Students take prizes by design
by Terri Ko
FISH ponds and the hi-tech spirit of the Bauhaus school of modern architecture may seem to have little in common.
But they have proved inspiring for two Hong Kong University Master of Architecture students who seized honours for Hong Kong by taking prizes in two renowned international design competitions.
Martin Lee Yue-kong emerged from 1,700 entries from 49 countries to capture the regional prize for Asia and Australasia in the AIA and Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) Research Council/ Otis Elevator International Student Design Competition.
Classmate Johnson Chan Chi-keong took second place out of about 1,200 students from Asia, Canada, Europe and the US in the Bauhaus Extension Competition organised by the AIA/ACSA Council on Architectural Research and the Du Pont Company Glass Division.
Returning from the recent London prize presentation, Mr Lee, 23, described his urban housing design as ''not so electrifying'', but he managed to impress well-known architects Charles Correa and Joan Goody with ''a sensitivity to culture''.
Mr Lee turned a site near the fast-developing Chinese fishing community of Ju Jiang on the Pearl River Delta into a housing complex of six-storey buildings standing over pockets of fish ponds, housing 1,000 residents and providing them with boat transport to the main canal and a link to a community centre.
''People feel good with what is familiar. Having grown up in congested public housing, my dream from childhood is to build comfortable housing for people,'' he said.
The grand prize in this competition went to a student team from China's Tianjin University. The republic of Georgia grabbed the Europe prize and the Americas prize went to Chile.
Mr Chan's sophisticated model of a three-storey all-glass architectural extension next to the original famous Bauhaus school in Weimar, demonstrated an understanding of the founding philosophy of Bauhaus: technology in architecture.
His model is flexibly open-plan with moving partitions on ground level and private study capsules, encouraging communication and personal development.
''My model may be a bit idealistic though,'' confessed 26-year-old Mr Chan, who thought he took second place to a Finland entry because jurors felt his design was costly and needed very advanced technology to build. Nevertheless, they rated it ''a tailor-made model for an architectural school''.
Both Mr Lee and Mr Chan were awarded US$2,500 (HK$19,300).