We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to one of our Honorable mention winners for our "Rammed Earth Pavilion" competition – Devin Dobrowolski and Ben Small from United States!

Honorable mention from United States

DD_ I’m an architect and landscape architect by training. I’ve divided time between teaching, practice, and design research projects since graduating from my M.Arch in 2019.

BS_ I’m trained as an architect and come to the discipline from a background in environmental theory and studio art. Since completing my M.Arch I've worked as an educator at the University of Virginia teaching graduate and undergraduate design studios as well as a special topics seminar on environmental theory.

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?

BS_ My personal creative and academic practices consider the ways in which materials are mobilized for city-building, focusing more specifically on how the strategic use of new and old classes of materials - such as raw earth, timber, and other minimally processed material assemblies - might reorganize the current linear logic of material flows from extraction to waste, to a more circular use, re-use diagram.

DD_In addition to competitions, most of my work has been in design research, most often in collaboration with others, that has gone toward publications and/or exhibitions.

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

DD_Architecture mediates ideas between society and space. Like other expressive media, architecture has an important critical role in expressing, challenging, and testing ideas. We believe strongly that architects do not solve problems primarily—this may indeed be a positive outcome of the work that we do, especially if we are inclined to act ethically—but it is not the objective. Rather, we are trained to understand the built environment, and with this knowledge we project possible alternatives to what exists at any given moment in time.

BS_ To me, architecture is the intelligent and culturally expressive organization of space in support of relationships between people, and between people and their environments. These might be buildings, landscapes, or other spatial proposals. In my mind, the role of the architect is to critically evaluate these relationships, and mobilize materials in service of them.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

DD_ I have generally participated in competitions as a way to generate research into specific topics related to materials, construction methods, program, and conditions of the built environment. I’ve worked alone on competitions in the past, and these have helped me to develop a set of clear design methodologies. I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to work on some with colleagues with interesting ideas and practices of their own—such as the case this time with Ben.

BS_ This is my first architecture competition. I was eager to participate for all of the reasons Devin mentioned above, and especially for the way in which the competition provided an objective to point my ongoing research into materials towards.

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

Competitions are just one of many ways to nurture a design practice, but they can be important platforms for experimentation and critique within the discipline. Gaining recognition for one’s work through the competition can be a nice incentive, but the value of the process lies more in developing a critical voice that’s in dialogue with contemporary ideas and with one’s peers.

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