Six talented students scooped first prize for their timberbased housing scheme design at the TRADA University Challenge 2020.

Kyle Crossley from Leeds Beckett University, Ryan Jessop from the University of Hertfordshire, Aslinn Aijian Zha from Cardiff University, Kai Yusaf Chelliah from the University of Bristol, Kat Cookes from the University of Gloucestershire and Aaron Shaw from Sheffield Hallam University overcame nine rival teams to win a cash prize and walk away winners.

The competition, which took place 17–19 February, saw 58 students from universities across the UK gather at Cardiff University and compete to design, cost and engineer the best low-carbon, energy and water efficient timber community housing in less than 48 hours.

A brief given by Wales & West Housing Association for a large rural site at Adams Drive, Narbeth, laid out real-life constraints for the students to address and design to. The brief, which included a combination of homes for social rent, low-cost home ownership and open market, required low or zero carbon buildings with a fabricfirst approach, sensitive placemaking and a hub around which a
community could be created.

Judge Rob Wheaton of Stride Treglown commented that competitors were tested by interpreting ‘a really challenging technical brief in such a short space of time’. He stressed the difficulties of both finding innovative ways of using timber and incorporating Passivhaus principles, all while meeting the client’s definitive requirements and working to the constraints of the site.

Each team consisted of student engineers, architects, architectural technologists, quantity surveyors and landscape architects, and received hands-on support from pioneering design professionals and industry members, including judges from Mikhail Riches, Cullinan Studio, Stride Treglown, Ramboll, BuroHappold, Entuitive, Gardiner & Theobald and PLAN:design.

All six teammates contributed their win to an excellent team dynamic in which the four disciplines harmonised towards a common vision, resulting in a finished design which emphasised community, green space, and minimalist design.

The 2020 competition could not take place without the kind support of major sponsors STEICO and Arnold Laver, sponsor Stora Enso, and supporters PEFC UK, Passivhaus Trust, WTTA and Wood for Good.


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