Students from all over California spent the weekend in Poly Canyon as part of the 33rd Annual Design Village Competition, hosted by Cal Poly during Open House weekend. The competition has become one of the largest events during Open House.
This year, 53 teams and 229 participants from 15 colleges in California competed at the design-build competition. This was more than double the participants at last year’s event.
“Normally, it’s just for the experience, and that’s why they show up,” said Amy Strazzarino, an architecture senior and director of the event.
Competitors designed their projects based on this year’s theme, “Go Convertible: The Essence of Switch-Rich Architecture.” The theme is “about (being) changeable, adaptability, (being) moveable; pretty much like the transformer action figures; you know, open mode to closed mode, things that move,” Strazzarino said.
Their designs had to be capable of housing their entire team for the weekend in Poly Canyon.
“It’s a design-build competition, challenging students to design, build, transport and rebuild a livable structure for a weekend for their entire team,” architecture senior Nicholas Holmes said.
“So these are temporary architectural and engineering masterpieces,” Holmes said. “Innovation, creativity and artistic expression are encouraged.”
Students applied the theme to come up with several different structures.
“We chose our design because it is modular, as in the panels can move,” Cal Poly architecture sophomore Jai Kumaran said of his project with teammate Guillermo Perez, also an architecture sophomore. “Basically, having our panels be modular makes it a more simplified design and allows it to adapt to a changing climate and environment.”
Amaranta Hernandez, an architecture sophomore from West Valley College, explained their idea of a pod, where individual pods could be brought together to form a communal space, which could create up to eight different layouts. “It’s kind of like a Tetris game,” Hernandez said.
Ursula Moore’s team from Cal Poly Pomona used a PVC structure and covered it with colorful air mattresses for insulation. They also used tarps for water protection and privacy.
“It’s going to look like a giant piece of candy,” said Moore, an architecture graduate student. “Part of our convertibility is we have a structure that folds flat to the roof and also folds out front for shade, and we have seats that slide out and permeate the skin in front, so we can sit under our little overhang.”
Students had to bring all of their materials to build the designs into the canyon, roughly a one-mile hike, using only man-power. Some teams constructed rolling structures; others strapped materials to themselves to carry them to the site.
The trek up the hill proved challenging for some teams.
“Everything is working right except for how heavy it is,” said Houston Drum, an architecture junior from Cal Poly Pomona who was on his way up the hill, carrying his structure on his shoulders with a teammate. “We wish we had wheels.”
“Four big wheels,” added teammate Jimmy Macias, an architecture graduate student.
Another team from Cal Poly Pomona also noted the weight. “I’d make it lighter,” said Ivan Contreras, an architecture junior. “We said the same thing last year, but we still made it heavy. Too much pride, I guess.”
“I don’t think we need to change anything. We just need to exercise more,” architecture senior Sushanth Kalidoss said of his team from NewSchool of Architecture and Design in San Diego. “We’re done, that’s the most exciting thing,” he added, once they made it to the top. He and his teammate, Aimee Amador, pushed their materials up the hill in shopping carts. This team, whose project was called “Shop-a-holic,” won second-place in the Best Overall category.
First place in that category went to a team from Long Beach City College for their project, “Three Pods.”
Other top awards included the People’s Choice category. First place was awarded to Southwestern College’s “Hikari Light.” Second place went to Bakersfield College’s “Hotel Six.”
“Design Village was very successful this year,” Strazzarino said regarding the event. “There were a lot of people out there even with the bad weather. A lot of people from the community came.”
“It did rain the first night, but most of the structures were pretty waterproof because (participants) knew in advance that it might rain,” she said. “None of them got demolished, so overall, it was pretty successful.”