In a world that currently feels out of touch with reality (to some of us at least), design concepts from a competition centered around architectural make-believe seem not so far-fetched. Last night, the winners of Blank Space’s 2017 Fairy Tales competition, now in its fourth year, were announced at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The winning teams created alternate universes that illuminate some of the greatest social and environmental issues of our time.
Chase W. Rynd, one of the 20 distinguished jurors of the competition and Executive Director of the National Building Museum, said that the images are wildly outlandish yet grounded at the same time. “It seems like we could mistakenly stumble into any of them. They are personal and powerful — a testament to the power of architecture as a world-builder.”
Submissions came in from over 60 countries, exploring current events and the creative process through short stories and artwork. Three prize winners were chosen along with 10 proposals that received honorable mentions. See the otherworldly proposals from the top winners below, and to get a feel for all of the entries, read the short stories that complement each one here.
First Prize — Last Day by Mykhailo Ponomarenko
Ukrainian architect Mykhailo Ponomarenko designed “Last Day” to bring awareness to humanity’s harmful impact on the environment. Using classical painting techniques, he embedded strange sci-fi megastructures into dreamy landscapes.
“Landscapes have always inspired me to put something weird, unreal and out of human scale into them,” says Ponomarenko. “Something not feasible and not practical that contrasts with the natural surroundings but also exists at the same scale.” Ponomarenko inserts “Saturn Rings” into his scenes, representing our desire to enhance and expand industry in the world.
Second Prize — City Walkers by Terrence Hector
Chicago-based architect Terrence Hector imagined a world in which a sentient species of architecture, the City Walkers, move slower than humans can perceive. Drawing inspiration from machines like the USS Monitor and the spirited worlds created by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, Hector’s industrial structures reference humanity’s tradition of designing large, lifelike and aggressive machines.
“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 life span,” says Hector.
Third Prize — Up Above by Ariane Merle d’Aubigné and Jean Maleyrat
French duo Ariane Merle d’Aubigné and Jean Maleyrat created a proposal that tells the story of refugees in the sky that build and live in shanties on thin stilts to escape oppression, regulations and inequality on earth. “Migration, the accumulation of wealth, overpopulation, the terrorist threat and pollution are some of the issues with which we live every day,” say the designers. “Our generation often aspires to an ‘elsewhere’; in our ‘elsewhere,’ the rules of the game have changed.”
The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) also sponsored this 2017 Fairy Tales competition. The award below was given to the AIAS member with the highest scoring entry.
AIAS Prize — Playing House by Maria Syed and Adriana Davis
Maria Syed and Adriana Davis put together a concept that illustrates the destructive power of split personality. In this design, a modest dwelling and its accompanying narrative turn 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,” they say. To create friction, the pair juxtaposed their traditional projection drawings with the unconventional shape and layout of the home.
The Jury also awarded 10 honorable mentions to: Minh Tran, Alan Ma and Yi Ning Lui; Xinran Ma; Jun Li, Joris Komen, Yuxing Chen and Yina Dong; Carly Dean and Richard Nelson-Chow; Aidan Doyle and Sarah Wan (Wandoy Studio); Dakis Panayiotou; Julien Nolin; Michael Quach; Janice Kim and Carol Shih; and Chong Yan Chuah, Nathan Su and Bethany Edgoose.
See all of the designs submitted with each proposal here.
Images courtesy of Blank Space