One Drawing Challenge 2020: Competition Winners Revealed!

The winning drawings form a fascinating visual commentary on a wide range of world events from COVID–19 to the climate crisis.

Architizer Editors Architizer Editors

By the power of pen, pencil and computer mouse, we have definitive proof that architectural drawing is alive and well in 2020!

After a thorough review of all 100 Finalists by our stellar jury, Architizer is excited to announce the winners of the 2nd Annual One Drawing Challenge. The quality of submissions this year was better than ever, with powerful stories told through the language of architecture. The turbulent nature of 2020 provided ample inspiration for entrants, with many drawings forming a fascinating visual commentary on a wide range of world events from COVID–19 to the climate crisis.

This year, the Non-Student Grand Prize Winner is Bless Yee, an Associate at Handel Architects, for her drawing “Together Alone”, an detailed sectional drawing encapsulating 2020 within a hive-like network of subterranean chambers. Meanwhile, the Student Grand Prize Winners are Hannah Christy and Craig Findlay of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Their drawing, entitled “Concrete Atla(nti)s”, offers a glimpse of recycling activities taking place within the aging walls of a repurposed missile silo.

One Drawing Challenge juror Suchi Reddy, founder of architecture and design firm Reddymade, was suitably impressed by this year’s entries. “The submissions were skillful and complex, and the winners were expressive even without the description — when layered with that, they are even richer. Drawing as a means of emotive communication is alive and well!”

Without further ado, explore the winning drawings and 10 commended entries for this competition, complete with accompanying descriptions written by their creators:

Non-Student Winner: “Together Alone” by Yee Bless, Handel Architects

“Today, social distancing has manifested a new definition of ‘together’. The physical proximity of people and buildings have been reduced to the ‘virtual’. ‘Together’ we isolate, ‘together’ we work, and ‘together’ we zoom into the lens of our homes and struggles amidst a pandemic, the intrinsic fight for human rights, and survival of the everyday.

This drawing cuts a section through hexagonal pods that encapsulate our inhabited spaces. The hexagonal shape represents our self-proclaimed strength and efficiency around our designs, the same efficiency that circulated the virus with rapid speed. The hexagonal framework is deforming under the pressure of an evolving reconciliation for how we cope with the virus in our daily lives. Our pods are juxtaposed against one another revealing that we are closer ‘together’ than we think, and that we must act ‘together’ for the future.

Student Winner: “Concrete Atla(nti)s” by Hannah Christy and Craig Findlay, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

“Representing our capacity to maintain archaic infrastructure in an overwhelming environment overflowing with waste, occupied by a population complacent to unrest, this drawing is as complex as the topics it alludes to. It is set in one of the 72 decommissioned Atlas-F missile silos scattered across the United States. This drawing critiques the haphazard mismanagement of reusable commodities of varying scales ranging from abandoned infrastructure to recyclable materials.

Through the convention of a section, this drawing shows the activities in the depth of the repurposed missile silo. Figures sourced from The Age of Enlightenment depict radicals productively recycling materials into a built environment erecting towards the sky. Facilitated by the cold war era framework, the occupants build upon their neighbor’s successes allowing an innate desire for vertical growth to materialize.”

“The Minute Before Tomorrow” by Nada Matar, CallisonRTKL

“She murmured to me bluntly: you do not belong here. I answered bluntly: I do not belong here. I never managed to package her neatly when we were separated. Because I never had the courage to tell myself that I left, never to be back again. Now I am a shadow of myself, restlessly wandering Earth. “Do you often go back?” I am repeatedly asked. And I lift my gaze to hide my silence. I never left. She lives in me.

Our soul is a shelter. Cities live in us as much as we are in them. They inhibit our memories and tell our stories, they transmute, live, die and glow in our fantasies.

She will rise again, the optimist says. The cynic sees a city in the process of going extinct: Beirut will never be the same again.”

Commended Entry: “A story in my mind” by Sebastián Camacho, Martinez Arquitectura

“Architecture is a human and historical event, evolution over the time is always linked between these two, depending on the time architecture adapts and manages to adjust these changes. Each design and built work tells us a unique story, either because of its experience building it or living in there.

All this makes me think that every day that there are new works, exciting experiences are born, which must be appreciated to remember them forever and this will reflect majestic buildings in the world.

Let’s enjoy architecture, walk through it and live experiences within it.”

“Here Everywhere” by Hans Villamayor

“The 2020 pandemic has shifted the paradigm of living. Quarantines and lockdowns physically limit people to the confines of their homes. Historically, patients requiring extended-care have experienced delirium, causing short attention-span, incoherence, poor orientation and cognition. Extended quarantine has led to a similar kind of lifestyle imbalance. Here Everywhere illustrates the delirious experiences of disturbed places at the height of lockdown.

Such unease can be teased with many (paradoxically relevant) cognitive dissonances:

social / distant
cozy / claustrophobic
isolated / connected
privacy / publicity

In the midst of “these strange times,” these paradoxes blur distinctions and dimensions, imbuing architecture (spaces, surfaces, objects) with a multiplicity of meanings:

The bed is
The couch is
The table is
The desk is
The counter is
The floor is….

When there is no place to go but everything to do, everywhere is here.
When everything is available but only from home, here is everywhere.”

