We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the 2nd prize winners of our “Melbourne Affordable Housing Challenge” competition – Maria Gabriela Vaca Sanchez and Sandra Maria Estrada Rosas from Netherlands!

Architecture Competition Melbourne Affordable Housing Challenge 2nd prize winners – Maria Gabriela Vaca Sanchez and Sandra Maria Estrada Rosas

Maria Gabriela Vaca Sanchez and Sandra Maria Estrada Rosas from Netherlands

We are a collaborative team of two architects who met in Eindhoven, Netherlands. We work in different architectural firms based in Europe, but both of us share an interest in the creation and development of ideas and projects that stimulate our creativity and can respond to architectural and urban challenges.

Gabriela graduated as an architect from the Pontificia Universidad del Ecuador. After working in different architectural firms in Ecuador and Argentina, she moved to the Netherlands and received her Master's in Architecture and Building Planning from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). Nowadays, she is working mainly on residential projects.

Sandra is an architect from the Universidad Ricardo Palma (Peru) and an urban designer from the Aix-Marseille Université (France). She worked at different architectural firms, as well as an assistant professor at Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas and at Universidad de Lima, Peru. She is currently working mainly on residential projects and master plans.

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?

This is the first time we are collaborating, but both of us have experience with projects of different scales: from private housing to the design of masterplans. Gabriela personally has focused on the design of residential projects, and Sandra has worked on research in the field of architectural design and on the development of housing projects, hotel complexes, and public spaces.

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

For us, architecture is the practice that allows us to test and create different strategies that will configure a space, building, or urban space. As architects, it is our responsibility to translate the ideas and needs from different actors into spaces to be enjoyed; and in these spaces, you should be able to create narratives. The role of an architect in our society is to observe, analyze, and propose projects which should respond not only to individual necessities, but also to the environmental demands of our planet.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

An architecture competition allows us to think outside of the box and test different solutions to respond to current challenges, such as fast-growing cities and increasing housing demands.

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

We would like to say that it is a great way of exploring and testing your creativity. We enjoyed the discussion and experimentation with different ideas, having hardly any restrictions. Also, it’s a great way of growing professionally because it could help you create new connections with fellow architects throughout this process.

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