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Architects rise to Olympic challenge

The winning entry fused high tech steel design with multimedia

The theme of the 2012 Olympics was also adopted as the brief of this year’s Corus Undergraduate Architect Awards.

Entrants to the prestigious pan-European undergraduates architecture competition were asked to design a culturally adaptive space to suit an urban site in one of what were then the potential Olympic host cities — London, Paris, New York, Moscow or Madrid.

The winning team, Blanca Pedrosa Santamaría and Ignacio Nieto de la Cal from the Architecture Polytechnic University in Madrid, beat off strong competition to scoop the top prize of £2.500. Their design, a fusion of high-tech steel designs and functional space, incorporated a simulation canopy, multimedia lighthouse and ‘telematic’ café that promised to turn a whole city into an interactive venue for watching the athletes.

The competition is designed to give architecture  students a creative vehicle for learning about the use of steel in buildings, and to showcase the future talent of the industry. Both the architectural and the engineering undergraduate awards form part of Corus’s wider strategy within the education sector, which is designed to bring the industry and its future employees closer together.

Blanca Pedrosa Santamaría and Ignacio Nieto de la Cal from the Architecture Polytechnic University in Madrid

Now in its 17th year, the Corus Undergraduate Architect Awards is the longest established competition of its type. It provides a creative stage for discovering more about the use of steel in 21st century buildings and aims to encourage new ways of looking at steel as a construction material.

Richard Dixon, Corus’s Construction Support Manager, said: “The prize-winning design was both creative and functional, encapsulating the themes of celebration and congregation, which are characteristic of such a world-class event. The winners have shown an understanding of the qualities of steel in the context of a complex brief in what was clearly a high quality set of entries. The awards have become synonymous with high quality, forward-thinking designs. It demonstrates the wealth of talent that is coming through into the industry.”

Second place was awarded to the Scottish-Irish-German team Finn Williams, Andrew Griffin and Julius Kranefuss, who met while working in Holland. This design focused around event sites connected by light beams, and also won them the British Constructional Steelwork Association’s prize.

The judging panel included Bryan Avery of Avery Associates, Yasmin Shariff of Dennis Sharp Associates, David Bonnett of David Bonnett Associates, Paul Finch of Architects Journal, Chris Nash of Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners, Terry Raggett of Arup Associates, Dr Olga Popovic Larssen of the University of Sheffield, and Matthew Teague of Corus Construction Centre.

Summing up both the architectural and engineering awards, Mr Dixon said: “Forging links between ourselves and the education sector is critical to the industry’s future. Recent figures show that by 2010 more than 430,000 employees will be required by the construction industry to keep pace with Britain’s spiralling demands. These awards are part of Corus’s portfolio of initiatives to attract quality undergraduates and encourage the assured first steps to a promising career.”

Corus Undergraduate Architect Awards

Winners: Ignacio Nieto and Blanca Pedrosa

Second place and winners of the BCSA prize: Andrew Griffin, Finn Williams and Julius Kranefuss

Commendations: Oscar Pardilla, Isabel Fernandez and Alfredo Cadenas-Santiago

The Corus Undergraduate Architect Award is supported by the Steel Construction Institute, the British Constructional Steelwork Association, and Architects Journal. The competition is approved by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

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