We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the Honorable mention winners of our "Iceland Beer Spa" competition – Luca Pistorello, Alban Kalaj and Vincenzo Forese from Italy!

Luca Pistorello, Alban Kalaj and Vincenzo Forese

Please tell us about your company (when it was founded, where it is based, how many employees, etc) Alternatively, if you do not have a company, please give us some insights on your own professional/academia background.

We are a trio who crossed paths at Politecnico di Milano while pursuing our Master's degrees. Alban relocated to Milan from Albania as a child and earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees there. Vincenzo, after completing his bachelor's at IUAV in Venice with a stint in Barcelona, is currently pursuing a dual degree program at Politecnico di Milano and IAU – USP in Brazil. Luca, who also graduated from IUAV in Venice, is currently immersed in his master's thesis at Politecnico di Milano following an exchange semester in Madrid. Additionally, Alban and Luca are gaining practical experience in Milanese architecture firms.

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?

We met during our Master's in Architecture and Urban Design, which each of us chose due to our interest in an approach that combines architectural scale with urban scale. Our design process is interdisciplinary because we believe that architecture has an impact on the landscape, whether urban or natural, and vice versa. Our diverse backgrounds allow us to bring a multitude of visions and approaches to the project, which converge, however, in the shared idea that each project is characterized by its uniqueness that must be tailored to the context, according to the genius loci. Architecture should become an integral part of the place where it is situated. Starting from the context, we approach the conceptual phase with a creative mindset, and then utilize our technical knowledge to translate the concept into a spatial and functional program. Some projects that have addressed the theme of scale change include: for Alban, a social housing project about high density-low rise approach in Iran and his master thesis on Flood Resilient Cities in the city of Shkoder, Albania; for Vincenzo a requalification project focusing on the river of Puglia region as an ecological and social corridor, and a large scale wholesole market in Milan; for Luca, a residential complex in Madrid city centre and a vertical hub for sports and culture in Split.

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

Architecture for us is a continuous evolution of forms, functions, and meanings, which the architect must address in the challenging task of designing according to the spirit of their time, while also keeping in mind that architecture is something that will endure far beyond. Every piece of architecture has an impaact We also believe that architecture has a strong social component because it constructs the living spaces of people. Therefore, the role of the architect is also to create spaces that enable people to live well.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

We believe that architectural competitions offer opportunities to experiment with novel solutions and themes, pushing us out of our comfort zone and challenging our capabilities. It's an excellent method for rapidly acquiring new knowledge and skills. Furthermore, we view competitions as a meritocratic form of recognition and consider idea competitions to be invaluable training for the design challenges we will face in our future careers.

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

In taking on a competition there is nothing to lose but potentially much to gain. It is a fantastic way to develop one's ideas and invest in professional growth. Additionally, it helps us get accustomed to facing new challenges and advancing our ideas.

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