The Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) announced the winners of the international student competition ’Visualising the Future of the City’ at a reception on the evening of 16 June 2015. The announcement coincided with the first day of the international summit ‘Designing City Resilience’ that the RIBA hosted in London in the year that the CAA celebrates its Golden Jubilee.
The topic of the competition was inspired by the work of the UK Government’s Foresight Future of Cities project and it attracted 33 entries from countries as far afield as Japan, Canada, South Africa, and Colombia, to name a few. The judging panel included CAA President Rukshan Widyalankara, RIBA President Stephen Hodder, and RIBA Vice President International Peter Oborn.
The top prize went to John Cook, from the University of Westminster, for his project ‘The Cambedoo Solar Estate’, a proposal for an alternative energy strategy and agricultural resource that addressed rising energy demands in South Africa’s growing cities. The landscape and buildings of the estate form a masterplan for a new economy of solar tourism within where agriculture, energy production and celestial movements become entwined and experienced as a new form of landscape and urban restructuring.
When asked how he felt about winning the competition, John Cook stated that “it was an absolute honour and surprise to be awarded the first prize, especially given the high standard of work submitted by all the entrants. I’d like to pass on my thanks to the RIBA and their judging panel, and my two tutors Lindsay Bremner and Roberto Bottazzi from the University of Westminster, who developed and guided me through the ambitious and challenging studio brief that inspired the project.”
The second prize went to Assia Stefanova, from Newcastle University, for ‘The Floating Square Mile, London’, whereas the third prize was jointly awarded to the entries ‘Resuscitating Dhaka’ (by Bin Sayeed Bakhti and Manal Anis of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology) and to ‘My Intelligent Efficient City’ (by Ryohei Fukuraha, Yuki Abe, Kuniatsu Ishihara, Hiroki Oshima, Kohei Osako, Shonnsuke Seki, Kana Morioka, Zhang Yandong of MIE University, Japan).
In their description of ‘Resuscitating Dhaka’, Bakhti and Anis explained that their entry “speaks of a time in the not too distant future where Bengalis, after witnessing self- destruction reach a saturation point, will turn around and, against all odds, survive. The city will, ultimately, experience a harmony between legalized slums and contemporary architecture; farm lands and urban areas; loops of flyovers, roads and restored water channels; globalization and age-old cultural norms.” They went on to add that “it was an honor and a privilege to have received the third prize in such a prestigious competition. We would like to have this opportunity to thank the esteemed jury panel and RIBA for recognizing our work; our tutor, from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Mahmudul Anwar Riyaad for guiding us through the entire process and helping us come up with the best way to demonstrate and explain our vision, our advisor Dr. Zebun Nasreen Ahmed and head of the Department of Architecture, Dr. Farida Nilufar.”
Describing the overall quality of entries, Rukshan Widyalankara said: “While all entries have been executed with relaxed, broad strokes, they are indeed impressive, generous, and are of very high quality. They provide excellent premises for the development of new functional concepts for cities needing resilience, and serve our intention excellently.”