Southwestern College takes home three awards from an esteemed architecture competition in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, “The Design Village.”
Southwestern College architecture students may have been the underdogs going into this year’s Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s “Design Village,” but that didn’t stop them from walking away with three of the competition’s top prizes.
Held each year in April, the Design Village brings together college and university teams to learn by doing and making something people can see, use and appreciate. This year’s Design Village theme was Synthesis, the combination of ideas to form a theory or system. SWC teams, inspired by armadillos, seashells, spiders and grasshoppers collaborated to bring home three awards after competing against 52 other college teams.
Southwestern College’s teams and many of the first-year students, won “Best Materiality,” “Best Creative Process” and “Most Habitable” at this year’s event.
For many students this competition was a first-time experience for them. They were put in an environment where they were taught teamwork, innovation in their work process and how to bring their ideas to life.
Each year, students rely on donations to turn their designs into reality. From coming up with a concept, to building it with their bare hands and presenting their hard work to judges and peer competitors, students gain real-world experience.
The structure that won Best Materiality, “Flier eh Six,” was one of the underdogs. It was designed by a team of six students who were inspired by an armadillo and an accordion to create their winning piece.
Judges said the design won best materiality because of how the team utilized their recycled materials, connected these materials to the land and how they thought out their design.
Their design was a lightweight, foldable, collapsible and sturdy structure that expands to hold up to six people on individual hammocks. To the eye of skeptics, the structure looked too flexible and lightweight to carry up to six full-grown individuals. “Flier eh Six” exceeded expectations, walked away with an award and received offers from investors to purchase their design.
Kenneth Sanchez, an SWC architecture student and “Flier eh Six” team member, was amazed by the support he received from SWC’s architecture department.
“They support us a lot with these opportunities,” Sanchez said. “I’ve learned a lot during my time here, but I had no idea that I would be getting so much in return. They opened the window to so many opportunities for me.”
The award of “Best Creative Process” went to the team of five SWC students who created “The Red Pavilion.” The award of the best creative process is awarded to the structure whose teams transforms their materials in the most unconventional and innovative way.
“The Red Pavilion’s” inspiration stemmed from the natural curves of seashells. The team of five created a beautiful, hollow, habitable, curvy and more complex version of a tunnel out of organically dyed vinyl and PVC pipe.
SWC’s architecture team of four created “Rollie Pollie Ollie,” which took the prize of most habitable due to the structure’s durability. The team of four’s idea was to create a structure that incorporated designs from a spiderweb, rollie pollie and grasshopper.
The structure was made of solid wood and rope. They created a structure with adjustable, grasshopper-like legs, with a circular spider-webbed bed on top and a rolling, collapsible top cover. It was projected that they would win best craftsmanship, but they won the most habitable award.
Southwestern College faculty and staff invested in the student teams by paying for hotels for the five teams, giving them guidance through countless hours of work and encouraging their students’ creativity to showcase their work during this competition.
Carlos Garcia, a second-year SWC architecture student and “Red Pavilion” team member, has been able to learn so much more than architecture during his time in the SWC architecture program.
“They taught me teamwork and how to initiate leadership by seeing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses so we can work as a better team,” Garcia said. “They support our ideas and still let it be ours while they teach us to grow and express them better.”