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students holding their design pieces
(Photo credit: Karla Sierralta)

Building models made out of cardboard, chipboard and basswood sticks competed in the annual University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Architecture’s first-year student design competition, held in the courtyard of the architecture building in September. The event trains students to understand design excellence and criteria for good design.

First-year students displayed their models in an exhibit open to the entire school. UH Mānoa architecture students and faculty were invited to participate in the exhibit and cast their vote for exemplary models based on specific design criteria.

students viewing design pieces
(Photo credit: Karla Sierralta)

“Architecture competitions are very common in professional practice. Architects compete for private clients and public works through requests for proposals or through design competitions. In the design of built environments, students need to become aware of the importance of clearly communicating their ideas visually without verbal explanations, and the impact of craft, discipline and rigor in their work,” said Karla Sierralta, studio coordinator and associate professor in the School of Architecture.

This is the seventh annual ‘Spatial Explorations Design Competition.’ Over the years more than 500 students have participated since its first iteration in 2016, making more than 2,000 models.

The class ARCH 101 Design Fundamentals Studio I is taught by Sierralta, Vincent Au, Yuliya Bencheva, and Willa Trimble with teaching assistants Brandi Baligad, Bryson Tabaniag, Austin Torralba and Melissa Yoo. This semester, 109 students made more than 436 models, and 20 models were selected for jury deliberations. A jury of guest design critics and architects selected seven noteworthy projects. Three awards for the best set and four awards for the best model were given.

Competition winners

Best set:

  • First place – Caitlin Munar
  • Second place – Zane Steely
  • Third place – Olivia Akina

Best individual model:

  • Linear – Lena Li
  • Mass – Leylia Wurthner
  • Hybrid – Armando Alegria
  • Hybrid – Benjamin Vickland

Students draw architectural inspiration

“Despite its many challenges, I felt that the competition was invigorating,” said Caitlin Munar, first-year architecture student. “My favorite part was the galleries where we would walk around to view everyone’s projects. It was interesting to see what other students were doing and how they were able to execute it. A huge part in the designing of my models was the inspiration I found in other people’s work.”

This competition serves as a milestone near the midterm of the semester giving students an opportunity to stop, reflect, celebrate their work, evaluate opportunities, and revisit ideas as they prepare to continue the design process.

“I think that this studio pushes us to create interactions between shapes and space rather than just marking boring house models,” said Zane Steely, first-year architecture student. “By making the model less about logistics it frees up our creative side.”

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