Wanted: designs for future of Sichuan

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 August, 2009, 12:00am

Global architectural firm Aedas has teamed up with the South China Morning Post's Homes for Hope project to launch a design competition for creative, sustainable, affordable and quake-resistant housing for Sichuan province.

The Greenville Design Competition 2009, which will accept online registration from tomorrow, is open to students in Hong Kong, Macau, the mainland and Taiwan.

Aedas chairman Keith Griffiths, who came up with the idea of a competition, said that as well as financial assistance, the company hoped to use its 'intellectual power' to help the quake-devastated province.

'This competition is actually the best thing we can do to use our design power to raise awareness at a professional level for Sichuan,' he said.

It also would provide budding architects with a good learning opportunity and a chance to obtain national recognition.

The competition has two categories based on planning criteria being implemented in Chengdu , the capital of Sichuan.

The first category is a design for low-density housing in rural areas of Sichuan. Each building, two to three storeys high, should be able to accommodate 100 households. Flat sizes should be between 90 square metres and 150 square metres.

The second category is for high-density housing in an urban area. The building, no higher than 35 metres, is required to house 150 families in flats that are 60 square metres to 90 square metres.

All entries should be designed to withstand quakes up to a magnitude of 8 on the Richter scale.

A quake-resistant building need not be massive and solid, Mr Griffiths said. 'You can either withstand earthquakes with mass and brutal strength, or you can just do it with clever techniques,' he said, adding that he was looking forward to seeing interesting and even wacky ideas from the students.

But it was important to bring local culture and a sense of community into the work. 'In a sense, a house never becomes a home unless you bring in culture, personality, community, etc,' he said.

Referring to the quake that devastated the province last year, the veteran architect said there were many lessons to be learned, especially for those in the housing sector.

'I think the current reconstruction in Sichuan is a huge test. It's not just a matter of rebuilding houses and infrastructure but a matter of planning, putting in place regulations and rebuilding communities.'

Aedas has been a major supporter of the SCMP Homes for Hope project. The firm has donated part of the proceeds from its book, Travels with Aedas, to the initiative, aimed at helping two Sichuan villages rebuild houses and infrastructure.

The design competition is sponsored by HSBC. Ten entries will be shortlisted for a public exhibition and the final three winners will be announced on November 21.

More information is available at http://homesforhope.scmp.com/Greenville.