LAKA Competition 2016: Winners Announcement

Results of the Laka Competition 2016.
Architecture that Reacts.


The Laka Competition has just announced the Winners and Honoured Mentions of its 2016 successful 2nd Edition.  Laka Competition “Architecture that Reacts!” is an international architectural competition which seeks innovative ideas of the new architecture: socially engaged, capable of reacting to unpredictable conditions (environmental, natural, social) and providing safety for its occupants. Achieving such a goal requires an interdisciplinary approach that goes far beyond typical building solutions. Laka Competition aim is to promote the best architectural designs that underline a powerful impact that architecture has on social issues.

This year, their Second Edition attracted more competition, with 250 Participants from 40 countries who submitted 127 designs. The Jury selected three prize winners and 10 honorable mentions.

Keep reading to know the 3 Main Prizes and the Honorable Mention for an African Project, ¨Socially Active Ecosystems¨, by ASA Studio – Active Social Architecture from RWANDA.



1st Prize, the ¨Snapping Facade¨, by Jin Young Song (Architect and Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, University at Buffalo, State University of New York)
Jongmin Shim (Assistant Professor, Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, University at Buffalo, State University of New York). USA

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Image Courtesy of Laka Competition

Snapping Facade explores a sustainable building envelope design strategy that utilizes elastic instability to create dynamic motion at the building envelope.

The building envelope controls heat gain and loss, allows views for visual comfort, and provides natural light. Advances in the high performance glass industry have made the use of glass ubiquitous. The reflection and refraction of glass represents the dynamic, bustling activities of our cities while diverse lifestyles and programmatic functions are expressed through the façade of our buildings. However, in the United States, buildings account for 41% of energy use and 38% of CO2 emissions. The increasing need for high performance building envelope and advancements in manufacturing industries have facilitated the design of dynamic envelope system to replace traditional, uninspiring shading controls. Built dynamic façade systems such as Abu-Dhabi Investment Council Headquarters by AHR Architects, dynamic roof shading at Aldar Central Market by Foster + Partners, Hoberman Associates and Adaptive Building Initiative and Kiefer Technic Showroom by Giselbrecht+Partner are based on mechanical actuators which need additional energy consumption to operate and require complex maintenance.

Advances in material science and engineering have also contributed to the mission of smarter building envelope. For instance, electrochromic glass uses voltage to change light transmission property. Other Smart glass such as Suspended Particle Devices can provide the similar function and form-changing polymer sheet can be installed in the glazing units. Compared to the mechanical dynamic shading, these glass systems can efficiently provide substantial energy saving with low cost, however the façade design becomes independent gears added to the irrelevant building design.

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Image Courtesy of Laka Competition

Snapping Facade suggests an alternative approach for the design of dynamic facade systems that use a “snapping-induced motion” to open and close apertures, providing shading for the building. The prototype explores using weakening-induced bands tied within the elastic threshold which, produce “snap” deformation with minimal stimulus. Traditionally, unstable movement within the building construction is considered as an undesirable occurrence but, the Snapping Facade aims to harness the characteristics of elastic instability by applying it as an opening and closing mechanism using the embedded energy within the materials. Without complicated maintenance, users can participate in the dynamic movement of the building envelope for play, fun, and energy saving.

This elastic instability is already utilized in kids’ products such as Rubber ball poppers and Snap Bracelets. Foldable car window shades also use the property of snapping. As for building, the snapping bands will be explored with patterned metals, plastics, and/or wood veneers. The engineering of intentionally applied weakening building components will be also tested. The membrane between the bands need be tested through metal origami, fabric, and other hybrid methods to find optimal folding mechanism.


