We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to one of our Honorable mention winners for our "Memorial for Witches" competition – Gemma Annear and Paolo Kirsten from Belgium!

Honorable mention winners from Belgium

We are both originally from South Africa. After our architectural studies, during the COVID-19 pandemic we relocated to Belgium for Gemma to pursue a Masters in Human Settlements at KU Leuven. We are now both working in Flanders and are immersed in the challenge of experiencing and integrating ourselves into a completely different architectural heritage, language and context than the one that we were educated in.

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?

We have both had exposure to urban scale projects, social housing, cohousing and public projects in the professional realm but have also previously participated in ideas competitions in the academic environment.

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

The role of the architect is to use the tools of creative and critical thinking whilst bound by the physical constraints of reality to positively contribute to the built fabric of the place they work in. The architect makes manifest the ambitions and values of a society, curates experience of place and aims to produce a beautiful physical thing.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

The conceptual freedom offered when studying architecture stands in stark contrast to the pragmatism required in the professional practice of architecture. For this reason participating in competitions is important because it offers an opportunity for challenges to one’s creativity, an opportunity to play experiment and ultimately strengthen your design capacity as a young architect. We believe that it is important to participate in competitions as a working professional, because they keep you tethered to the importance of design and narrative so that as you grow, you understand how pragmatic reality and conceptual design come together to help make you a more powerful thinker and competent maker as an architect.

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

The architecture competition will only be as beneficial for you as you allow it to be. Use the constraints offered by the brief as the framework for experimentation or to hone a skill that’s needs improvement. The established premise laid out by the competition can help ease creative pressure and allow you to focus on a specific thing that you wanted to explore.

Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Enter Architecture Competitions

Curious about the value of architecture competitions? Discover the transformative power they can have on your career - from igniting creativity and turning designs into reality, to gaining international recognition.

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