We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the 1st prize winners of our "Modular Home Design Challenge 2021" competition – Gabriel Chivu, Laura Mazâlu, Stefan Mircea and Thomas Herrera from Romania! 

1st prize winners from Romania

1st prize winners from Romania

We are Laura Mazâlu, Gabriel Chivu, Ștefan Mircea and Thomas Herrera - a group of 4 friends that have graduated Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urban Planning in 2018, all of us having different backgrounds.

LM: I am a Bucharest-based architect enjoying the “perspective change” that results from alternating constantly large-scale projects and small-scale projects. Among my professional interests there are the long-term emergency accommodations which I imagine to be far from the well-known modular solutions, in terms of quality and meaningfulness of the generated space.

GC: I was born in Craiova, Romania. I grew up both in the city and with my grandparents in the countryside. It was the type of society that produced and repaired its goods. It was a respectful and sustainable way of treating resources if we are not taking into consideration the conditions of industrial production at that time. I could see a great range of both pros and cons of that way of living.

SM: I am a strong advocate of using our resources with responsibility. I believe that we must create products that can be reused and be recycled easily. Is our responsibility as designers / architects to make the most of our finite resources and put at the center of the design not only the consumer but also the environment and the future generations.

TH: I was born in France from a Mexican father and a Romanian mother. As soon as the communist regime fell in Romania, my parents moved back to the striving country. I grew up in the 90’s in the countryside with my grandparents. There were harsh times, I learned a lot about what we call sustainability nowadays – treating every resource with respect in a pragmatic manner, working along with the environment and learning from the region’s traditions and customs.

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?

LM: For the past three years I was involved in the design process of two UEFA stadiums in Romania, which I found very challenging. At the moment, I intend to focus on residential projects as it would lead to fulfill my desire to experiment as many architectural programs as possible.

GC: In recent years I have been involved in projects of different scales and different levels of detail, from concept to execution detail and site tracking. The desire to experiment made me participate in many competitions and study architecture in several areas. I intend to get more involved in projects that refer to maintaining the quality and value of the architectural building after - sustainable - industrial scaling. It is a point that I have been discussing for a long time with the friends I worked with in this contest.

SM: I chose to become a designer because all my life I was fascinated how architecture can become the biggest and most concrete scale of how we can truly express emotions without words. I believe architecture is a reflection of culture, tradition, feelings and life in a community. The architectural projects I participated in before entering project management were of different scales and levels of detail. I currently work as an architectural assistant for an international game developer.

TH: I remember fondly my first awarded project; it was an installation - “Urban Neon Forest” - that was built during the Bucharest Spotlight Festival in 2015 while I was still a student. I currently work as a retail architect / junior project manager involved in a strategic partnership between two large corporations.

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

We believe that the role of the architect is to improve the lives of people as well as their relationship to the environment.

Design is an important tool in order to use / create spaces that defines all interactions between living beings, generates context and allows us to take control of more abstract elements in order to put our skills and knowledge to the benefit of humanity.

Investigation is one of the main ways to challenge a status quo, redefining boundaries and to innovate. Imagine that the same society could be creating a greater variety of buildings and products; this time with sustainable and reusable materials … Wouldn’t that be a sight?

It is our responsibility as architects and designers to create a guideline for this vision.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

We view competitions as a means to challenge ourselves, our views, our ideas. One of the main goals is to develop trust as a team in pushing ourselves as far as possible in order to achieve our goals.

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

We encourage people passionate about architecture to participate in competitions, it is a great way to push your team’s limits. There is always a lot to be gained, creating a coherent approach to a certain subject in a limited time can be a real challenge (competitions, for us, are like a benchmark on an international scale).


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