One Drawing Challenge 2021: Winners Revealed!

These extraordinary drawings form powerful proof that, in 2021, the creativity of the architectural community remains undimmed.

Paul Keskeys Paul Keskeys

One of the most highly anticipated moments of our year is here: Architizer is thrilled to reveal the Winners and Commended Entries of the 3rd Annual One Drawing Challenge! These extraordinary drawings form a powerful reflection of our times, and prove that, while the world is burdened by some of its greatest challenges in recent memory, the creativity of the architectural community remains undimmed.

Reflecting on this year’s entries, juror, architect and artist James Wines commented: “I was delighted with the quality of invention, the thoughtful range of content and the use of superior graphic talents to tell provocative, often trenchant, stories about the obligations of architecture in a post-pandemic and environmentally endangered world.” Similarly, juror Amanda Ferber of Architecture Hunter called this year’s submissions “the most profound to date”. Ferber commented: “I believe that, due to the world’s situation over the past year, people were stimulated to critical thinking, and the resulting drawings were incredible.”

Architect and fellow juror Suchi Reddy, founder of Reddymade, added: “I loved many of the drawings, even more than last year. It felt like all the entries really explored the capacity of the medium of drawing to not just represent the real, but imagine and evoke the possible. The submissions were as inspiring as ever!”

A sample of this year’s One Drawing Challenge Winners and Commended Entries; see below for full credits.

After a meticulous review by our stellar jury, the top student prize was awarded to Sabina Blasiotti of The Bartlett, University College London, for her enigmatic image, entitled Outlines of Nuclear Geography. Blasiotti’s atmospheric elevation drawing appears to portray a golden city atop an epic mountain, but on closer inspection, reveals a darker exploration of humanity’s impact on the environment. Meanwhile, the non-student top prize is awarded to Endri Marku, a Lecturer at Polis University in Albania, for his frenetic, surreal drawing, entitled Vortex. Marku’s seemingly never-ending sketch depicts an architectural battle between stability and chaos, an appropriate symbol for the global turbulence of the past 12 months or more.

Without further ado, view the Top Winners and the 10 Commended Entries from this year’s One Drawing Competition, together with descriptions by their creators. Be sure to share your favorites with the hashtag #OneDrawingChallenge on Instagram and Twitter!

Student Winner: “Outlines of Nuclear Geography” by Sabina Blasiotti, The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL

“Outlines of Nuclear Geography is an infographic illustration of nuclear waste materials (e.g. spent fuel, i-graphite, metals, concrete and soil) forming the silhouette of a mountain and stack upon each other following two hierarchies of volume and radioactive contamination. The elevation further annotates a number of different decontamination technologies and potential reuse projects, distinguished for each material.

The elevation of a mountain is a direct response to the design of deterrence markers (such as The Landscape of Thorns or Spike Field by Michael Brill), which employ archetypes to signal an invisible nuclear threat hidden underground.

This illustration engages in a similar approach, but in reverse. The mountain stands for an archetype of eminence, abundance and presence. It does not signal an invisible threat, rather the threat is visualized, classified and exposed in all its matter, as a tangible issue that can and should be addressed.”

Juror Ciel Hunter commented on Blasiotti’s drawing: “These are the type of visual conversation-starting tools I hope to see used more in both the infrastructure & climate change conversations. That, combined with the even higher percentage of drawings focused on climate & societal fractures, makes me hope that perhaps you all will continue to prompt the community to think of ways to both communicate climate challenges, and use design to invent new solutions.”

Non-Student Winner: “Vortex” by Endri Marku, Lecturer at Polis University

“The drawing intends to represent the fragility of our reality which, most of the time, is too locked in the present. The inherited cities, signs and the superficial order of our civilization gives us the illusion of stability and perennial continuity while our existence is actually only a bubble in between infinite and nomadic spirals of space and time, an urban continuum slowly dissolving, whose orderly structure is incapable to sustain humanity’s descending spiral.”

Juror and former One Drawing Challenge Winner Bless Yee reflected on this and other ‘frenetic’ drawings this year: “A noticeable trend in this year’s drawings seems to be an expressive desire to illustrate the increasing amount of objects and buildings in our environment. I think it is a reflection of how our brains are continuously required to process an endless amount of information.”

