We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the Green prize winners of our “Iceland Cave Tower” competition – Vaia Vakouli
 and Orestis Gkouvas from United Kingdom!

Architecture Competition Iceland Cave Tower Green prize winners – Vaia Vakouli
 and Orestis Gkouvas

Orestis Gkouvas and Vaia Vakouli
 from United Kingdom

Vaia and Orestis are two architects from Greece. They met at Henning Larsen Architects in 2015. Just before getting too comfortable with the Scandinavian “hygge”, they went into new ventures. During the unsettling times of the coronavirus, they joined ‘remote’ forces to work on a competition proposal for SKERA visitor centre in Iceland.

Vaia and Orestis see architecture as a holistic approach to solving problems. Orestis has an eye for details, a fine spatial perception, and enjoys sketching. His experience spans throughout typology and scale, and his strength lies in concept design. On the other hand, Vaia is a big-picture thinker with an analytical mind. She loves to find the pattern behind the story and enjoys problem solving. Her ability to provide unconventional solutions is a rare designer’s quality. They are based in London and Athens.

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?

Vaia and Orestis find value in diverse scales and contexts. They have participated in award-winning projects and explored the finest moments in Nordic Design. Together they combine expertise in environmental building design and lighting design. They have worked on small- and large-scale projects in Europe and Asia. Their working experience includes award-winning practices, like Henning Larsen Architects, Speirs + Major, and LINK Arkitektur.

Vaia is currently an architect at Penoyre & Prasad/ Perkins & Will, working on educational and residential projects.

Orestis is a project architect at Corstorphine + Wright. He leads small-scale residential projects in London and Athens and is the curator of @thewhitegoo.

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

Architecture can make you crack a smile!

It describes the method you apply to change the built environment. As a process, it can be slow and requires patience. Unlike most of today’s implementations, architecture cannot provide a quick fix to the problem. But, when the common benefit is big, so is the personal reward. An architect provides solutions that catch the needs of society and adapt to the change. An architect's role is to challenge and push forward as technology and culture evolves.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

When you are young, a competition helps you find a narrative, present an idea, and get familiar with silly deadlines. As you get older, a competition is a good way to break routine. Competitions offer a rare opportunity to showcase and experiment with ideas and architectural expression without restrictions. You challenge your skills and learn new things.

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

The feeling of getting shortlisted – can’t beat that!

Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Enter Architecture Competitions

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