The SOM Foundation has announced its three winners for the 2023 SOM Foundation China Fellowship. Students Xianglan He, Bolun Qiu, and Shuaibo Shi were each selected for a $5,000 research prize, which this year was organized around the theme of "Shaping Our World Through Air," a prompt meant to investigate the relationship between air and different elements of architectural design.
Topics as wide-ranging as air quality and pollution to spatial design and the notion of air as a building material were all engaged by the winning projects. Judges Peter Duncan, Jing Liu, Doreen Heng Liu, and Peking University professor Kongjian Yu vetted proposals as a group after first reviewing each independently as submissions.
He’s ‘Air Purification and Urban Strategies’ proposal looks at the development of clean air considerations in green building techniques in leading countries with the aim of adapting the findings towards more scalable industry-wide solutions. The recent Hebei University graduate will explore the impacts of such new methods in Scandinavia on the functions of buildings. A secondary thought into government’s raising public awareness of green building is also included. Duncan says her submission "provide[d] a unique perspective in researching new architectural or urban design scaled solutions for the improvement of environmental air quality."
He added: "My hometown, Shijiazhuang in the Hebei province, used to have a very serious air pollution problem. However, with the closure of factories and restrictions on private car travel and other initiatives, there has been an improvement in the environment. I want to know what other more developed regions are doing, such as how some of the Nordic countries are fostering responsible ecological policies. The most important thing in improving environmental issues is still people, so getting people and architecture to work together is a very thought-provoking idea."
She was joined by Chongqing University undergraduate Bolun Qiu, whose project 'A Study on the Relationship Between Urban Form, Social Class, and Air Quality' will bring him to Tokyo and Copenhagen to research the equitable distribution of clean air through to the public. Jing Li said the scope reminds her of "the ways Alexander von Humboldt’s meticulously documented atlas of the great mountains in the world." Qiu added that he wanted to study the issue through an urban planning perspective in relation to his coursework.
The winners were rounded out by Shi's proposal, 'Environmental Tectonics Through Air: Learning from Vernacular,' which called for a look at the effects o thermodynamics and air on vernacular architecture. Shi said he hopes a "new paradigm for regional environmental tectonics can be provided." The Southeast University postgrad student's research will be spread across five interrelated aspects: environmental-climate selection, spatial-form type, spatial climate-gradient, climate regulation-interface, and material-construction method.
Duncan commended the proposal finally as “a topic of potential significance in both the conservation of traditional villages in China and through learnings applied in urban regeneration nationally.”
More information about SOM Foundation fellowship opportunities can be found here.
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