We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the Student and Green prize winners of our “Mega Dunes Eco Lodges - Abu Dhabi” competition –Thomas Berger and Lukas Vermeulen from Germany!

Student and Green Award winners from Germany

After studying the wide field of architecture for three years, both of us received our Bachelor of Science from the University of Aachen in the summer of 2019. We chose quite different topics for our bachelor’s theses. While Thomas was focusing on a design project at the chair for structural design, I finished my bachelor’s thesis with a research project at the chair for design computation. Even though we focused on completely different projects we both were nominated by our faculty for a student award handed out to the top students of the province. Despite a great competition put on by the other universities, Thomas was able to bring one award back to Aachen.

After completing our bachelor’s degrees, we set out to gain some practical experience and took internships at KAAN architects in Rotterdam and, respectively, KSP Jürgen Engel architects in Frankfurt/Main. With our first experiences in the bag, we now are back in Aachen to begin the master’s program of architecture.

In our eyes, the fact that we focus on different aspects of architecture and take different approaches let us complement each other in an efficient and productive way which makes us a great team.

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?

Besides the already interdisciplinary work associated with studying architecture, we both were able to work as student assistants for different companies focused on different aspects of architecture. While Luk worked at a company which developed VR applications for architects, I pursued a job at a company specialized in aviation consultancy, airport planning, and decision support. Those jobs gave us the opportunity to extend our field of creative work in architecture to more analytically-orientated and technical work.

As we both are still studying full time, the only architectural projects we got in our sights up until now were our internships projects at KAAN architects and KSP Jürgen Engel architects. In our individual internships, we were part of a team focused on the design and realization of different high-rises. Within these projects, we werw first acquainted with the challenges of the complex and interdisciplinary nature that comes with the design and realization of large-scale projects which was an exciting new experience.

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

After giving quite some thought to this question, we came up with our definition of architecture: From our view, in a general way architecture is the stage human lives play on. At a closer look great architecture is an aesthetic response to the location and its future purpose.

As the stage for human life, architecture defines the background of the daily routines taking place and therefore influences and reflects the way we live and what we do. Since our society has been and always will be full of fundamental changes to which this stage and background of our society must adapt, it is essential to face this process with creative minds. In conclusion, we think the role of an architect in our society is to connect the trained “architectural mindset”, consisting of technological knowledge and creative working methods on a basis of social and cultural responsibilities, to other disciplines. We can only shape our future society together.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

Competitions offer a fantastic way to hone your skills and to test them in a competitive environment. From CAD- and rendering- to design skills, everything can be practiced. The same counts for group working; competing as a team is a great way to practice working together with other people and learn something about yourself.

At the same time, it is always interesting to see how people across the world with different backgrounds, education and design notions develop a wide range of different approaches to the same topic. Furthermore, one can expose himself and his work to the public, to gather feedback and criticism which then is a great opportunity to grow.

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

Architecture vision competitions offer a great opportunity to explore new fields and research new topics. They offers possibilities to do unique projects with lots of creative freedom you would normally not be a part of.

Think of them as ways to broaden one’s horizon by exposing yourself to completely new areas. Maybe don’t expect to win your first competition. Focusing on making a good project and having fun rather than winning ensures that you take away a lot for yourself, even if you don’t win.

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