Commended Entry: “Capriccio of Cardiff Coal Exchange” by Dan Liu, M-Teampannon Építészmérnöki Kft.

“The drawing is a capriccio or architectural fantasy of the derelict Cardiff Coal and Shipping Exchange. It captures the essence of its current dilapidated building fabric while romanticises its ruinous state. This vast abandoned building is a lone standing monument commemorating the glorious past of coal mining in South Wales and embodies the rich cultural history of the Industrial Revolution era. With the last ship leaving the docks of Cardiff packed with the ‘black gold’ of the Welsh valleys, a period of irreversible slow decay began.

The fate of the Coal Exchange building is a stark reminder of how the reliance on carbon-based fuel has shaped economy historically and it tells a powerful story about the socio-economic decline caused by resource depletion. This drawing is a gesture of appreciation of this magnificent heritage building and aims to serve as a touchstone for any future regenerative efforts.”

Commended Entry: “State of Union” by Nielen de Bruyn, Turner & Townsend

“The world around us is fragile. Even the seemingly complex cities we’ve built which represent the taming of our environment, can quickly crumble to expose a delicate and fleeting reality when pressured and tested by those that inhabit it. In the US, hyper partisanship, civil unrest, growing wealth disparity and accelerating economic imbalances threaten to tear its social fabric apart, and with it, alter the built environment in ways not yet predicted or understood.


This piece tries to capture that uncertainty. Depicting New York City, what many see as the symbol of American prosperity, tearing apart under the pressures being faces by those within it and the country at large. How it will reconstruct itself in the future though is unknown…”

Commended Entry: “Treehouses without Trees” by Thomas Schaller, Artist / Concept Designer

“A purely fictional view of a floating city that addresses the issues of isolation, connection, and a changing climate in an indefinite future.”

Commended Entry: “Living with objects” by Amin Zargar, Azad University Tehran North Branch

“Slums are the result of people migrating to big cities and economic problems. They first start to grow in small numbers in the suburbs and then get bigger. Due to the cultural differences in this immigrant class, different lifestyles emerge and to meet all their needs throughout life, the sheds which they live in must be flexible and allowed to add or change during the day. In this informal life, design starts from the details and over time, as needs arise, responses tailored to the situation are added to their living space and ultimately form a whole.

In a place where they do not have the budget to build, programs are freely highlighted with the help of objects, so that sometimes in a module of objects that are hybridized by changing the layout or combining with other objects, dwellers can have different spaces of a house, shop, workshop, etc.”

Commended Entry: “Manchester Courtyards; a proposal for Ancoats” by Rory Chisholm, Donald Insall Associates

“In my eyes, as the bird has its nest, humans do have a primal architecture. Primal in both in the sense of ancient typologies and in the sense of experiential environments that appear to have evolved to best engage our senses.

As Pallasmaa says, architecture “must respond to the primordial hunter and farmer concealed in the body. Our sensations of comfort, protection and home are rooted in the primordial experiences of countless generations”. This design (for new courtyard dwellings, set into the remnant of a disused Manchester factory) argues that our sense of well-being and home is greatly increased when we design for the internal ancestor.


The pencil speaks of how the space looks, and the ink speaks of how the space feels. In this way the duality of pencil vs ink allows me to lift up these primal principles of feeling as that of the highest value.”

Commended Entry: “The Earth Embassy” by Christian Coackley, The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL

“The project speculates on the revival of the revolutionary ideals embodied by John F. Kennedy (JFK), 35th president of the United States. JFK is associated with the space race, technological power, the Cold War, unification and integration, idealism, false hope, failure, and his death, leaving his legacy in mystic and allegorical ruin.

This project takes the ruins of a failed lunar colony base as the foundations for a newly constructed Earth Embassy on the Moon. An outpost at an urban scale, where the nations of Earth can send diplomats and scientists to engage in a united effort towards undoing the scars of the anthropogenic. It serves as a reminder to this generation and the next that the Earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the Earth.”

