We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the Green and Student Award winners of our “Toronto Affordable Housing Challenge” competition – Bjarne Van Der Drift, Gerjan Agterhuis and Casper Bovy from Netherlands!

Bjarne Van Der Drift, Gerjan Agterhuis and Casper Bovy from Netherlands

We are three young enthusiasts from the Netherlands who started our academic careers back in 2015. The three of us met upon joining the bachelor (undergraduate) program Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences at the Delft University of Technology. Despite our different interests (dwelling, public building, urbanism, etc.), we all continued our studies on the Architecture master’s track. Therefore, we always remained in touch with each other throughout our time at university, often as sparring partners to challenge our architectural projects and learn from each other’s experiences. As graduate students, we were very sympathetic towards the idea of being able to accumulate our knowledge and skills in this competition entry to conclude our time as students.

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 all completed a variety of projects throughout our studies and work experiences in architecture practice, so there is no particular field in which we specialize as a team. We like to approach every project in a new and unique way since we are not bound to a core set of ideas or design principles. Through this analytical approach, we are able to push our own imagination and increase the number of fields in which we can find crossovers with architecture and other domains of spatial design.

This all-round approach taught us to think beyond site conditions, material conditions, and demographic conditions. We like to conduct an extensive analysis in order to spot the missing link and build our narrative. This made us come up with the idea of a more holistic concept of sustainability for our proposal. Sustainability is therefore not solely the result of designing for a low carbon footprint, but also used as an overarching model for enhancing the spatial qualities in the city, focusing on themes that transcend the scale of a building, such as livability, mobility, and equality.

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

The role of the architect is becoming increasingly ambiguous. While they used to be the expert craftsmen, the role is now more of a strategist leveraging between skills as a concept generator, artist, urban planner, and manager. We acknowledge that this flexibility is demanded from us by modern day society and its current spatial challenges, but simultaneously argue that the expert craftsman is not dead. We critically discuss modern trends and address the threats of tomorrow but are still dependent on our unique skills as architects to come up with creative solutions. Without this craftsman approach, finding solutions is best left to civil engineers who rely on exactitudes, yet struggle to address anything that does not fit within their existing perception and experience. Engineers may fail to spot new synergies, the ‘1+1=3 scenarios’, whereas solutions by the hand of a skilled architect address multiple issues at once and result in meaningful spatial design for everybody, even with limited resources.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

Entering an architecture competition is the ultimate way to get your unique design approach and concepts challenged by a broad range of professionals from the field of spatial design. It is vital to always reflect on your work, and for us there is no better way than to have a skilled jury review your ideas. Moreover, a competition trains you to communicate your architectural ideas as efficiently as possible, since there is a limited availability of space and time to make your plan come to life. Developing this essential skill is something that you can only do by practicing it again and again.

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

We believe that it is important to formulate your objectives. You can take part in a competition for many reasons, but it is good to consider what you hope to gain from it before registration. If you are looking to make the transition from being a student towards becoming a practicing architect, it is definitely a bonus to take part in a competition. If you will be working in a team, be prepared to have many meaningful discussions, which will not only help to reinforce the concept of your plan but will also further shape your ideas and perception on architecture.

Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Enter Architecture Competitions

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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