We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to one of our Honorable mention winners for our "Rammed Earth Pavilion" competition – Rui Zhang and Yi Zhou from Canada!

Honorable mention from Canada

Both of our team members are current third-year Master of Architecture students at the University of Toronto.

Academically, Rui is currently working on his March thesis at the University of Toronto, which addresses the issue of hegemonic architectures and the ensuing countermeasures. Professionally, Rui is currently working at 3XN/GXN focusing on ethical urban renewal development strategies and the adaptation of sustainable building materials such as rammed earth and mass timber.

Yi Zhou holds a Bachelor of Fine art degree in interior design from the Pratt Institute. With her background in architecture, interior design, and art, she explores different fields and has developed a keen understanding of how sustainable materials can do an impactful practice. She is working on the March Thesis: A sustainable prototype for long-term soil management using reclaimed pallet wood.

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?

Academically, we focus on medium to large-scale projects with a strong emphasis on sustainability, resiliency and social responsibility. At the same time, as design partners, we are involved in projects of various scales; a recent project was our participation in a design proposal entry for the Oulu Museum in Oulu, Finland.

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

We believe that most of the architectures of our time--be they conceptual or tangible--have the responsibility and the capability to address and respond to crises. As a series of unfortunate events unfolded one after another in front of our eyes, a question grew more and more acute in our heads: “What can or should we do as a designer in response to these unprecedented crisis?” Undoubtedly, there was not any clear answer to this majestic question. Soon after the COVID outbreak, many social and environmental emergencies surfaced. Fortunately, in response to the aftermath of these horrifying events, more and more architects and designers began to address the ongoing crises, such as social inequality, housing affordability, and climate emergency, by utilizing architectural thinking and design. In these innovative designs, which prioritize our environment and communities, we saw hope and an answer to the question in our minds. Employing architectural thinking allows us to analyze, document, and understand many ongoing emergencies; more importantly, based on such understanding, we address these predicaments in the form of architectural solutions.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

To us, the limitless design possibilities always motivate us to participate in architecture competitions. As designers, we always seek to discover new design strategies and tackle new issues, yet given the certain limits at school or work, our architectural designs are often limited. Nonetheless, participating in architecture competitions emancipates us from all the impediments in which we get to focus on nothing else but design itself. More importantly, participating in architecture competitions offers opportunities to review other colleagues’ works from all over the world.


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

We want to encourage individuals who struggle to decide to participate in architecture competitions to join us and participate in these competitions. Whether individually or collectively, working in a competition allows you to gain meaningful experience and skills such as time management, concise writing, team working, project management, etc. Moreover, it is also a valuable opportunity to experience the environment of an architecture office if you are currently in school.

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