Shinkenchiku Residential Design Competition 2023 New Summer Comfort
Summer is the season of all possibilities. In July, the amount of sunshine remains incredibly generous: almost 16 hours a day. Plenty of time for a wide range of activities.
Summer is the season of lightness and discovery. Lightness of clothing, lightness of holidays, discovery of new horizons. But also a time for self-discovery, in the true sense of the word: wearing lighter clothes, possibly leaving certain parts of the body uncovered.
Summer is the season when everything is decided by the sun, whether we go looking for it or turn away from it. Heat becomes a tourist value, sometimes to the extreme – choosing the hottest destinations, unafraid of becoming lost in the desert, pushing your body to its limits so that it accepts the highest temperatures. This quest can also be carried out on an individual scale, without traveling. Putting reflective panels around your face for a quick tan is already claiming the sun for yourself.
Summer is a season that we feel in our skin. Our bodies are under constant strain. The sun affects our skin tone and leaves traces of tan. It’s also a season when we can choose to stay home and assess how the sun is returning to us. Let’s enjoy breakfast on the terrace, well protected by our awning. At the end of the day, the lower light will penetrate deeper into the living room, just to illuminate the page of the book we’re reading on the sofa.
This is the ideal scheme for domestic architecture in tune with the fullness of the season. When lights, sensations, and spatial arrangements are so perfectly aligned, there’s something to purr about.
Summer is the season that (re)transforms us into sensitive receivers of light and warmth. We feel reconnected to nature, just as we feel that our domestic rhythms take on another dimension, thanks to the light and heat.
The paradox is that we want people to believe that this comfort can only be achieved with structural work, light, and an enclosed roof. Yes, in theory. But not in practice. If that level of intervention were the case, buildings would be nothing more than giant-scale models. Instead they have to withstand the harshness of the real world, the elements, temperature variations, and so forth. This is where a whole range of secondary equipment comes into play, such as air conditioning, ventilation, flow. But this is an almost shameful part of architecture. It is not shown, or only minimally. The whole art of drawing up the plans and executing the works is based on the masking, let’s even say the camouflage, more or less skillful and elegant, of these air-conditioning units, blinds, or roller shutters.
This is the invisible action of architecture: spending a great deal of effort integrating components that shouldn’t be visible. It’s an anatomical logic. This “junk” (pipes, circuits, blocks) has to be contained between skeleton and skin. Occasionally, some “crustacean” buildings reverse the logic by turning this junk into a carapace.
A gesture as provocative as Beaubourg’s makes the invisible visible and even transforms it into a plastic event. But Beaubourg – the Parisians’ name for Centre Pompidou – was a building before the oil crisis, a bit baba-cool but far from frugal. Yet economy is a cardinal principle of modern architecture.
Is it possible to adapt the Beaubourg gesture, or rather its spirit? For a start, yes, by questioning the very notion of comfort, as reflected in the design and construction procedures. Doesn’t the influx of standards, equipment, and sanitary controls, always in the name of the user, cause comfort to drift toward conformity? Is asepsis the only horizon? We can no longer pretend that well-being can be generated without instruments. It’s high time we knew how to look at these instruments.
Look at them as little ready-mades, which will bring façades or gables to life in a sculptural way. But they should also be seen as a way of understanding the different flows within the building. That’s the paradox of this equipment: to ensure comfort, to make the building look stable, it consumes a lot of energy and has an undeniable ecological impact. If they are often hidden, it’s because they reveal that comfort – or a certain type of comfort – thrives on an uncomfortable exploitation. Giving a place to these “instruments of comfort” within the project also means questioning them in the light of day (but a sensitive questioning, not a police interrogation) about their capacities and their limits. It means showing that they are part of a consumption network that, in this age of climate and ecological imperatives, cannot be swept under the carpet.
Transforming the hidden into an element of composition. It’s a double-edged sword. There’s an element of provocation, a Duchampian one at that, which makes us admit that an air-conditioning unit has beauty and can be seen as part of a wider architectural scheme. It also means accepting the mechanistic dimension of architecture. If we think of a building as a machine, it’s because it’s full of little machines.
How can we reconcile the presence of this equipment with the need to be a good corporate citizen? The first answer lies in accepting these flows, no longer concealing them, and welcoming them in innovative architectural designs.
In recent years, summer has become a season of concern. Heat waves, forest fires, and droughts are on the increase, tangible proof of climate insecurity. We don’t want summer to turn into a disaster season and travel into a trap. The summer season has always been marked by a taste for exaggeration (going to the hottest destinations, getting the most extreme tan), but it is now the disruption that threatens it. The anthropocene is receiving warnings.
