We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the Green prize winners of our "Iceland Volcano Lookout Point" competition – Brandon Bergem, Jeffrey Garcia and Martin Drozdowski from Canada!

Office In Search Of (OISO) is an interdisciplinary architecture, design, and research practice founded in 2019 by Brandon Bergem and Jeffrey Garcia, based in Toronto, Canada. Martin Drozdowski is a member of OISO.

Brandon Bergem holds a Bachelor of Environmental Design from the University of Manitoba and a Master of Architecture from the University of Toronto. Brandon’s research interests pertain to representation, cultural narratives, and mythologies in contexts of transformation and post-history.

Jeffrey Garcia is an educator and designer with a research focus on the integration of data, digital fabrication, and storytelling as a method of experimental preservation. Jeffrey is currently a Sessional Lecturer at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design.

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? 

OISO frequently participates in design competitions with other designers. Recent projects include: “Boom Town at the Bentway”, a civic intervention in Toronto, Canada (in collaboration with 5468796 Architecture); "Beneath the City: Rivers", a research-exhibition contribution to the 2021 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism (as part of the design collective GAMBJTS); and “Wrap Shack”, a warming hut on the skating trail along the Red River, Winnipeg, Canada (in collaboration with Megan Krahn).

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

Architecture and design are reminders of what it means to be an accountable citizen in an increasingly fraught world endangered by climate change, compromised by social injustice, and devastated by an international pandemic. Our role is to observe, synthesize, and manifest places that are programmatically rich and phenomenologically profound.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions? 

Competitions facilitate testing ideas that are often untenable in a regular architecture and design practice. For us specifically, they are invitations to work with our friends. Every entry was done as an opportunity to spend time with people profoundly passionate about architectural discourse. They are open forums to exchange ideas, regardless of if there was consensus or dissimilarity among us. Every competition is an intellectual exercise where every project incrementally hones the clarity of our design intentions, realization, production, and representation. They allow us to indulge in sometimes obtuse research, where accumulating resources and precedents is a challenge requiring as much innovation in acquiring as application. For this competition in particular, we give thanks to our friends Shea Gouthro and Diana Franco for their energy and discourse in ideating on what a lookout might be.

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

Competitions are entry points to understand places, people, and cultures better. The inspiring aspect of competitions is the equity they afford for practitioners, students, and enthusiasts because they are not predicated on an entrant's background, knowledge, skill, or experience. They solicit innovation in its purest form, unburdened by perceived constraints of who can be a designer and what architecture represents. When entering a competition, physical, political, social, and cultural boundaries are not hindrances. Instead, they are a marketplace for ideas to be shared worldwide. Every competition reminds us why we are designers because they are a mirror reflecting our aspirations, imagination, and passions.

Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Enter Architecture Competitions

Curious about the value of architecture competitions? Discover the transformative power they can have on your career - from igniting creativity and turning designs into reality, to gaining international recognition.

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