We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the 2nd prize winners of our "Tokyo Urban Meditation Cabins" competition – Koh Noguchi, Javier Ares and Juan Pablo Lopez Isabella from United Kingdom!

2nd prize winners from United Kingdom

Our team comprises three members with different nationalities and backgrounds: Koh Noguchi (Tokyo), Javier Ares (Barcelona), and Juan Pablo Lopez Isabella (Montevideo).

Koh is currently studying the Diploma programme at the Architectural Association, Xavier is part of the master’s program at ETH Zurich, whilst Juan is currently working in Manuel Cervantes Studio (Mexico City). We all happened to meet during an internship at Kengo Kuma & Associates and became very close despite our very different upbringings.

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?

This was our first time collaborating. During the internship, we were put into separate teams. Nevertheless, we came together because we had a similar sensibility towards architecture.

Also, we had already experienced participating in competitions that resulted in strong outcomes. It was a common trait among our previous works that we envisioned an architecture that plays with our perceptions. The meditation cabin competition was perfect for us as we all met in Tokyo and could explore what is beyond architecture.

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

For us, we define architecture as an interaction between the living and the non-living. Therefore, an architect’s role in society is to provide this interaction. For example, a building on its own is just a pure edifice. However, when you put a person in place, a new dimension is introduced. So, an architect can design and play with the different elements to trigger our senses.

We like to think of empathetic architecture, as a sensitive structure that must be approached from personal experience, given that the act of experiencing or living architecture is capable of reconciling and mediating between realities and dreams, as well as situating ourselves in a space and specific place.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

We participate in architecture competitions to be able to test out our ideas and our will to create. Additionally, it provides us with a platform for not only exploration but also growth and put us in a critical condition. In academia, or even in practice, the brief and the learning outcomes are already set out prior. With architecture competitions, we can pick and choose what sort of briefs interests us. This can spark the creativity that we inherently possess and push it further.

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

Entering an architectural competition has been critical for our growth in the field of architecture. It may be stressful at times, but this has really helped us mature and become a lot more efficient. The lessons learnt could also be applied to both academia and practice. It can be intimidating at first. So, getting into a team may also be beneficial as it will allow the tasks to be shared and you will be able to have accountability among the members.

We also believe that communication is key when working in a team. We all lived in different locations with different time zones. We had to organise ourselves and have the discipline to ensure we discuss the project and continued moving forward. Without good chemistry between the team, we do not think this would be possible.

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