“Podalida” by Joakim Dahlqvist

Complete drawing


“A drawing of a fictional city. I was tired of all the dystopian vision and wanted to create something that is optimistic yet still ambiguous. It is a scene full of activity and dynamism, multiple stories without a single protagonist. There are many easter eggs and secrets to be discovered every time one looks at it.”

Decoding WasteCity by Andrea Zamora and Juanita Echeverry, Universidad de Los Andes

“The COVID-19 emergency, together with our consumer behavior, triggered pollution and waste production rates. This catastrophe led to city abandonment, where buildings became obsolete.

Returning to the ruined city implied rethinking the management of resources. Waste colonization became the strategy to survive reality. In this way, the new territory is shaped by the overlapping of multiple time scenarios where the interrelated layers reconcile conflictive situations.

Here, life is possible due to the existence of new mobility systems developed within the living planes. Bridges allow horizontal passages, while the redesign of Bogotá’s public transport tracks along vertical structures that pivot through the coatings of the new reality.

What used to be is essential for what is to come. Each layer is indispensable for life to endure in the new territory. By decoding the decay accumulated over decades and reconstructing from what is no longer usable, life can develop in WasteCity.”

Commended Entry: “Liberty Landfill Plaza” by James Wines, SITE New York Professor emeritus at Penn State University

“This work, entitled ‘Liberty Landfill Plaza’, shows the graphic section of a hypothetical commercial development proposal for Lower Manhattan. The landfill required to construct this project envelopes the Statue of Liberty; but. allows her torch to remain above ground as the centerpiece sculpture of a new public space. The drawing is also a special commentary on the Trump era’s impact on American culture and environment.”

“Sanctuary of Disney’s Unloved Children” by Xinze Seah, Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL)

Complete drawing


“Disney has shaped the world of animation with films such as Snow White, Pinocchio, and Cinderella. These films have had global acclaim and generations have grown up influenced by the “magic” of Disney.

On 8th April 1999, Disney abandoned Discovery island, a Safari zoo containing exotic birds and animals. To date, Disney has faced many allegations of abuse and mistreatment of its staff and animals.

Thus this project is an exploration into the “dark side” of Disney and to create a redemption for its forgotten victims. Inspired by the Disney film Cinderella, in which Cinderella’s furry friends construct a dress from the unwanted fabrics and beads deemed as “trash. With this dress, the forgotten will attempt to outshine the “tyrant”, Disney.”

Commended Entry: “The Warehouse of Unfinished Ideas” by Graham Kelman

“The nature of the creative process consists of a chain of smaller ideas, tangents, and design iterations. These concepts are essential stepping stones leading to the final output. Some might argue, they are meaningful works in their own right.I often imagine unfinished architectural ideas archived within a vast warehouse as a collection of physical prototypes and miniature models. They loom in their various scales and unfinished states, waiting for the opportunity to be applied to future projects.

These fragments are studied, reflected upon, and referenced. They exist prior to a project’s impetus, and remain long past it’s completion.Will these undeveloped ideas lie dormant for eternity, or will they one day have the ability to be deployed to their full potential? Do they truly matter if they are unseen or unfinished? For now they wait, eternally housed within the warehouse of the mind.”

“Owls and Vultures” by Dennis Allain, Dennis Allain ADI

“This concept was based on a design for a bird aviary contained within an abandoned hanger. We do not know how the door was left open. The explorer is also left to question why such a large cage was constructed in the first place. The detail in construction gives us a sense of purpose and the sheer scale of the vaulted ceiling provides the viewer scale. However the full meaning is mysterious and the secrets the cage once held are left up to the witnesses interpretation.”

“View of Apartment #5, a Labyrinth and Repository of Spatial Memories” by Clement Laurencio, University College London (UCL), Bartlett School of Architecture

“Five months have passed since the start of the lockdown here in London. I remain isolated on the third floor.

After many months of being locked up in my apartment, something peculiar began happening…

One day, as I made my way to the washroom, I suddenly found myself transported to another place. It was dark, but I could feel the cold stone beneath my feet. My steps echoed through this cavernous space. I reached for the wall, where I felt the familiar shape of the light switch… I was back in my apartment. I thought I was meandering through the sunken stepwells in Ahmedabad. Another time, I was running my hands on the smooth sun-kissed tiled roof of Doshi’s Sangath, when in fact, I sat in my living room, clasping my warm coffee mug… flashbacks of past times manifest themselves …

My memories had allowed me to escape my apartment.”

As our two top winners, Bless Yee and the team of Hannah Christy and Craig Findlay will each receive:

  • $2,500 cash prize
  • Leuchtturm1917 Notebook
  • Pro Digital Drawing Package, including:

Further to this, the 10 commended entries shown above will receive a prize package of analog and digital drawing tools. Revealed earlier this month, the top 100 drawings were also published in a special edition feature on Architizer Journal. Still to come, we’ll be publishing further features on the winners in the coming weeks.

Thank you to all participants for their hard work in creating these amazing drawings and telling fascinating stories about architecture. If you are interested in entering next year’s One Drawing Challenge, be sure to sign up for updates by clicking the blue button below.

In the meantime, keep on drawing!

Register for the 2021 One Drawing Challenge

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