SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Move over Frank Gehry, there are new sultans of structure in town.
A Southwestern College Architecture Club design team won the Best-in-Show and the Best Theme Interpretation awards at the 2015 Design Village Competition held at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo held April 17-19.
Two Southwestern College teams – team Helios and team Uhrwerk – travelled 323 miles to compete in Design Village.
The Helios structure was a wooden six-pointed polyhedron. The sun shined through three of the structure’s triangular faces at different points of the day – morning, afternoon and dusk – fulfilling the clockwork theme of the competition. The unique structure won both awards.
Helios team member Luis Montoya called their structure unique and said the finished product was worth the effort.
“(The structure is) organic,” Montoya said. “It has complex angles and it is massive, which makes it very attractive and it is something they (judges) have never seen before.”
Uhrwerk was a three-paneled cube on stilts. Panels would lift into the air by rotating a dial in the center of the structure that corresponded to the face of a clock.
During Saturday’s portion of the competition, several onlookers said they would love to have team Uhrwerk’s structure on their house decks or in their backyards. Some even asked if it was for sale.
“Oh my gosh! It’s so cool!” a young woman exclaimed as she ran by the structure.
Team member Ivan Murillo said the team’s intent was to build a structure that was “simple, functional (and) chillable.”
Team member Efrain Camacho said they wanted their structure to feel like a clock.
“We were trying to keep it simple and build a mechanism that reflected the theme by emphasizing movement and precision,” he said.
Sleeping arrangements, however, may have been a little too cozy, Camacho joked.
“I can say that we were pretty warm.”
On day one, teams were required to carry all building materials up a nearly mile-long dirt trail and a large hill to the design village area, a canyon on the northeastern side of the college.
Much like the California gold rush, quickly staking a claim on the hillside was of vital importance, Camacho said. Camacho was the first person on the hillside, securing both Southwestern teams prime positions.
“You have to bring everything over (by hand),” he said. “(So) we ran over here to get the spot.”
Construction of both structures went well into the night. Team Helios’ structure, which took both prizes, was finished at 11:30 p.m., 14 hours after they began their ascent to the canyon.
Instructor Diana De La Torre and retired Professor Corey Breininger co-advise the club.
De La Torre said the club began with many ideas of what to bring to the competition, but ultimately Helios and Uhrwerk were chosen.
Breininger said it was great how well both teams worked together even though they were technically competing against each other. Both structures took unique perspectives on the theme, he said.
“They are both tackling the concept very differently and I think they have great chances up there,” he said. “The way that they are expressing their geometry and the way that they interpreted clockwork and how their structures are going to be able to tell time is very interesting. I’m very proud of the work they’ve done.”
Even after the win, team Helios remained humble.
“It’s like music or a piece of art, you just appreciate it. You try to understand it,” Montoya said. “You aren’t very concerned about how many hours the artist put into the painting you aren’t concerned about how many hours the singer/songwriter put into writing the song. You got to enjoy it and I’m happy they (the judges) enjoyed our structure.”
Yvette Ramos and Daniela Maureen carry framework for team Helio’s structure on to Poly Canyon.
Team Uhrwerk (l) and team Helios’ structures sit at the base of a Poly Canyon hill near the end of a nearly mile-long pathway competitors carried building materials up the day before.
Luis Montoya drills screws into Team Helios’ structure.
Team Helios’ structure.
Team Helios sits in the entrance of their structure.
Group shots of Southwestern College Architecture Club members, advisors and two Southwestern College Sun newspaper staff members who accompanied the club on their trip.