The Future of Shade Is Here: Presenting the Winners of the Sunbrella Design Competition

Architizer Editors Architizer Editors

Each year since 2013, Architizer has partnered with Sunbrella to sponsor the Future of Shade Competition, an open call for projects and ideas that explore the possibilities of what fabric architecture can be. Now in its third year, the 2015 competition received 190 submissions from 36 countries including the US, Canada, India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Italy, China, and Bolivia. The wide range of entries challenges conventional notions of how fabric can be used to make exciting, functional spaces.

Sunbrella is the premier supplier of performance fabrics used in some of the world’s most experimental projects, perhaps best exemplified by the Future of Shade Competition. For the first time, the competition was broken out into separate categories, representing different facets of the expanding possibilities that fabric brings to architecture: one each in the Humanitarian, Wellness Garden, and Building Shade categories.

The 2015 jury included experts from across the spectrum of fabric architecture. The winners were selected by David Rubin of LAND Collective, Kyle Barker of MASS Design Group and John Gant of Glen Raven Inc, while Architizer’s own Marc Kushner and Gina Wicker of Sunbrella served as advisers. Each winner will receive $10,000, for a total of $30,000 in cash prizes.

“We are proud to support new thinking on shade design,” said Gina Wicker, creative director for Sunbrella fabrics. “This year’s winning entries show not only how shade protects, but also how it can help tell the story of a space and the people who occupy it.”

After much deliberation, we are excited to announce the winners of the 2015 Future of Shade Competition:

Grand Prize Winner, Building Shade: “Helicon” by Doel Fresse

The project is an exterior fabric sunscreen that helps prevent solar heat gain, a major problem for curtain-wall buildings in tropical regions. The modular, passive solution could be integrated into any building to reduce energy use and thus cooling costs. Sunbrella fabric can be detached from the lightweight aluminum system, making replacement a snap.

Future of Shade: Building Shade Grand Prize from Sunbrella on Vimeo.

“The Helicon project is innovative because of its ability to retrofit a building,” said juror John Gant of Glen Raven, Inc. “They took a large office building with very static glazing and they modernized it in a way that it would become more energy efficient or more comfortable to be in. The innovation of adapting an old building for better performance was unique.”


An Honorable Mention for Building Shade goes to Ekachai Pattamasattayasonthi for “Pixel Cloud.”


Grand Prize Winner, Humanitarian: “The Fold” by Amber LaFontaine and Sophia Yi

This modular emergency shelter system allows refugees — survivors of both natural and manmade disasters — to define the most appropriate shelter for their family. Fabric and corrugated plastic make the structure, the envelope and the furnishings for the the shelter. The Sunbrella Awning Canvas is the perfect roof material, because of its combination of ventilation, natural light, and texture. The simple geometry of “The Fold” allows it to be repeated and expanded as families grow.

“While many of the Humanitarian Category projects think about the technology or the object itself or a deployable pod, they don’t often get at the human aspect of disaster,” explained Kyle Barker of MASS Design Group. “What’s really nice about The Fold is that [that] is where it springs from. So rather than being a technical solution, it’s something that allows families to stay intact.”


An Honorable Mention for Humanitarian goes to Sanna Shah for “NouraSouria”


Grand Prize Winner, Wellness Garden: “Mosque of Light” by Nick Karintzaidis

A flexible building with simple structural steel framing, the “Mosque of Light” is characterized by hanging fabric elements that frame interior volumes. The spaces created allow light to penetrate, acting as a material that defines the spaces. Sunbrella fabric acts as a canvas for the interplay of light and shadow while also allowing ventilation in. The prayer space has vertical light cuts, a reference to Islamic architecture.

“The Mosque of Light is innovative in the fact that it’s a re-rendering of a typological ideal,” said David Rubin of Land Collective, “It doesn’t need to be a mosque; it could be any type of structure that offers enlightenment. There are fundamental ideas about passing through thresholds, changing the human condition that can be understood across cultures and across religions.”


Honorable Mentions for Wellness Garden go to Marino la Torre for “Coraline” (above) and Zejd Kobilica for “Melody of Shadows” (below)


For past Future of Shade competitions, check out the 2013 and 2014 editions.

© William Tozer Associates

Raumplan House // William Tozer Associates

London, United Kingdom

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