The 3rd Annual Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition had an amazing turnout this year. I was completely blown away, not only the amount of participation, but by the overall quality level of the entries. This year the Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition received 208 entries and every single continent was represented except Antarctica – but considering that Antarctica has a permanent population of zero, I don’t think it really counts.
The evening kicked off with the judges arriving at 6:00pm for a cocktail hour prior to beginning their duties as judges. Since I am the only person who actually knows everyone, this period is really about allowing the judges a chance to meet one another and build some camaraderie before settling down to the task at hand.
The judges for this round consisted of:
Andrew Hawkins – Architect & Owner of Hawkins Architecture, AIA Brazos President
Tracy Cutrona – Mother of two and aspiring general contractor
Ella and Carmen Cutrona – Playability Experts representing the “target demographic”
Barry Buford – Contractor & Owner at Buford|Hawthorne Custom Homes and builder of 6 of 7 playhouses I have designed of Dallas CASA
Stacey Lillis – Special Events Manager at Dallas CASA
I am not a judge during this process – I play host, explain the rules, and ask “more wine?” a lot. The evening is a lot of fun but the judging process is taken extremely seriously. From start to finish, the judging process takes about 4 hours of deliberation, polite arguing, and a lot of back-and-forth discussions on a wide array of considerations. Most of the discussions focus on two major aspects:
Constructibility – just what it sounds like – the judges talked about how the playhouse would be built and how the design might be impacted once a clever idea was built.
Playability – whether or not children would find a particular playhouse fun to play with/on. While it might seem like a good idea to create a playhouse that is completely flexible, all we had to was ask our “Playability” experts Ella and Carmen what they thought …and they delivered a verdict that was always clear and concise and they NEVER disagreed with one another. Having children on the judges panel is extraordinarily valuable and I would recommend to anyone considering entering a playhouse into this competition in the future that they ask a child to review their project.
Since I am the host, I feed everyone during the judging – but that doesn’t stop the deliberations from continuing. In the picture above, I am organizing the votes so far into piles as Ella Cutrona assists me.
This picture was taken towards the end of the meal when the final cuts were being made. As you can probably surmise, we are consulting with the playability experts trying to make some final decisions.
This image was too amusing to leave out – after organizing all the votes into their appropriate stacks and rows, Ella wanted to use her phone to take a panorama of the entries.
From the 208 entries received, the judges selected 20 playhouses to advance on to the final round of judging. Only 4 of the 208 playhouses received 5 votes, 7 received 4 votes, and just over 30 received 3 votes. Consensus between the judges was somewhat rare and it is possible that if your playhouse did not advance to the final round, a different collection of judges might have made a difference.
With that having been said, it is my great privilege to announce the 20 playhouses that were selected to advance to next weeks final round of judging. My heartfelt thanks go out to all that participated, and congratulations are in order to the following designers:
Designer: Zarina Ateig – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Bio: I’m a recent architecture and project management graduate from Toronto, who moved half way across the world looking for an awesome job. I found myself working for the world’s most awesome projects but unfortunately not on the creative side, and I think I’m going to lose my mind if I don’t start designing again!
Designer: Yungche Kuo – Fountain Valley, California, USA
Bio: I am an licensed architect with years of experience of residential planning and design. I enjoy playing badminton and collecting commercial aircraft scale models.
Designers: Varia Smirnova and Duncan White, New York, USA
Bio: [Varia] I will graduate with an MArch from the Rice School of Architecture at the end of the month. Currently living and working in New York City.
Designer: Thanh Tran, Montreal, Canada
Bio: Hi, my name is Thanh. I’m 23 years old. I come from Vietnam and I am currently living in Montreal, Canada. I’m studying Architectural Technology. I like to play video games, stargaze with my telescope and draw. That’s me.
Designer: Steve Jordan – Dallas, Texas, USA
Bio: Graphic Designer that often looks back and wishes I had majored in Landscape Architecture… I do a lot of meat smoking in the backyard…. My approach will be to design a playhouse that I would like to have in my own garden.
Designer: Sachin Gangadharan – Dehli, India
Bio: If you ask me who I am, the only thing what I can say about myself is, “a puny human being trying to make his every day life, dreaming about photography,art, architecture and a bit of chilling”.
