We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the winners of the Honorable mention of our “Modern Collective Living Challenge” competition - Mengzhu Jiang , Kyle Hui and Naidi Li from Australia!

Kyle Hui, Mengzhu Jiang and Naidi Li from Australia

Kyle, Mengzhu and Naidi met and became friends through studying at The University of Melbourne. As we all have a strong interest in Chinese culture, we decided to participate in this competition to further explore and learn about the social issues raised from the rapid urbanization in China.

Kyle was born in Hong Kong, and grew up in Melbourne Australia, where upon his graduation with a Bachelor of Environments and a Master’s in Architecture (both completed at the The University of Melbourne), he is now a Graduate of Architecture at RBA Architects and Conservation Consultants, a local firm specializing in heritage architecture, as well as contemporary alterations and additions.

Mengzhu was born in China and grew up in both New Zealand and Australia. She graduated from The University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Environments majoring in architecture. Since graduating, she has worked in Beijing at MAD architects and is currently working at HASSELL, a multi-disciplinary firm in Melbourne, exploring varying scales of architecture. While living in Beijing, she became fascinated by the way communities occupy public spaces in a way that’s almost like an extension of their private home.

Naidi received her Bachelor’s degree majoring in landscape architecture at the University of Melbourne. After graduation, she took a gap year working at BAM, an American based award-winning landscape architecture firm back in her hometown Beijing. It was at that time she started to explore the synergy between architecture and landscape architecture. Now Naidi has come back to Australia to continue her Master’s degree in landscape architecture at The University of Melbourne. Her current design tendency is to integrate both landscape architecture and architecture. As a Chinese citizen, Naidi observed some of her relatives and friends involved in this massive urbanization trend in China. Their results are good and bad, which made her start to think about the possibilities/ potential of landscape/architecture design that could be contributed to this urban development.

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

Mengzhu: Architecture is a physical response to the time that it’s in. The role of the architect is to capture this time through form, space and material by problem-solving innovatively to resolve the complications that come with a progressive society.

Kyle: Where shelter is one of the basic necessities of life, architecture and design is the evidence of human thought, and to an extent, civilization. From this, architecture has an active role in the creation, and as the major driver to the way people live their lives. Certainly, architecture is also very responsive to a changing society in regards to economics, way of life, global mobility, etc. but it is the sole industry that responds to these factors, and contributes to it in physically designing and furthering how one lives and organizes their lives amongst the mentioned tides of change.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

Kyle: Participating in competitions, especially ones with a heavy theme on conceptual visions, is always a good opportunity to test one’s creativity, and marry it with viability. A major reason for me, is to regard the competition as an opportunity to attempt new, or unfamiliar briefs and visions, just for the sake of experience. For this particular competition, our team was particularly drawn to the brief, as we all have Chinese backgrounds, and are heavily interested in Chinese culture and customs. Furthermore, as contemporary Chinese architecture and practices are becoming more and more well known, we saw it as an opportunity to engage to take part in briefs to do with the contemporary problems China now face.

Naidi: Participating in architecture vision competitions would awaken designers’ sensitivity towards social development. To be more specific, architects would find more clues through participating in these competitions to help them realize there is still a large space for them to do design instead of taking everything for granted.

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

Kyle and Mengzhu: By participating in a competition as a student, it makes you question the design process without any guidance from academic staff, or peers with more professional experience. At the same time, designing without such constraints allows one to be free to engage ideas that one may have never had the opportunity to explore. Often, whether one is still studying, or already working, the appropriate ‘style’ of the final product is constrained by others’ expectations and other similar situations. However, with the freedom of a competition, one is at liberty to test and create unconventional or otherwise unique designs at hearts’ will. Furthermore, like our group, where each of us lives our own busy lives, it gives a reason to catch up and create something, even if it is just for fun.

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