Designers compete at Algonquin
Design and construction students competed in a weekend long competition where the students were asked to produce innovative ideas for a home in Brockville, On.
BY ELLEN O’CONNOR
Students from various design and construction programs at Algonquin College put their skills and knowledge to the test during the intensive, weekend-long CMHC sustainable housing student design charette from March 23 to March 25.
The competition challenged the students to produce an innovative design concept for the renovation of a post-war, one-and-a-half storey home located in Brockville, Ont.
The 19 participants were strategically split into four teams with students from different programs in each, including electrical engineering technician, architectural technology, green architecture, interior design and advanced housing.
“They work in these multi-disciplinary teams so that they get used to working like that in the real world,” said Rick Briginshaw, co-ordinator of the green architecture program and co-organizer of the event. “When they are working on a design building project they have to [collaborate] with people with different design expertise.”
In less than 48 hours, the teams had to brainstorm, produce and effectively display a design that incorporated the concepts of affordability, accessibility, adaptability, curb appeal and energy-efficiency.
The model house is located within the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville in a neighbourhood with low to moderate income family housing. The United Counties, which partnered with Algonquin and the CMHC national housing agency on the charette with the support of the Ottawa Region Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council, identified the area as a possible regeneration project under their revitalization initiative.
With this in mind, the students were encouraged to aim for solutions that were affordable, easily implemented and demonstrated an effective use of materials.
“It could be very easy to take very exotic building techniques and technologies and implement them into a new renovation but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be affordable or an efficient use of our money,” said Ben Tolton, second-year advanced housing construction carpentry student from Perth campus.
Jesse Graham, third-year architectural technician student said that he believed the best route to go with was a design that emphasized durability.
“It’s been a little battle with the interior designers on that one because they want to build a very aesthetically pleasing building. I agree with that, but I also feel that we need to keep it very durable because it is rental, people are going to be going in and out,” said Graham.
On Saturday each team had a chance to discuss their plans with industry professionals to receive advice and constructive feedback. Alex Jennings, third-year architectural technician student said his team’s meeting with the advisors raised the issue of their plan to incorporate a garage into their design.
In the end, the team kept it simple and added a carport in the backyard instead and were awarded first place in the competition during the ceremony on Sunday. The winning team included members Alex Jennings, Michelle Bondarchuk, Erin Boa-Brown and Thomas Gill.
In attendance for the presentations and ceremony to represent the United Counties were Warden Mel Campbell, Mayor Ron Holman, Mayor Doug Struthers and Mayor Bill Thake, together with Mayor Dave Henderson of the City of Brockville as well as a panel of judges, each an industry professional with a background in the students’ programs.
“The winning team in this particular case stood out probably because they addressed each of the specific design criteria just a fraction tighter than the others and the one factor that really swung us was the affordability of that particular design,” said Mark Tritton, one of the judges and owner of The Lan-Arc Design/Build Group.
All participants said the benefit of the charette was working with students from other programs to collaborate on ideas in a positive learning environment and networking with the professionals.
“I would definitely recommend it. I have learned a lot through this in addition to school and I would rather do this than homework because it’s more hands-on and practical,” said Erin Boa-Brown, third-year interior design student.