From left, Richard Robinson, Jannah Dela Cruz, Janica Domingo, Chloe Bennie and Angus Lin, with Assistant Professor Hongtao Zhou. (Juncheng Shen photo)

A team of undergraduates in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Architecture won an award in the 2016 Tongji International Construction Festival’s 10th Feng Yu Zhu Cup Design and Construction Competition in Shanghai, China.

The UH project, “Grassroots House,” ranked number six in the first round of jury voting and ultimately received a third prize award in the final round. The entry was also named “most popular with children,” according to the Shanghai media.

The team members are undergraduate students Chloe Bennie, Jannah Dela Cruz, Janica Domingo, Angus Lin and Richard Robinson. Their instructor is Assistant Professor Hongtao Zhou.

The project was designed to use PVC cardboard’s one directional bending and semi-translucent property to create the largest panel-bending structure in the competition. The wall design took advantage of the horizontal “fiber” strength for bending, and the roof panels rotated their grain direction to a vertical position in order to form an internal dome and expressive grass roof to guide rain water downward.

Three individual spaces with varying floor heights formed a small neighborhood inside for users to connect and interact. The creativity of the expressive roof was also functional, as the project survived a heavy rain in Shanghai while about 85% of other schools’ projects collapsed during the downpour.

An international experience

Almost 60 teams and more than 500 architecture students and faculty from around the world were invited to compete in the four-day design and construction challenge in Shanghai. Other participating schools included McGill University (Canada), Bauhaus University (Germany), National School of Architecture of Versailles (France), Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Spain), Pusan National University (Korea), Graz University of Technology (Austria), and China’s top architecture schools, design schools and art schools.

This year marked the decade-long anniversary of the festival, with a theme of Micro Community. Students were asked to use a new material, polypropylene hollow sheet, and 300 PVC bolts to create an architectural pavilion of 8 square meters to provide creative living space considering creativity, spatial quality, durability and resistance to weather. They are asked to complete design, testing, prefabrication and onsite construction, and also to sleep inside of the pavilion overnight during Shanghai’s rainy season.

After four days and nights of intense design and fabrication workshops with their instructors, about 55 teams completed their projects on time in Tongji University Architecture Square.

Chloe Bennie prepares to welcome inquisitive children into the Grassroots House. (Jerry Yin photo)