We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to one of our Honorable mention winners for our "Gaudi La Coma Artists’ Residences" competition – Franny Chang and Erin Judkins from Australia!

Honorable mention from Australia

Erin: Throughout the duration of my Bachelor’s Degree, I worked in a small residential, community, and commercial-based practice in the Melbourne CBD. I engaged in various works related to conservation, heritage, education, and community with an emphasis on government-contracted projects. Since completing my degree in Australia, I have relocated to London and am currently working as an intern for a practice specialising in heritage extensions and new builds in central and greater London. I am currently working towards gaining certification in Passivhaus design and look forward to actively engaging in sustainability-focused projects.

Franny: I am currently undertaking my first year of Masters of Architectural Design. I am also participating at a small architectural firm as an intern, exploring and deepening my understanding about the built environment through a practical lens.

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

Erin: Primarily I have been involved in residential projects and governmentcontracted projects related to conservation and heritage. Most recently I have engaged in projects focusing on extensions, alterations, and additions to heritage homes in London. These projects have ranged from small-scale to large-scale developments. 

Franny: The architectural firm I am involved in have encountered projects ranging from residential to commercial, from heritage fit outs to dental clinics and restaurants. The firm places emphasis on the human scale, creating spaces that are unique to the user while aiming to achieve spatial authenticity that is enhanced by careful material procurement.

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

Erin: I believe it is the role of the architect to ask the questions no one knows yet to ask; to re-formulate and encourage dynamic spatial relationships and offer opportunities for growth both interpersonally and spatially. 

Franny: To me, architecture should enable humans to unify and connect with nature and its immediate surroundings. There should be a dialogue between the built and the naturally occurring, whilst allowing users to utilise the space in a functional manner. Hence, the role of the architect is to become a mediator between people and nature and ensure that the spaces created are not only serving people, but also giving back to nature to achieve a balance.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

Erin: Personally, I think competitions are the best means of obtaining knowledge. Working in practice is excellent as to improve one’s professional skills but is restricting when it comes to creative freedom and in some cases offers a minimal challenge. It is a very formulated means of design; therefore competitions offer an often-complex brief with considerations that exceed normal life and architectural design. Suddenly you are not only designing architecture but crafting and curating fine art, interiors, landscapes, and other multidisciplinary fields which is extremely beneficial for curiosity and improving your style as an individual. 

Franny: Architecture competitions are a great opportunity to venture out and create designs that push boundaries and are more experimental. It allows students like me and my team to think critically about our own designs and challenge the way we think about architecture.

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

Erin: One piece of advice I would give is to not treat competitions as a university task or work project, pick one that you are genuinely interested in, one that you won’t get sick of, and one that will challenge you. They are designed to encourage idea generation and promote new ways of thinking so treat the brief as your friend, not foe. Ultimately at the end of the day, you will only get from a competition what you put in! 

Franny: As there are many competitions to choose from, choose one that best interests you, especially if it is related to your future profession or best aligns with your design thinking. There are no downsides to participating as you will learn more about yourself, your understanding of architecture whilst being able to reflect on the design process and how they may benefit you in the future.

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