2nd Prize, the ¨Suburban Swell¨, by Ryan Clement, Eric Dell’Orco, (University of Colorado Boulder). USA

Laka Competition- 2nd-prize

Suburbia is the expired perception of the American dream; it is shaped by the desire for land, green space, privacy, and safety. Whereas, the metropolis is shaped by economics, business, culture, and the exchange of ideas. These different environments create separate lifestyles that seldom overlap. Dense urban centers are naturally more sustainable than a low density suburb as they consume less energy, are less dependent on automobiles, have greater access to economic opportunities, and have more cultural amenities. With future population growth, communities must respond to the increasing housing demand. In the United States, metropolitan growth does not increase density, it increases sprawl. Why does the U.S. expand through sprawl? Land ownership, privacy, and refuge are the driving cultural values that encourage sprawl and contribute to the “American” fear of density. The fear that giving up land ownership takes away one’s independence, individuality, and control. Contemporary forms of density do not acknowledge these ingrained cultural values. Failing to recognize these values will lead to indefinite sprawl.

Suburban Swell reacts to fears of density by using the lifestyle of the suburbs as a framework for a new vertical morphology of density that embraces light, community, land ownership, individuality, and the American dream. Suburban Swell is based on the form of the cul-de-sac, an urban form that is ubiquitous in American suburbs.

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Image Courtesy of Laka Competition

Suburban Swell is a structure designed to be built above any cul-de-sac; it vertically extends the cul-de-sac, transforming any given neighborhood into a denser and more urban version of itself. As such, removing the necessity of the automobile, and encouraging the use of alternate modes of transportation. The intimacy, community, and green-space found in a cul-de-sac is preserved, while the density is increased.

Suburban Swell does not provide a finished living space; instead, it provides a base for a vertical neighborhood. There are unbuilt plots of land, where each person can build to suit their needs and preferences. With this land ownership, the ideas of the American dream are not lost but rather embraced. There is still a backyard, there is still a place for the children to play, there is still the single family home. If architecture integrates density and the American dream, density is no longer scary. If density becomes desirable suburban sprawl can be eliminated.


3rd Prize, the ¨Urban Oasis, Synergetic, living prototypes¨, by Markus Jeschaunig (Artist, Architect / Agency in the Biosphere). AUSTRIA

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Image Courtesy of Laka Competition

Statistically, the banana is the most popular tropical fruit in several European countries and available in supermarkets all year round. Getting to enjoy bananas and other tropical fruit in Europe requires a high level of energy and global logistics. Harvested while still green, the fruit is shipped from exporting countries with a subtropical climate (mostly latin America) to Europe. This way of consumption stands for the current ecological foot-print – requiring 1.5 Earths to meet the demands humanity makes on nature.

To enter in global action against climate change, (local) built environment has to access synergetic natural systems. Material flows will have to run from ‘cradle to cradle’ and biotic and non-biotic systems must be united. ’Synergetic urbanism’ is an answer on the challenges of climate change. Inspired by the dynamics and forces of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere, synergetic urbanism activates local resource- and material flows in order to create zero-emission products, cities and life. Synergetic space strategies utilize harvested energy rather than supplied high-quality energy.

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Image Courtesy of Laka Competition

Reacting prototypes
The concept of “urban oasis” intents to harvest, accumulate and transform energy streams and potentials in the urban field into synergetic cycles. Focusing on waste-heat places in the city (such as the office-, industry- and food sector), automated + social installations in different scales try to develop solutions, how food production or other needs, can be created.

The installation Oasis No. 8 (2015/16) can be seen as a prototype for using local available energy sources for the production of food in urban settlements. The project is situated in a vacant lot in the city center of Graz, Austria. The tropical micro-climate inside the bubble is powered only by the waste heat of two existing refrigeration units from a restaurant and a bakery under and behind the installation. The small, artificial and parasitic habitat takes rainwater from the roofs and sunlight from the sky to grow banana, pineapple and papaya plants. Within this intervention, the automated system is self-sustaining and keeps the interior temperature over 12° degrees Celsius – the minimum temperature required by tropical plants of this kind – during the freezing winter months. By remote control, the group of volunteers (bananahood), can observe and change parameters of the technical components.
The artificiality of Oasis No. 8’s nature is emphasized by the transfer of tropical plants from a tropical climate zone into a non-tropical region through the creation of a closed micro-climatic habitat. Bringing real plants to a place where they could not exist naturally, creates awareness. Local action to apply scientific knowledge about strategies to fight climate change.