Architecture must therefore help to guarantee well-tempered atmospheres while bearing in mind that equipment also consumes a lot of energy. It’s a case of squaring the circle: How can we be climate-friendly while maintaining a high level of comfort in buildings? No doubt we need to again put our faith in the dynamics of space. These comfort features need to be accommodated in the right thicknesses and interstices.
A building is like a person. It has a skeleton (its structure) and a skin (its façades). Between these 2 elements come several layers, several compartments, and several cells that regulate the relationship between the inside and the outside. This material inside the building must be capable of ensuring the right exchanges and regulations. In short, architecture must rediscover its duty to acclimatize.
Eventually, users will find a “different” or even a “new” level of comfort. Perhaps they will be prepared to accept that this comfort is more fragile than the hyper-comfort imposed by standards and hygiene, and a degree of fragility also contributes to the vibrancy of the space.
What can we ask of the architecture of our time? To remain aware of environmental issues, while allowing everyone to rediscover the wonderful pleasures of summer.
The number of winners and the amount of prize money will be determined by the judge.
- 2023.08.01 (火)Registration opens
- 2023.12.01 (金)Registration closed
- 2024.04.01 (月)Announcement of the winners
Entry and Application
To enter the competition, please first register on the competition website. A registration number will be issued by email after the registration form is properly completed. Each applicant should keep a record of this registration number, as it will be needed for submitting your proposal. If there is any change in the registered personal information, re-registration is required. Also, if the applicant wishes to submit multiple proposals, it is necessary to obtain a registration number for each proposal.
• No inquiries regarding the registration number will be accepted once the number has been issued.
• Registration is only available through the competition website.
• Use of mobile phone email address is not recommended since there might be problems in receiving the registration number.
Contents: Site plan, floor plan, elevation, section, perspective drawing and axonometric drawing at any scale. You are free to include photograph of a model, detailed drawing, other chart. Your submission should include a descriptive text of your design in less than 250 words in English, which must be in 12 point type or larger. Paste this same text in your submission email. All drawings, illustrations, and texts should be laid out on two sheets of A2 (420×594 mm / 16.5×23.5 inches). You may also embed external links.
• File format: PDF
• File size should not exceed 1 GB (please combine two sheets in one file)
• The registration number must be used as the name of the PDF file of each design entry (e.g., skc0000.pdf).
Use your pre-registered email address and adhere to the format described below.
1) Email subject line should read: “0000 (your registration number) / Shinkenchiku Residential Design Competition 2023”.
2) Attach your submission file. Be mindful of the file size. Files that do not meet the specified requirements will not be considered.
3) Your email should include the following information: registration number / full name, age, and profession of all the team members / team leader’s home address, telephone number, fax number (if available), and email address / description text of the design in less than 250 words.
Note: The amount of emails right before the deadline may overwhelm our internet server. Please do not wait until the last minute to submit your entry. The competition hosts will take no responsibility for submissions that arrive late due to technical issues and will not judge such submissions.
Announcement of the Winner
Winner(s) will be announced in the 2024 April issue of SHINKENCHIKU (published on April 1, 2024) and April issue of a+u (published on March 27, 2024), their digital issues, and on the competition website.
• Copyright of the proposal belongs to the applicant, while the publishing right belongs to Shinkenchiku-sha Co., Ltd..
• Submitted proposals, regardless of the result, may be published on the competition website.
• Questions regarding the competition regulations will not be answered by the hosts. All matters not covered in the regulations listed above are left to the discretion of the entrants.
• Proposals must not have been made public previously in any form. The work must not (in total or in part) infringe on anybody’s copyrights. Do not use images copied from magazines, books, or websites. If a copyright infringement is discovered, the prize may be taken back at the host’s discretion.
• The winning entrants will be requested to submit high-resolution digital data for publication.
• All fees associated with submissions must be borne by entrants.
• Please double-check the contents of your submission. You will not be allowed to replace your proposal after submission.
• Please avoid corrupted texts and broken links. Please embed all the linked files.
• Entries will only be accepted if they adhere to all the regulations.
Stéphanie Bru (Sainte-Gemmes-d’Andigné, France) graduated from National School of Architecture Paris-Belleville in 1999, and Alexandre Theriot (Moulins, France) graduated from National School of Architecture Marne-la-Vallée in 1999. Together, they established BRUTHER in Paris in 2007. Since then, the studio has been working in the fields of architecture, research, teaching, urban planning, and landscape.