We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the 2nd prize and Student Award winners of our “San Francisco Affordable Housing Challenge” competition - Arseny Pekurovsky, Chon Fai Kuok, and Megan Gahlman from the United States!

Arseny Pekurovsky, Chon Fai Kuok, and Megan Gahlman from the United States

We are friends who crossed paths in our first drawing class in 2017. We are now in our last year of Undergraduate Architecture school at the University of Minnesota.

Arseny Pekurovsky is an architecture student, designer and illustrator. He has worked on residential and commercial projects in the United States and Ghana. He is a graduate of the Architectural Technology program at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College and is now an undergrad at the University of Minnesota School of Architecture. Arseny has an interest in the urban environment and the secret lives of cities. He is a connoisseur of weird architecture. He loves strange things.

Chon Fai Kuok, goes by Charlie, is an architecture student, artist, designer, might even be an iconoclast. Coming from Macau SAR to Minneapolis, he is on a quest to find out what is Architecture. He found the professional world of architecture to be a bit banal and lacking excitement. People consider architect as a profession that solves problems, and they stop imagining the potential. Instead, Charlie believes architecture should be about asking questions, like a child. Perhaps, playfulness is what Charlie is trying to find in architecture.

Megan is an architecture student and designer in Minneapolis, MN. She has a passion for researching and designing affordable, healthy, equitable, and sustainable housing by intervening within existing systems that build intangible barriers for architects and designers. She has worked on residential projects in the Midwest and currently works for a firm in Salt Lake City, UT, that focuses on sustainable and healthy living. In her free time, you can find Megan pouring beers at a local brewery, on the slopes, at the skatepark, or running on a trail.

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 company/ individuals have been involved?

As a collective group of architecture students, we have engaged in a variety of projects at various scales which are outside the scope of professional work.

Charlie is currently managing the construction of a keyhole garden for Freedom By Design, a non-profit student organization which helps communities with design/build projects.

Megan, as last year's Vice President for the American Institute of Architecture Students at the UMN, created opportunities for students to advocate for change in our education, profession and community. She also assisted a professor in designing and researching serious games related to climate change for children.

Arseny has participated in several AIA Search for Shelter charrettes, an annual design event which provides solutions to organizations which are involved in affordable housing.

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

Architecture. Architecture is. Architecture is love. Work. Passion. Armour. Art. Home. Skin. Body. A drawing. An idea. Canvas. Decoration. A box, a circle, a square. A rip. A tear. A gentle bend. A ray of light. A shadow. A millennium. A century. A second. Architecture is silent as flapping wings at night. Architecture is loud as a gunshot. It can cripple. It is a straitjacket. It is a weapon. It is a blooming flower. And among all things, architecture is a state of war.

Architects should push boundaries, challenge existing systems, take on the risk, and assume responsibility.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

We are restless architecture students who are on a quest to learn and we welcome the opportunity to use a platform that supports innovative ideas which influence the future. Competitions are carte blanche for dreams.

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

What would you do? What would you do if you had the opportunity to imagine another world? Do you have an urge to share your voice? Test the urge, test your voice. Architecture vision competitions are an opportunity to understand where you stand and what you are prepared to give.

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