UCSI students win Shaftsbury Square national competition

PETALING JAYA: Students from UCSI’s School of Architecture and Built Environment (SABE) recently won the national Shaftsbury Square Facade Uplift Competition 2021.

Group Zeus consisting of Tan Li Ye, John Lau Yong Hao and Khoo Li Wen emerged as the winner while Team Eldian consisting of Law Jun Li, Abigail Joshua Wong Yan Lin and Guma Sylvester Makajil was the first runner-up. All students are from the Bachelor of Science (Hons) Architecture programme at UCSI, currently in their second year.

Established in 2012, Shaftsbury Square is in Cyberjaya and is a development with a blend of retail shops, offices and serviced apartments. The competition started on 1 April 2021 and ended on 25 May 2021 with a total of 37 entries received.

The objective of the competition was to redesign the façade of the overall development, coming up with creative ideas to fully transform the current space to a “cool and shady” concept.

“This competition was motivating, as participants put forward the designs that were a combination of creativity and practicality. It was just very exciting for me to see the views among students during this pandemic, as they take on these challenges,” said deputy dean of SABE, Assistant Professor Ar Chia Lin Lin.

“We like to look at the participation in architectural competitions as a light-hearted learning, where one develops research on individual practice. This is a great platform to reflect the learners’ personal design beyond controlled systems of education, and as this is an open competition, the learners’ age, gender or even expertise by profession are put aside.”

According to Chan Chiew Chuen, lecturer from SABE, the students took the initiative to form groups of three members by themselves before approaching him as an advisor.

“The students strategically grouped themselves according to their strengths and they have shown harmonious teamwork. They were able to brainstorm and share the workload to complete their designs within a shorter duration of time,” he said.

The process of winning the competition involved gathering information where students used their knowledge learnt in class to search for relevant information that would reinforce their design decisions.

They were able to understand the site conditions, from the daily routine of the existing shops, the bazaar that would take up the street, and even the suitable materials that would best complement the existing building. The more information they were able to gather, the clearer design became. The ability to gather information, analyse it, and apply their critical thoughts to present the optimum proposal are crucial lifelong learning skills that they would be able to obtain.

For the students, it was a great opportunity to apply the knowledge they learnt using this opportunity to compete with other designers. Participating in design competitions like this would add an additional line to their individual resume for future job applications.

Assistant Professor Ar Chia had this to say about SABE and its mission moving forward: “Let us play our part to broaden the horizons of our own and sometimes to provide a different perspective to the otherwise stereotyping world. It is definitely our responsibility as a designer towards the larger community to keep growing and giving.”