We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to one of our Honorable mention winners for our "Office 2021 Design Challenge" competition – Yiling Shen and Yuchen Gao from Australia!

Honorable mention winners from Australia

We are two young designers undertaking the Master of Architecture at RMIT University while working in the architecture industry. Previously, Yiling has worked on the editorial team for ArchDaily, as well as interning with the Office of the Victorian Government Architect. Yuchen is a two times recipient of the Design Excellence Award at RMIT, as well as being shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Design Award and being involved in the Tallin Biennale. We also worked on the editorial team of Caliper Journal for the past two years, creating a platform for design dialogue among academics, students, and those working in the profession.

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 always been interested in the relationships between architecture and the public, exploring this in various ways through projects and competitions. In 2019, we were finalists for the Future Park International Design Competition, where we explored how burial places could be integrated with public space through a city-wide master plan. Currently, we are working together on a project for Melbourne Design Week 2022, called F*** Marry Kill (Melbourne Buildings Edition). This consists of a website which uses the familiar language of dating apps to create a more accessible and fun interface for people to engage with architecture, and a subsequent physical exhibition showcasing the findings and comments from the website.

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

For us, architecture is first and foremost about people. It is not simply a beautiful, static object, but the envelope in which life happens. By creating the physical framework in which people live their lives, it has the capacity to enhance or challenge existing ways of living. By having people-focused architecture, it puts the variety of human experiences at the forefront of the design process, inevitably creating design outcomes which speak to the plural narratives of people, rather than a singular gesture. For us, the role of the architect is to recognise the potential of existing and future spaces to delight, confront, and question. It is to always look to the future, at ways in which our spaces can better facilitate our work, living, and play.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

We participate in architecture competitions in order to test out ideas, and concretise the goals of our future practice. Architecture competitions allow freedom from real-life constraints such as regulatory and budget demands, while also setting up an ideas-led brief to create the basis for the testing ground.

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

We would advise people to read the competition brief and consider whether it excites you, whether it gets the gears in your braining turning, and think about what you could learn from entering the competition. A lot of competition briefs give you the opportunity to test out ideas in a way you don’t have the chance to in real-life projects or even university Design Studio classes.

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