We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce the 1st prize winners of our Casablanca Bombing Rooms competition: William Song Yuan from Australia, initiated by Rachel Hurst Senior Lecturer in Architecture, University of South Australia!

William Song Yuan: I am currently in my final year studying Masters of Architecture at University of South Australia. I am also working part-time at an architectural practice.

Rachel Hurst: After a background in private practice, I have been teaching final year studio, and allied practice based research courses at UniSA for over 10 years, developing the School’s commitment to real, global and socially relevant issues and projects.

WY: During my architectural studies, I’ve completed a series of studio projects and courses that has focused on different scales and typologies. From small-private houses to large-public museums, the most memorable project that I have worked on was part of a university group study tour to design and build bungalows for a small community in Vanuatu. It was a unique experience to be engaged with the project on site and be part of the community itself.

RH: The studio projects at UniSA are carefully tailored to develop in complexity across 5 years of study, and to be responsive to current settings, local and beyond. The Casblanca Bombing Rooms is smaller in scale than our usual final year schemes(which are often substantial urban projects), but because of its profound genesis, difficult site and poetic possibilities offered fascinating challenges for the students.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of the architecture?

WY: Studying architecture has been a big part of my life, and my perspective on architecture has constantly been changing. However, the view that has still remained with me is that architecture is limitless in possibilities. As such, the role of architects in my perspective is to be problem solvers, finding answers through the built environment.

RH: Architecture is to me a fundamentally compassionate and progressive endeavour that has the capacity to enrich the lives of ordinary people, from the smallest, fleeting moment to major pragmatics of equity, health and political stability. These are the ideas we try to instill in our students and in the tasks we set. The Casablanca competition had all those elements as potential parameters.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

WY: If the brief is good and inspires me, I get hooked. While reading the brief for this competition and looking at the site and context, I was excited about the possibilities and kept coming up with new ideas. Afterwards, it was an easy decision for me to participate. 

RH: Competitions offer a great way of benchmarking our School’s work against the international community. Our students respond well to the discipline of the competition forum and it extends their imagination to think about different, often exotic sites and cultures. Plus the problems are often intriguing, the briefs well set out and models for clarity and succinctness.

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

WY: If the brief excites you and you have time, why not? Competitions can be great opportunities to challenge yourself, test new ideas and take on projects you have never done before. The benefit of participating in vision competitions is the design freedom, it inspires you to take risks and go beyond the boundary. At best the knowledge you gain can be applied to your next project. At worst you lose a little sleep. 

RH: My advice to other architectural educators is to embrace these competitions as a good way of looking outside your own institution. Choose them carefully to align with whatever your curriculum prescribes and regard it as another way of collaborating with the architectural community.

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