative lack of technical and environmental information about the design.

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Commended scheme

Prize for entrant in first or second year ([pounds sterling]200): Stephen Lammas, second year, Unitech School of Architecture, Auckland, New Zealand

The affinity of this project to its magnificent site was thought by the jury to be exceptional. The brief was clearly and economically interpreted. Yet the design is far from minimalist, and it would undoubtedly provide a series of small but very varied and stimulating spaces for an active and fit writer.

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Jury members were impressed in general by the number and quality of entries from first and second year students, so this prize was won against stiff competition.

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Third prize ([pounds sterling]200): Vongai P. P. Pasirayi, third year, National University of Science and Technology, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

The jury was impressed by the spatial and luminous qualities of the third prize-winning project. It offers both comfort and calm, and a great experiential range within a small compass. Relationships of interior spaces to the beautiful site were particularly well considered. The brief was carefully and inventively interpreted.

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But some jury members had reservations about the external appearance of the house which, they thought, seemed naive and clumsy. Nevertheless, the house would undoubtedly create a real and stimulating sense of place.

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Title Annotation:Competition
Publication:The Architectural Review
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:753
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