We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the 1st prize winners of our “Cambodia Remote Hideout Huts” competition – Yee Foo (Vincent) Lai, Douglas Lee and Xiaokang Feng from United States!

1st prize winners from United States

Yee Foo (Vincent) Lai is currently a full-time practicing Architectural Designer at Adjaye Associates, New York. He holds a Master of Architecture from University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from National University of Singapore, where he received AKZO Nobel Gold medal for distinction in Architectural Design. He has diverse design and research experience, previously working in such leading international firms as SOM, OPEN Architecture, Vo Trong Nghia Architects, and Aedas.

Douglas Lee is a Chinese-Canadian designer and a Master of Architecture candidate at UC Berkeley, and he is currently taking a gap year to work abroad. He received a Bachelor of Science in Urban Planning, Design & Management from The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment at UCL. His work experience includes OMA/AMO, SANAA, The Open Workshop, BIG, and SLA.

Xiaokang Feng is a freelance architectural designer in Seattle and Bay Area. He holds a Master of Architecture from University of California, Berkeley, with one of the coveted Lee Family Fund for Housing and Social Architecture awards and certificate in user experience design. He has diverse experiences at studios across the globe, including MAD, Henning Larsen, Kengo Kuma, and Kwan Henmi. 

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance, what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where the company/ individuals have been involved?

Under the design collective of Temporary Office, our team has worked on several competitions crossing the boundaries of architecture, public space, and preservation. With a strong focus on historic research and precedence, we seek to constructively respond to the ever-changing needs of our environment in a rational, yet playful way.

We are currently working on multiple furniture designs and experimental landscape installations. We enjoy designing at multiple scales, as the speed and attention given to conceive the product, installation, and architecture itself varies. The varying timelines enable the multi-scalar projects to cross-pollinate from each other in our practice. Carefully designed and crafted intimate experiences can also positively affect the larger ecosystem of experiences and vice-versa.

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

We are truly enthralled by today’s work of architecture around the world and its rapid speed in transforming the world in multiple ways. No matter if it is delivering sustainable designs or reshaping current urban systems, our role as architects in a highly globalised world mandates us to be active observers and participants in the strong diverse social-cultural context we work in. Our practice focuses on interpreting and structuring manifold narratives, migrated ideas, materials, practices, and people in the form of contemporary design.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

We take conversational ideas seriously. With our diverse backgrounds and inquisitive mind to design, we tend to generate many ideas, and some are just purely on a conversational level. It is precisely this spontaneity and novelty that is worth exploring further in a rigorous competition setting.

We also want to leverage the briefs to learn more about the characteristics of the place (context specific) or architectural systems (non-context specific). Architecture vision competitions usually encourage non-typical strategies to topical issues. With that spirit, competition provides a great balance in allowing architects to reflect on current conditions and limitations while projecting a possible future that our world has yet to witness.

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

Instead of looking at the competition through the lens of awards and recognition, look at it as an opportunity to exercise your interest on a topic that is deeply embedded in your passion. It is a testing bed to refine one’s ideas or ideals without biases. In addition to that, big ideas come to fruition with a big push. Therefore, deadlines are an important driver to motivate a project forward. The competition’s timeframe is one of those drivers to bring our ideas to the world.

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