News and Press releases

Students compete with professionals in design competition

By Nadia Arandjelovic
Source: The Royal Gazette

When interior design student Chakeya Ottley and high school student Jessica Tannock entered an architecture design competition, they didn’t think much would come out of it.

Up against some of the Island’s best architecture students the OBM International interns felt like they were out of their element. They spent hours researching and days trying out different design techniques through trial and error.

In the end they were selected as first prize winners in the Institute of Bermuda Architects (IBA) 2012 design competition’s student category. Ms Ottley, 24, is currently studying at the New York School of Interior Design; Miss Tannock is a 16-year-old Bermuda Institute student.
Ms Ottley said: “I was a bit shocked when I found out I had won because this was my first design competition ever and I was going up against architecture students and I am an interior design student, so I really didn’t expect to win anything.

“I just went in for the experience of designing and submitting my work.”
The IBA Design Competition attracted 21 participants who contributed overall to nine designs. Student and professional participants were asked to put their skills and imaginations to the test by redesigning a performing platform for Front Street.

The stage would have to be suitable for a variety of uses, including fashion shows, live bands and parades, and be wheelchair accessible as well.

Brandon Scott, the IBA student leader, said: “Every year we try to grow the topics so we tried to do something a little more monumental this year. I think the Front Street stage is a little more crucial to the landscape of the city than some of our design themes in the past.”

In recent years the IBA has challenged participants to build a lifeguard tower for John Smith’s Bay.
Mr Scott took home second place prize in the student category for his stage design, which featured a lower level storage space and dressing room for entertainers.

He said he was “very happy and satisfied” with his final piece, considering the limited time he had to put it together. “It was what I wanted to achieve. I gave it a lot of thought and I think the two days I had was enough to implement the presentation, but I was always thinking about the design.”

When it came to the professional category architect designer Lisamarie Masters, of Bothello Wood, took home first prize.

Her design sought to maintain the views of the harbour, while also utilising sustainable materials that sheltered people from the rain and allowed for natural light to spill through.

The 29-year-old said she entered the competition to challenge herself personally.

“When you are working for many clients, you are creating something that satisfies their needs, but there is a little room to be as innovative as you can, so this was a perfect opportunity to do that.

“It was a short time frame, so you have to come up with your idea fast. It’s a lot of work and in the meanwhile you are also working [full-time].”

Her colleagues also submitted a design; they were awarded third place in the professional category. Second prize went to firm Cooper Gardner and its architect intern Jonathan Castro.

Mr Castro and a team of four professionals had just over a week to put their design together. The intern said: “I am happy I placed at all. I am happy to be a part of the competition and very ecstatic that we came away with something.

“The level of competition was high because you have not only students but professionals to compete with, but the passion and talent pool of everyone who entered is amazing. That I came away with something was even more amazing.”

Judge Jessica Dill, a trainee architect with the Bermuda Government, said the quality of entries overall in this year’s competition was “just fantastic”.

“With the amount of time they were given it was just amazing what they came up with. It was surprising the quality of which came out of such a short time span. It was great to see what everyone did differently with the same site.”

An interesting element of the competition is that judges are not told who created the design beforehand.
“We just rated the board and design concepts and decided from there which were the best approaches,” Ms Dill said. “We didn’t know if we were judging a student or professional.”

Gavin Smith of Chewstick, Allison Outerbridge of the Chamber of Commerce, Richard Paynter from architect firm Conyers & Associates and landscape architect Sarah Vallis were also judges.
Ms Dill applauded IBA student leader Mr Scott for inviting some of the Island’s movers and shakers to the event. Governor George Fergusson, Mayor of Hamilton Graeme Outerbridge and former Premier John Swan were all in attendance at last week’s prize giving.

Ms Dill said it was great for the dignitaries to see what “the creative minds of Bermuda can create for this Government”. “Right now it’s a hypothetical design, but we are working towards the competition designs being implemented perhaps one day in the future.”

IBA president Ari Ming said the event gave local students and professionals a chance to shine.
“These types of competitions they allow for professionals and students to share ideas about bettering the Island socially and economically,” he said.

“If you notice the submissions are not marked, that is because we are holding the students at par with the professionals and seeing it for the idea instead of because it came from this firm.

“They are very strong submissions and for me it’s encouraging to see the level of student submissions being on par with the professionals. There are some great and varied ideas, some are tectonic, some are whimsical, but the level of submissions is at a very high calibre.”

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