A bit of good news I heard this week was that one of the groups of first year architecture students at UWTSD that I worked with on entries for the Home of 2030 Young Person’s Design Challenge have been shortlisted for the next stage of the project! This is an incredible achievement for the group as, being a high profile, National Design Competition, they were up against some stiff opposition. The winning team – Aneurin James, Steffan Phillips, Hollie Parsons and Blaine Smith – called their scheme “Fl-Hex”, reflecting the adaptable, hexagonal forms that they combined to create communities of climate responsive dwellings. Feedback from the judging panel was that both the standard and volume of entries was extremely high, so they should be very proud of their efforts.
The students will now be invited to a grand final showcase to be held hopefully later this year, where they will have a chance to present their scheme to innovators within the industry, including George Clarke and Mark Farmer.
This is not only a great achievement for the students, but also for the relatively newly established School of Architecture in Swansea; and reflects the high standard of teaching and mentoring the students received from their tutor, Ian Standen, himself an experienced, hugely talented and passionate Architect.
All four groups of students submitted imaginative designs, all responding to climate change, and incorporating renewable energy generation as well as responding to the current climate issue of flooding which, at the time of the project (January to March 2020), was very much dominating the news. As first year students, just starting out on their architecture journey, it was impressive to see the creativity they showed in developing their climate responsive schemes.
I have seen some criticism of the Home of 2030 competition recently, with some claiming it favours technology solutions to reduce operational carbon, rather than adopting a whole building and embodied carbon approach. People have also accused the government of setting up this competition rather than dealing with the real issues of procurement and regulations that need to change to truly embrace the zero-carbon agenda. I think this is criticism is unnecessary. While I agree, there are definitely issues with procurement and regulations that need to be addressed, and will take time to get right, I don’t see the harm in opening people’s minds to seek or develop new solutions to tackle the carbon and energy problems we face now. What the competition does very well is raise the importance of climate change and encourages designers (both practising and students) to elevate it in their own agendas.
Congratulations to the team from UWTSD School of Architecture!