'There are writers who find comfort and inspiration to pursue their
activity in noisy cafes, smoky wine-bars, crowded trains, busy airport
lounges, in public urban spaces ... and there are writers who prefer the
isolation of a private room, the ascetic conditions of a monastic cell, or
the seclusion of a small cabin cut off from the rest of the world.'
The CAA Student Design Competition 2003 invites you to design a sustainable
retreat that addresses the needs of a reclusive writer.
Competitors are asked to design an autonomous, minimal dwelling for a
famous writer who wishes to escape the distractions of everyday life.
Entrants should choose a site from within their own region. There are no
restrictions - the site can be real or imaginary, located in an urban or
rural context - but the choice of site and the architectural response to it
will be among the criteria for judging the competition.
The writer wants a retreat within which he or she can work every day of the
year. Of considerable importance will be the ambience of the space created.
It should be designed in such a way that it will encourage creative writing
and reflect the character and needs of the user. Competitors are free to
choose any well-known author from the past or present, as their assumed
client. Preferably, the writer should be associated in some way with the
region in which the retreat is to be placed. The word 'writer' may be
interpreted widely [e.g. novelist, songwriter, playwright, composer,
scientific writer, newspaper columnist, etc]. The defining characteristics
are the act of writing and the need for a good place in which to write.
At first sight this project might seem rather esoteric but the judges will
be looking for imaginative and innovative responses to some universal human
needs. The building has to provide for basic comfort, safety and shelter,
in all seasons; to accommodate the necessary functions of living and
working [sleeping, eating, washing, writing, etc] and to sustain these
activities in an uplifting manner. The occupant wishes to work in an
environment that is tactile, supportive, and therapeutic. One strong
requirement from your client is to provide 'a room with a view'. Writers
are notorious for allowing distractions to prevent them writing. How can
this retreat encourage writing, rather than discourage it?
This competition is about detail. Proposals should indicate the structure
of the building, its construction, materials, spatial quality, lighting,
fittings and furniture. The writer wishes to live in this structure for
reasonably long periods of time. It should be comfortable. It will have
running water and electricity [which can be mains supplied or
self-collected/generated, according to site situation and design ethos].
The total internal area should not exceed 40 sq metres. The structure can
be in a tree, underground, on stilts, within an existing building, on a
roof, on water.....let your imagination fly!
The locational dimension should be given emphasis. The design should
reflect in some way the culture, climate and context in which the building
is placed. Entrants should also consider ways in which the architectural
character of the proposal might be emblematic of the author's writing
and/or the author.
Above all, the design should demonstrate clear principles of sustainability
through the choice of materials, management of energy and waste, climate
modification, reusability, and so on. Where appropriate, designs may show
ways in which the building can be used as an energy
collector/generator/store and a water collector.
Whatever the design approach, entrants should be aware that your client
wants a building that requires minimal maintenance and one that is not
over-complicated to operate.
The competition is open to all students, who at the time of their
submission, are studying in a Commonwealth country. Individual and group
entries are acceptable. Entries from multi-disciplinary groups are welcome.
A bonus of £200 will be awarded to the best prize-winning,
multi-disciplinary group entry [ie a submission from a team comprising two
or more people from different disciplines that is placed first, second or
third]. All students are eligible for first, second and third prizes. An
additional £200 has been reserved for the best submission from a student
[or team of students] in the first or second year of academic study at the
time of the entry being made, where the entry has not been awarded one of
the principal prizes. Any prize awarded for a group submission will be
shared equally by members of the group.
Drawings should be on a maximum of two A1 [841mm x 594mm] sheets, sent
rolled or they may be mounted on two A1 lightweight boards. A brief,
written explanation saying something about the writer, and the context and
thinking behind the scheme, should be included on the sheet[s]. Photographs
[of the site, 3D model, etc] may be mounted or scanned onto the drawings.
No specific drawings or scales are prescribed, but the presentation must
convey the ideas underlying the design of the building, its overall forms
and spaces, its character and atmosphere. As the building is relatively
small, contestants are encouraged to show some of the detail of the
building in the context of its fabrication. The following aspects should be
the site and its context [built and natural]
construction [indicative], materials, textures and colours
the strategy for environmental sustainability
the surrounding landscape/external spaces
life and activities in and around the building including the writer's
workspace and the qualities of enclosed spaces showing furniture, fittings
Drawings should be suitable for photographic reproduction for the purpose
of publication. It is intended that the winning entries will be published
in The Architectural Review.
Any questions concerning the brief and arrangements for the competition
may, until 01 April 2003, be addressed to the CAA Secretariat, email:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions and answers will be published on the CAA
Website at: www.comarchitect.org.
Each entry must be accompanied by a registration form, endorsed by the
entrant's head of school/department. Additional copies of the registration
form and this brief are available from CAA Website or Secretariat
The name of the entrant or school should appear only on the registration
form and not on the drawing sheets. Registration forms should accompany the
entries, in a sealed envelope clearly marked 'CAA Design Competition 2003'.
For identification, entrants should devise a name and/or symbol and that
name and/or symbol should appear both on the drawing sheets and on the
Drawings with registration forms, must arrive in Bloemfontein by 08 August
2003, at the following postal address [or street address for international
CAA Design Competition 2003
Free State Institute of Architects [FSIA]
P O Box 12396,
Brandhof 9324, South Africa Street address
CAA Design Competition 2003
Free State Institute of Architects [FSIA]
Fichardt House, 40 Elizabeth Street,
Bloemfontein 9301, South Africa
The Jury will meet during August and the winners announced by 08 September
The copyright of a submission will remain with the competitors, but the CAA
reserves the right to keep entries for exhibition, and to publish them.
Entries will not be returned. Schools/authors are advised to keep copies of
drawings submitted for the competition.
The topic of this competition was inspired in part by a design project
written by Styliane Philippou and run at The Plymouth School of
Architecture, UK, during the academic year 2000-01. The quotation  is
taken from the introduction to the project handout ['Writer's Cabin on
Stilts', University of Plymouth September 2000] and is reproduced here with
the permission of the author.
Full Details http://www.comarchitect.org/studentcomp.asp