The 2023 winners of Design Village. Credit: Evelyn Neagoy | Courtesy

Cal Poly hosted the 48th annual Design Village competition from April 28-30. Each year, freshmen architecture students build shelters reflecting a given theme and sleep in their designs throughout the weekend. This year’s theme was biophilia, defined as the “innate human instinct to connect with nature and other living beings,” according to the event website.

This year’s winning group structure, called “Twisted,” was made to look like a DNA molecule to represent how DNA is at the center of all life. 

“Twisted” was designed by landscape architecture students Lindsey Kuehn, Jack Mura, Lynn Kataoka, Ailani Tran, Katie Allen, Evelyn Neagoy, Ruby Smith, Ellie Feistel and Arlo Hadley. 

Credit: Evelyn Neagoy | Courtesy

“We collaborated super well from the beginning,” Evelyn Neagoy said about her teammates. “It was just so awesome to work with all of them.”

Design Village has been an event that is wholly student run, serving as a pillar of independence and growth in the application of their knowledge to create full scale designs. 

Participation is mandatory for freshman architecture students for their grade, and voluntary for all other participants. Design Village student coordinator Corrinne Chan said that the competition this year included the entire College of Architecture and Environmental Design, as well as all others on campus in an attempt to increase participation.

At the beginning of April, students went down to the Poly Canyon Design Village — known by students and locals as “Architecture Graveyard” — to do a site evaluation. Each group then came up with three preliminary designs. They then shared their ideas with an architecture landscape design firm who helped them choose their final design. 

“As landscape architects, we were really excited to put in this year’s in because it kind of aligns with our major,” Neagoy said. “We just wanted to emphasize the use of natural and sustainable materials.” 

They chose to use bamboo because it is sustainable due to its rapid growth rate and ability to regenerate after harvest. Using bamboo also made it easier to transport. The design team chose a spiral design to represent change and growth. Something that set their group apart from other designs was the use of home grown chia for their structure in order to give their design a landscape touch. 

“I think this is what really set our project apart; we were some of the only students that had plants involved in our project,” Neagoy said. 

Contestants are judged on innovation, aesthetics, functionality, durability and ecological compatibility. The Design Village judging panel is composed of experts from architectural engineering, landscaping, art construction and graphic design. 

For Neagoy, the whole process was challenging, yet rewarding.

“It was easily the most creative, challenging and rewarding academic experience I’ve ever participated in,” Neagoy said. “I’m so grateful I got the opportunity to do it.”

The group’s structure won them a cash award and the opportunity to have their project installed at the Shabang Live Music and Arts Festival from May 5 to May 6.

Credit: Evelyn Neagoy | Courtesy