Commended Entry: “The Façade of a City” by Scott Bojanowski, The University of Texas at Arlington – College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs

“This piece, titled The Façade of a City, is a two-point perspective drawing on white Strathmore paper (24″ x 18″) using pencil, Micron Ink Pens, and Faber Castell Colored Brush Pens. The Illustration portrays a dense cityscape in which architectural forms are woven and highly integrated to create an all-encompassing edifice. The sculptural fabric of the city is composed of many layers which vary in color, material, pattern, and form. Assembled together, these layers convey the full apparatus of the city as a single work of architecture.”

Commended Entry: “The Water Parliament – Bangkok City 2100” by Tyler Lim, National University of Singapore

“The Project is speculative as it is a cautionary tale of a new Water Parliament in Bangkok city that embraces sea level rise and valued it as an opportunity, using 3 integrated water infrastructure as an urban redevelopment toolkit that brings back traditional Thai water Culture. It is meant to increase public awareness and explores the potential of using water as an urban design toolkit and space-making material to facilitate the social and environmental well-being of the local Thai, allowing them to adapt their life to the ground changes and sea-level rise.

On top of that, the various narrative scenes are scattered around a larger environment which tends to communicate a more global idea on the characteristics of this new Thai city in 2100, showcasing how the benevolent symbiotic urban growth is embedded in these 3 different infrastructures. Even though they are being explained individually, they all existed as one.”

Commended Entry: “A(lice) I(n) Www.onderland” by John Clayson, The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL

“Using Carroll’s narrative as a tool, the architecture explores how the relationship between the physical and the virtual can be manifested, founded on the notion that humans and machines are beginning to inhabit the world in a similar way.

As an archive of our online interactions, data centres are cultural signifiers of this epoch and provide fertile ground for the study of the physical implications of our online interactions; servers providing a physical metaphor for the way humans inhabit the tower blocks of modern cites. The building is a privatised data bank, the data symbolically stored through VR in a virtual landscape known as www.onderland.

The project acts as a criticism of the way we inhabit cities, arguing that the consumption of 2D images, especially (but not only) through screens, is creating a rift between our physical and online experience of architecture.”

Commended Entry: “Class-Reunion 2021_Gold/ Ink on Canvas_71 x 47 inch” by Jeronimo Andura, HTWG Konstanz

“Whirling whirlpools in which skyscrapers sink, architects who are thrown out of the picture-structure, desperately holding on to measuring rods and whose clothes have been torn from their bodies, rocket launching bases and tattering cities. A snake, perhaps that of the impending recession and manipulation, raises its hissing head and is seized by an aggressive eagle. The future is not a pleasant utopia, but a desert semiotic landscape of contradicting signs.

In the middle the Madonna (Zaha Hadid) rises radiantly. She appears as the crowned Mother of God. Hovering above the chaos, with folded hands, resting in herself, she is perhaps the one who is able to hold the whole falling apart. Architectural heroes like Mies, Leonardo and others are indicated. The architecture is in a whirlwind, as is the world. In the future it is a matter of finding new ground under your feet and a new point of view.”

As our two top winners, Sabina Blasiotti and Endri Marku will each receive a $2,500 cash prize and an exclusive interview, to be published on Architizer in the coming weeks. Revealed earlier this month, the top 100 drawings were also published in a special edition feature on Architizer Journal. Further to this, Seven Special Mention Awards were awarded to a further group of submissions for their originality in their category.

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 2022 One Drawing Challenge

Paul Keskeys Author: Paul Keskeys
Paul Keskeys is Editor in Chief at Architizer. An architect-trained editor, writer and content creator, Paul graduated from UCL and the University of Edinburgh, gaining an MArch in Architectural Design with distinction. Paul has spoken about the art of architecture and storytelling at many national industry events, including AIANY, NeoCon, KBIS, the Future NOW Symposium, the Young Architect Conference and NYCxDesign. As well as hundreds of editorial publications on Architizer, Paul has also had features published in Architectural Digest, PIN—UP Magazine, Archinect, Aesthetica Magazine and PUBLIC Journal.
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