International design competition for students of architecture

The opening event of CASA 15, an international design competition for students of architecture, was held this year at the Faculty of Technology of the University of Debrecen. The participants, around two hundred second-year students of architecture from three different countries, were instructed to design a residential building with community functions located on a specific site in Debrecen. The host institution, the Department of Architecture of the University of Debrecen, was represented by as many as sixty students partaking in the competition.

Students from various educational institutions in Romania offering a program in architecture launched their very first CASA (meaning “house” in Romanian) student design competition in 2009, commissioning second-year students of architecture to design a new residential building on a vacant lot in the city of Bucharest during the spring semester of that academic year.

Ever since then, this event has been held annually and, as time passed, the initiative has even become international. Students of architectural engineering from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Debrecen (FoE, UD) took part in the CASA Challenge last year for the first time, when the event was hosted by the University of Timisoara. Their performance then was so convincing that, on the basis of their results, the program now can be hosted this year by FoE, UD, attracting almost 200 students and 40 to 50 teachers and instructors from one institution of higher education in Serbia, four in Romania and two in Hungary (Újvidék – Novi Sad, Kolozsvár – Cluj-Napoca, Nagyvárad – Oradea, Temesvár – Timisoara, Nagyszeben – Sibiu, Győr and Debrecen). Representing the host, the Faculty of Technology in Debrecen, as many as 60 students joined in.
On Saturday, the program started with an introduction of the task and a series of professional presentations on the current topic.

“The students have been asked to design a small-scale residential building with community functions to be built for an imaginary NGO on a vacant lot of land located at the address 10 Szepességi utca in the center of Debrecen. An interesting feature of this area is that there are buildings in and around it displaying the so-called cívis [verbatim: civic, displaying civil values associated with the city of Debrecen] architectural tradition," said the head of the Department of Architectural Engineering at FoE, UD.

Department Head Tamás Szentirmai revealed that, in order for the competitors to get the most out of their task, they were actually taken to the site.

“As our second-year students are just starting to design residential and other buildings, they are not overburdened by the innumerous rules and regulations, so they can let their imagination run wild and come up with great solutions. The municipal government can even select a few ideas from this pool at a later stage," he added.
István Puskás, Debrecen's Deputy Mayor for Cultural Affairs, said that the city of Debrecen was currently undergoing a period of intense change.

“We are doing our best to be able preserve our built heritage. The student architects' project is fascinating because it is interesting to involve observers and perspectives from outside as well. These inspirations will certainly provide us with a lot of useful ideas," noted István Puskás.
István Gábor, Debrecen’s Chief Architect highlighted that real estate developments implemented in our city nowadays would be typically conceived along economic and economical lines. However, the university students' application seems to put a lot more emphasis on the environmental approach.

“During such a planning process, even some general proposals could be formulated on how to regenerate and revive the rest of Debrecen's old town section," he added.
CASA 15 will come to a final conclusion at the end of the current university semester in June, when an international jury consisting of four renowned architects will evaluate and adjudicate the entries. This will be followed by a workshop for the presentation of the best designs, an awarding ceremony and, finally, an exhibition. The best award winning designs will also be collected and made available to the general public.

Please find further details at the CASA website.

Press Centre – OCs