We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the Student prize winner of our “Yoga House On A Cliff” competition – Jan Nicolas Zimmermann from Switzerland!

Jan Nicolas Zimmermann from Switzerland

After three years of studying architecture at the ETH in Zurich, I spent one semester in Barcelona as an exchange student to complete my bachelor’s degree. In these two culturally different places I gained some interesting insights into the world of architecture. In my first years studying architecture in Switzerland, I learned about all the various approaches of building design and construction. During my exchange semester in Spain, I gained some clarity about what I wish to achieve with my architecture career. Since then, I have tried to design in a way that is both environmentally and socially responsible and architecturally valuable.

During my internships at Gigon Guyer Architekten and Boltshauser Architekten, I was introduced to the practical side of the architectural profession. Without losing track of my personal ideals, I quickly became aware of how difficult it is to implement these things in the building practice of the real world. Nevertheless, I will take all the measures necessary to make architecture more sustainable for people and the environment.

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?

To build sustainably, I think it is important to look at all the different scales, from constructing details to city planning. It is crucial to learn about the various aspects of building construction and evaluate their impact on the environment. Only with this knowledge is it possible to guide building culture into a sustainable future.

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

Ever since from a young age, I have been fascinated by the potential of architecture to combine a variety of disciplines. Linking historical references with current building techniques, adapting the choice of materials and aesthetics to local influences, and addressing social, as well as political issues – this is something that only architecture can do. I want to use this versatility to respond to the problems of our time and create something that encourages people to think about concepts that are long overdue.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

This competition allowed me to apply the skills I acquired during my studies and the knowledge I gained from personal research to a real building task. It was highly instructive to design a building in the framework of structural, practical, and environmental boundaries.

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

In my opinion, competitions are a great opportunity to improve the personal skillset and to gain some insight into the workflow of an architect. Architects and designers can benefit from comparing projects with one another and recognizing both the differences and the similarities. Since there are many laws and restrictions in the professional world, competitions provide an excellent platform to try out one's own visions and ideas.

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