Bio: Architectural designer/coffee snob working on completing my license (5 down, 2 to go)
Designer: Natalie Carran – Iowa, USA
Bio: I practice in a small service based firm and am looking to have a little fun designing this playhouse for cats….I mean children…children. I have both a cat and a child and love them both. However on passing my last ARE in March I have been given the gift to pick out another cat (not another child) to add to our family. I am currently interviewing applicants for this position. Charlie my little man is 1.75 years old and is in charge of making the final decision.
Designers: Michelle Smith Cowman and Fadilah Hamid – Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Bio: I’m entering this competition with my design partner, Fadilah Hamid. Both of us attended graduate school at the University of Calgary, studying architecture together. We’re passionate about art and design, both studying fine art at universities in Canada before heading off to architecture school. Michelle majored in sculpture, working with metal and Fadilah specialized in painting with a combination of multi-media and traditional painting methods. We both work together at a firm in Calgary and are very excited to be submitting to this awesome competition.
Designer: Marcus Medina – Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Bio: I am a currently a senior at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona. I love to play sports at any moment of the day and you will always find me hanging out with my friends doing something outdoorsy on the weekends. Not only that, but I also enjoy playing my fair share of video games with my friends in order to stay connected to them even when we are incapable of meeting in person.
Designer: Levente Skulteti – Brussels, Belgium
Bio: I am a 34 yo Hungarian architect and currently I live in Brussels. As I am between jobs for the moment I have some time and creative energies that I thought I’d put in something useful (=doing competitions) and that’s how I found this one… and as I like working on small scale things I thought I would give it a try!
Designers: Lauren Chan and Jiayi Zhang – Toronto, Canada
Bio: We are both from Toronto and we just finished our first year at Ryerson University. We’ve spent countless hours in the school’s computer lab working on studio projects and eating too much takeout. We figured this competition would be a fun way to practice what we learned at school and do something worthwhile with all this newfound free time we have. This summer, one of us (Jiayi) is working ahead in several courses and the other (Lauren) is currently working at Hatch, and we both hope to enter more competitions together.
Designers: Kristen Wiebe and Cathy Truong – Toronto, Canada
Bio: We are two students studying architecture at Ryerson University. Our hobbies are strictly architecture… and more architecture. Sleep, eat, CAD, repeat #architorture
Designer: Kasthuri Chakrapani – Chennai, India
Bio: I am an architecture student. I am very passionate about it and will someday leave my mark in the field.
Designer: Kania P. Anggriany – Bali, Indonesia
Bio: I’m a 25 years old woman – a full time wife and half time assistant of a talented young architect… which happens to be my husband. Together we join various regional and international competition to challenge our ideas about design. I like kids and I’d love to have fun with them… that’s what I saw in this competition
Designer: Jaskaran Hanspal – Waterloo, Canada
Bio: I’m a first year Architectural Science student at Ryerson University and extremely excited for my first competition ever.
Designer: Ian Gray – Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Bio: I am an aspiring entrepreneur currently enrolled at Brophy College Preparatory. I enjoy spending time in California at the beach, playing basketball, and reading.
Designer: Gaurav Sinha – New Dehli, India,
Bio: I’m an Architect working in New Delhi. I’m working in field of making sustainable building. I’m really passionate about architecture. It makes me feel really good to contribute my work for development and betterment of society.
Designer: Christina Willmann – Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Bio: I´m a trained architect. My sons Paul and Tim, 6 and 8 years old will consult this work. It will be their first architectural design commitment and a new family experience for us to design this playhouse together.
Designer: Alan Lau – London, UK
Bio: I am an architect from UK, 34 years old and setting up my own studio at the moment. I am keen on architecture that connects with people ’emotionally’ and it reflects on my design too.
So congratulations to the folks who are advancing on to the final round but my most heartfelt thanks go to everyone who participated in this years playhouse competition. The effort it takes to prepare these designs is substantial and everyone’s efforts help advance the overall designs that get submitted. I am truly grateful and I know that the kids who benefit from your efforts are grateful.
If you find that I have misspelled a name, left off a member of the submitting team – whatever – just send me an email and I will make the necessary changes to make things right.