The design work of architecture students from the Fay Jones School rewarded in an international competition


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The creations “Social Parkway”, above, and “River Retail & Recreation”, below, won the first two prizes of the 2021-2022 International Competition presented by L’Art Urbain dans les Territoires. Both designs are made by teams of students from the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.

Two teams of students from the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design recently won the first two prizes in the 2021-2022 International Competition presented by L’Art Urbain dans les Territoires.

A finalist team, consisting of Cody Denton, Sarah Wood and Sabrina Rodriguez, won the General International Award for their design, “Social Parkway: Activating Riverside Social Life through Connections with Nature.” The other finalist team, made up of Beth Penrice, Lauren Miller and Taylor Deason, received the Architectural Quality Mention for their “River Retail & Recreation” design. All winners will be celebrated at an awards ceremony in Paris on May 5, and each team will receive cash prizes of €1,500 and €500, respectively.

These fifth-year architecture students created the design work while studying abroad at the U of A center in Rome in fall 2021.

“The success of our students in an international competition of this caliber further underscores the value of the Rome Center for the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design,” said John Folan, Professor and Head of the Department of Architecture. “We are the only architecture department in the United States that requires study abroad. A commitment invested in this experience for all students is facilitated by the strength of the faculty in Rome. There is a collective gratitude to Francesco Bedeschi, Andrew Kranis and all of Rome Center’s Faculty of Architecture who provide an extraordinary educational experience for our students. Students and faculty have been successful in this competition for several years. Sincere congratulations to these students for their success this year, and to the faculty of the Rome Center for their continued excellence in mentoring them to create work deserving of meritorious recognition.”

This international competition is open to multidisciplinary teams of students and teachers from all schools in the living environment (architecture, town planning, landscape, surveyors, geography, sociology, etc.). The theme of this year’s competition was “Urban regeneration of the outskirts of cities, towns and villages”.

Through their designs, each team is responsible for comparing the existing state and the projected state. This comparison takes the form of a graphic diagram illustrating a program of intentions intended to improve the environment and the living conditions of the inhabitants. This method makes it possible to assess the quality of the proposals and also stimulates a debate on the definition of urban art.

Andrew J. Kranis, LEED AP, FAAR, is a professor in the Faculty of Architecture at the U of A Rome Center. He mentored these students in the fall semester of 2021 and he presented this competition to U of A architecture students in 2012.

“This competition is a great way to begin the semester’s studio work with a broad analytical exercise that enables students to engage with historic urban development, preservation, mobility, and accessibility,” Kranis said. “The normative annual theme gives us important global issues to consider and a very polished graphic format, allowing our work to be judged against entries from 140 other participating countries.”

This student competition, launched in the early 1990s, stems from the seminar of a legendary French urban planner, Robert Auzelle. His pioneering work led to the creation of an annual state-sponsored roundtable for French urban planning professionals, followed by a call for proposals from graduate and undergraduate institutions around the world, which became the Concours International,” said Kranis.

The preliminary judgment is made by the professional committee in France. Then, once the finalists have been announced, it is up to teachers from all participating institutions to evaluate the 9 to 18 shortlisted projects on the basis of architectural quality, respect for the environment and quality of social life. Numbers are tallied, along with an anonymous “internet jury” survey, to determine the overall International Prize and winners in each of the three judging bases.

Kranis brought the competition to the attention of professors Francesco Bedeschi and Davide Vitali when he started teaching in the studio at the U of A center in Rome in 2012. They were very open to it and joined him in offering the possibility to compete for U of A. and Rome Center-affiliated students on several occasions.

The Rome Center has never failed to achieve at least runner-up status in all the years its students have entered the competition, Kranis said. This year is the first time that the students win cash prizes, in addition they won the first two prizes.

“I was proud of all the teams that worked on the urban design proposal in the studio last semester in Rome,” Kranis said. “I think it gave all of them a solid foundation for the building design or adaptive reuse projects they did in the second half of the course. It was up to the student teams to submit their entries for the competition – with translation into French, which we coordinated during their fall holidays – and the decision of many others to award them the prizes, so it is a credit to our winners for taking the initiative to compete and for having succeeded in convincing the international committee and the jurors with their projects.

The International Prize-winning design, also called “Social Parkway: Community Living Through Natural Connection”, addressed the intersection of the Aurelian Walls and the Tiber. Once a vital area for commerce, it has become a place of physical and social borders, with crumbling historic structures and green spaces obscured by mismanagement and seas of sidewalks.

The design team chose to reprogram the fringe of Trastevere, using nature as connective tissue for healthy social life. Their proposal creates a community that is more walkable, minimizing the role of the vehicle. Obstructing structures are removed to maximize park space and redefine the attitude of pre-existing boundaries. Existing assets are given new life, creating safe spaces for social interaction and community gathering in a post-pandemic world.

For the “River Retail & Recreation” project, the design team focused on Porta Portese, a now isolated area of ​​Rome that was once the heart of its maritime economy. Surface parking and rampant overgrowth have made this area unattractive and even unsafe, and the adjacent community has limited access to retail and leisure space and the Tiber River.

In their proposal, the design team focused on addressing neglected historical landmarks, derelict architecture and lack of green space. By removing derelict structures and replacing them with storefront structures appropriate for the commercial district, they revitalized the area into a more accessible and functional space. They also replaced inactive, impervious surfaces with more enriching landscapes to create an outdoor space where a variety of activities can take place – vital for a healthy lifestyle in a post-pandemic world.


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