We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the 3rd prize winners of our "Los Angeles Affordable Housing Challenge" competition – Zuzanna Bucko and Alona Usychenko from Poland!

Zuzanna Bucko and Alona Usychenko

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.

Currently, Zuzanna and I are pursuing our master's degrees in architecture at the Warsaw University of Technology. Last year, we successfully completed our bachelor's degrees in engineering, also at Warsaw University of Technology. Prior to joining this university, I, Alona Usychenko, pursued studies at Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture. Meanwhile, Zuzanna has amassed invaluable professional experience over the years, working with various interior design firms. I recently concluded my tenure at Kruszewski-Architects.

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?

Our primary focus lies in projects related to public utility buildings and designing public spaces on a small urban scale. In the scope of our engineering thesis, Zuzanna was involved in the expansion of a train station in Wyszków, encompassing landscape architecture elements and interior design enhancements for the existing structure. Meanwhile, I undertook a project for an orangery in Wrocław, designed to function as a senior club. Additionally, we collaborated on submissions for competitions, such as the urban and architectural concept for a new research campus within the Łukasiewicz network. Zuzanna specializes in interior design projects, while I have contributed to multi-family housing projects and various public utility buildings.

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

Architecture serves as both a tool for facilitating and enabling comfortable human life, addressing the problems faced by people, and as a means of conveying one's philosophy to the audience.

Unfortunately, in our society (referring to both Polish and Ukrainian perspectives), architects are not solely focused on architecture. To succeed in the job market, architects must also act as draftsmen, salespeople for their projects, and to a lesser extent, as structural engineers, urban planners, and interior designers. Architects must balance between creating comfortable spaces for residents and fulfilling typical projects for maximum profits. However, we hope that in the near future, architects in our society will focus more on designing ideological projects aimed at improving living conditions for all.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

For us, participating in architecture competitions offers the opportunity to approach design in a less typical manner. The guidelines and requirements for competition projects often allow us to think outside the box, which greatly aids in creating increasingly innovative work. As students, it's important for us to showcase our projects beyond the university setting. Both the chance to receive feedback on our designs from industry specialists and the opportunity to win various awards are additional reasons for us to participate in competitions.

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

When someone struggles to decide whether to participate in architecture competitions, the answer is always the same - it's worth it. Competitions often offer the opportunity to work on less typical design topics. Despite this, competitions frequently address social, economic, and other issues. Through articles and publications, we as architects can demonstrate that these problems can be partially solved through architecture. Both by addressing these issues and thinking outside the box, we gain new professional skills. For students especially, it's a chance to showcase and improve their abilities.

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