September 2015 till end of 2016


Honorable Mention, ¨Socially Active Ecosystems¨, by ASA Studio – Active Social Architecture (Alice Tasca (Partner Architect), Francesco Stassi (Partner Architect), Zeno Riondato (Partner Architect), Jaime Velasco Perez (Architect)), and Christian Karagire (Architect). RWANDA

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Image Courtesy of Laka Competition

Socially Active Ecosystems
How to enable a sustainable socio-economic development for rural Rwanda?

Rwanda is considered an example of accelerated modernization. Key element of this fast process is how to combine the physical planning strategy with the vision of society. Envisioning “a long-term bright future of Rwanda” the Government launched the ECD Policy in 2010 “to combat ignorance and illiteracy and to provide human resources useful for the socio-economic development through the education system.” Children, who are well nurtured and cared for in their earliest years, are more likely to achieve their full potential as adults. Currently just over 12% of children between 3 and 6 have access to learning services: to meet the MDG targets of 100% enrollment by 2017, public education facilities should be implemented in rural areas. As poverty, education levels, and performance as an adult are directly linked, the provision of public education facilities is essential to raise the GDP of Rwanda.

The ECD Centers are collective and interdisciplinary projects addressing the interface between ecosystem and socioeconomic environment at both community and national levels: they react to the physical and cultural landscape and conceive child stimulation as something that concerns the entire community. Architecture, at any scale and in every location, impacts its environment: even small projects act in the formation of the roots of society and appear as the paradigm of participatory design and an interdisciplinary approach to catalyze a social change.

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Image Courtesy of Laka Competition

The ECD centers integrate different programmatic components (stimulation rooms, multipurpose hall, kitchen, administration, water and sanitation facilities, playground, and kitchen garden) at various scales: territorial, settlement and building. The main pillars of the design are the role of a central space as catalyst for community gathering, and the modular structure, where components can adapt to different terrains originating similar facilities. Two main typologies have been tested with either a circular or a S-shaped plan. The modules are single story structures, built with locally produced fired bricks, whose patterns and multiple openings contribute to the sensorial stimulation of children, while providing natural lighting and cross ventilation. The porch connects all modules, there is a dedicated area for playground, and a system for rainwater harvesting. The kitchen garden is used to promote innovative agricultural and nutritional techniques. Solid waste, processed in the composting toilets, is used as fertilizer.

The Centers react to their surroundings as means to address the interface between the natural and socioeconomic environment at community level. They promote cross-pedagogical activities and serve as community space for social activities that give the ownership of the space, making it socially sustainable and environmentally efficient. The design strategies foster children and their community to increase family-family and family-community cohesion. Moreover the use of local materials and builders both empowers the community and promotes social equity. The community develops construction skills later adopted to enhance private houses and access more job opportunities: last step in the virtuous cycle to enable the sustainable socio-economic development of Rwanda.

Laka Competition 2016 International Panel of Judges:

  • Qun Dang (Architect, Principal Partner at MAD Architects)
  • Ana María Gutiérrez (Architect, Co-founder of Fundación Organizmo, Ashoka Fellow)
  • Peter Kuczia (IARP and BAK Architect, author of CO2 Saver House)
  • Julien De Smedt (Architect, Founder of JDS Architects)
  • Arturo Vittori (Architect, Co-founder of Warka Water NGO, Director of A&V)
  • Nathalie de Vries (Architect, Urban Planner, Co-founder of MVRDV)
  • Tobias Wallisser (Architect, Co-Founder of LAVA Laboratory For Visionary Architecture)

For further information

For further information about the Competition in Apsaidal, check out the post LAKA Competition 2016.

For further information about the Competition in their website, please chek it out. 

For further information about the Winners of the Prize and the Honorable Mentions, please check them out the Winner´s announcement in the Competition´s website.

If you want to know more about the authors of the Honorable Mention, ¨Socially Active Ecosystems¨, visit the ASA Studio website.



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