We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the Student prize winners of our Kurgi Observation Tower competition – Beixi Zhu and Xi Luo from the United States!

Beixi Zhu and Xi Luo

We are two graduate students from the School of Architecture at Rice University, with different undergraduate backgrounds in China (Southeast University) and Germany (Stuttgart University). Our shared appreciation for the simplicity and rationality of design brought us together to work on this project. This is our first participation in an international competition.

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?

In spring of 2020 Xi completed her thesis project, which focused on the museums in London’s Albertopolis (https://arch.rice.edu/projects/thesis-projects/dinosaur-anthropocene). She has interned internationally in several architecture offices, and was involved in the design development phase of Kengo Kuma’s recently built project, the Kadokawa Culture Museum. Beixi is a current graduate student and research assistant at Rice Architecture. The experience of studying in Germany and the US provided her with a wide range of contexts. Her bachelor thesis project, the Thermal Bath at Rhein, and the Immigration Center of Houston are two of the small scale public projects that are highly context oriented. This summer, she is assisting professor Juan José Castellón with a sustainable architecture prototype project.

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

Architecture is uncertainty. It reacts to changing situations and explores new possibilities. For instance, the era of digitalization was never rendered as realistic as present, when a large percentage of our life moves online; challenges regarding virtual reality are becoming inevitable to architects. Meanwhile, the climate changes and rapid urbanizations that are reshaping our environment call for actions and awareness in the built reality. We are all enthusiastic about giving our answers and seeing the new possibilities of work and life created by architecture under these circumstances.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

Participating in a competition is a good way to motivate ourselves, especially during the time of the pandemic, when the whole industry slows down and employment comes to a standing point – a competition is what keeps our spirits up and our minds active.

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

From a student’s point of view: if it is a topic you are really interested in outside your mandatory studio, go for it. Architectural vision competitions provide great testing grounds for individual ideas and expressions, as well as chances to form good partnerships.

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