Yesterday evening, in a ceremony at the National Building Museum in Washington DC, Blank Space announced the winners of their annual Fairy Tales competition. Representing the best the architectural imagination has to offer were 4 winners and 10 honorable mentions, selected by a jury of high-profile judges including Dan Wood, Michel Rojkind, Marion Weiss, and Stefano Boeri, among many more.
“The winning entries in this year’s competition include oblique references to current events, mundane daily activities and human emotions that we all easily relate to—they make visible how we shape space, and in turn, how space shapes us,” said Executive Director of the National Building Museum and jury member Chase W Rynd. “The images and narratives are so wildly outlandish, and yet, so grounded that it seems like we could mistakenly stumble into any of them.”
The winning entry this year went to Mykhailo Ponomarenko, a Ukrainian architect whose sci-fi landscapes and painterly presentation provide the backdrop for a surprisingly relatable tale. Read on to find out more about this Fairy Tale, as well as the remaining 3 winners and 10 honorable mentions.
FIRST PRIZE: Mykhailo Ponomarenko for “Last Day”
First Prize goes to Mykhailo Ponomarenko, a Ukrainian-trained architect now working for EDSA inc in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for his entry “Last Day.” The entry utilizes classical painting techniques to create monumental landscapes with strange scifi megastructures inserted into them. The relatively mundane occurrences in the story make it feel like these wild scenes could in fact be real. “Landscapes have always inspired me to put something weird, unreal and out of human scale into them. Something not feasible and not practical that contrasts with the natural surroundings, but also exists at the same scale. These satirical interventions lead to new ideas and feelings about nature - they make the viewer more aware about the environment and our harmful impact on it. We are flat surface creatures. Sometimes I feel that we crave it so much that the planet is going to be turned into pavement so cars can go anywhere, and our industries could continue expanding. The "Saturn Rings" in my proposal represent these flat surface desires but in a more poetic, optimistic, and friendly manner.”- Mykhailo Ponomarenko
SECOND PRIZE: Terrence Hector for “City Walkers”
Second Prize goes to Terrence Hector, an architect from Chicago with an M.Arch and BS in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His entry, “City Walkers” or “The Possibility of a Forgotten Domestication and Biological Industry” tells a beautiful story of a sentient species of architecture that moves slower than humans can perceive. That doesn’t stop human beings from harnessing every possible bit of energy from “The Walkers” in addition to spawning settlements in their wake. “The city in this story was an exploration of civilization and urbanism as humanity’s relationship with natural and biological systems that exist on a vastly longer timescale than the human lifespan. Creating a closer relationship time-wise between human and natural timeframes let me derive a new urban typology, which also acts as a parable of overexploitation. I was trying to work through an inferred genealogy from the USS Monitor to Hayao Miyazaki, working through a tradition of humanizing massive, aggressive machines.”- Terrence Hector
THIRD PRIZE: Ariane Merle d’Aubigné & Jean Maleyrat for “Up Above”
Third Prize goes to Ariane Merle d’Aubigné & Jean Maleyrat, two French architects that met in architecture school, for “Up Above”, an imaginative story of refugees in the sky that build shanties on thin stilts, high in the clouds, to escape oppression, regulations, and inequality on the surface of the earth below. “Revisiting the world of fairy tales by participating in the Blank Space competition was very stimulating. The short narrative takes a look at reality through the marvelous and the fantastic. We have tried to highlight contemporary issues and concerns by letting the supernatural burst into reality. Migration, the accumulation of wealth, overpopulation, the terrorist threat and pollution are some of the issues with which we live every day. We highlighted these concerns and our love of art through this poetic tale. Our generation often aspires to an "elsewhere", in our "elsewhere" the rules of the game have changed.”- Ariane Merle d’Aubigné & Jean Maleyrat
AIAS PRIZE: Maria Syed & Adriana Davis for “Playing House”
The AIAS Prize for the highest scoring entry from an AIAS member goes to Maria Syed & Adriana Davis, two architects that met while studying at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, for their story titled “Playing House”, an exercise in illustrating the destructive power of split-personality. Starting with traditional drawings of a modest dwelling, the drawings, and in turn, the narrative, devolve into a series of accusations, misunderstandings, and multiplicity. “Playing House embodies the idea that architecture can eclipse the personality of its occupants, where the character and style of the architecture dictate the mood of the inhabitants. The loud textures and discordant angles of the home sparked the idea for the story: transitioning from room to room manifests itself in drastic physical and psychological change. The drawings, the genesis of our submission, address architectural conventions of projection drawings, merged with the unconventional appearance of the home to create friction. This act is mirrored in the story, where a typical visit from a neighbor turns peculiar. The two creators of this project worked closely throughout their undergraduate career, creating an inseparable partnership for their first collaboration.”- Maria Syed & Adriana Davis
The Jury also awarded 10 honorable mentions.
- Minh Tran, Alan Ma, & Yi Ning Lui for “iDentity: Virtual Reality Therapy for Cultural Identity Crises”
- Xinran Ma for “One Thousand and One Nights”
- Jun Li, Joris Komen, Yuxing Chen & Yina Dong for “My Brother Ernest”
- Carly Dean & Richard Nelson-Chow for “Call for Submissions: The Great Wall of America”
- Aidan Doyle & Sarah Wan (Wandoy Studio) for “Course of Empire”
- Dakis Panayiotou for “Leftovers of a Dream”
- Julien Nolin for “Amazonia Pier: Manufacturing an Architecture of Pleasure”
- Michael Quach for “Sapphire City”
- Janice Kim & Carol Shih for “The Dearest”
- Chong Yan Chuah, Nathan Su & Bethany Edgoose for “Aisha's Asylum”