We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the winner of the 3rd prize of our “Abu Dhabi Flamingo Observation Tower” competition - Panagiotis Dimakidis and Rafail Gkaidatzis from Netherlands!

Abu Dhabi Flamingo Observation Tower 3rd prize winners

Panagiotis Dimakidis and Rafail Gkaidatzis from Netherlands

We are two Greek architects from the Netherlands whose main goal is to envision and transform our urban environment in order to shape a better and more sustainable future for the next generations. Combining our slightly different academic backgrounds we have been collaborating actively in The Netherlands and abroad in various types of projects.

Panagiotis Dimakidis completed his Master’s studies in 2017 at the Polytechnic University of Turin with a specialization in sustainable design. Since then he has been working for renowned Dutch architectural firms such as RAU architects, KAW and ZJA architects.

Rafail Gkaidatzis received his Master’s degree in 2014 from Delft University of Technology with a specialization in the design of sustainable structures. From 2015 he has been working for firms such as the international engineering consulting firm Royal Haskoning DHV and ZJA architects  while he maintained a position at Delfts University of Technology as a researcher/ lecturer in the field of bridge design and sustainable structural materials.

Our professional experience covers a diverse field of projects that vary in scale and typology, ranging from city-level interventions, infrastructure and urban masterplans to installations and pavilion structures.

Since 2016, Panagiotis Dimakidis has contributed on projects such as the recently built bird observatory center in The Netherlands, called ‘T IJ (RAU Architects in collaboration with RO&AD architects) and the project Triango, a new type of office area in Paris (RAU Architects in collaboration with SeArch and Karres+Brands). The latter was distinguished in 2018 with the prestigious International Architecture Award in the mixed-use category.

Additionally, in 2014 Rafail Gkaidatzis received the first prize in a competition for the design and construction of a pedestrian-bicycle bridge in the outskirts of Delft in The Netherlands. The bridge was realized and delivered to the public two years later.

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

For us architecture is the art and science of creating the spaces that shape our lives. It is about making the environments where we spent the largest part of our personal life, where we produce and work, where we communicate and meet other people. Architecture impacts our society and makes us who we are. Therefore, architects contribute into making these spaces, buildings, or cities livable, inclusive, healthy and sustainable. However, we should be aware that architects are involved in just a part of the built environment, together with politicians, developers, engineers and builders and that the role of the architect might shift under the rapid technological advancements.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

Conceptual architecture, even if not built, expresses the direction of our society and how we envision our future. Participating in conceptual architecture competitions offers the opportunity to escape from the strict limitations that a real commission carries and allow for exploring freely new ideas. Furthermore, they often give architects the opportunity to expand their experience and portfolio on non-conventional projects that extend internationally beyond the regions of a country.

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

Many of the world’s largest architectural firms began their careers by winning an architectural competition, while some of the most emblematic buildings - such as the Pompidou Center in Paris - were the result of winning prizes given to young visionary yet unknown architects. Competitions in our field give architects the opportunity to receive international recognition, start their careers and get the chance to see their own designs being built. Participating in an architectural competition can be beneficial for architects in other ways too. Creativity is an important element in our profession, which unfortunately is often neglected during working on certain phases of a real-life project. Architectural competitions, therefore, offer a chance to practice our creativity and think out of the box.

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