We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the 2nd and BB Green prize winners of our "Office 2021 Design Challenge" competition – Gareth Cotter and Maria Mera Vera from United Kingdom!

Maria Mera Vera and Gareth Cotter from United Kingdom

I began studying architecture in 2007 based on my love of art, drawing and Frank Lloyd Wright. I was overwhelmed to find that architecture isn’t just about materials and form but brings together so many disparate facets of life, from how we interact to our mental/physical health and wellbeing. During my academic career I began to discover how cartoons and stories can be used to think and engage with architecture, placing myself in other people’s shoes and exploring the architectural space.

From working on various types of projects in practices I was able to explore the connection between architecture and landscaping, exploring the potential of overlapping and blurring the boundaries of these two fields.

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?

Since leaving academia I have the opportunities to explore various architectural interests in my professional career culminating in a project, which I am leading - a large sweeping hotel and restaurant that meanders through its surrounding landscape. This creates a place is blurs the boundaries between landscape and architecture while being fully contextualised to the surrounding countryside.

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

Architecture provides a framework for social and personal engagement. The layout of a building can produce a hotchpotch of new unique experiences: creating a place for quiet contemplation to encouraging mixing of people from all backgrounds. It is the architect’s job to try and open up all these amazing new possibilities in their approach and design of a building.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

Architectural competitions can take you out of your comfort zone and present challenges, locations and opportunities you may never have encountered normally. In response you can develop new skills and ideas previously unconceivable. These are be invaluable for broadening your understanding of architecture and be further developed over time.

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

Even if you do not win a competition, you have still gained a great number of new ideas, skills and presentation techniques that you have tested and will be able further develop as your career progresses. You are always taking something new away and by engaging with fresh and often unusual challenges you are developing your design skills no matter what the result.

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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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