The 2019 Essay Prize Competition
An essay contest in Three stages open to all current full-time registered students in an undergraduate architecture degree program, undergraduates majoring in architecture, or diploma students in accredited schools of architecture worldwide. 25,000USD Purse.
The Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Design Excellence endowment was established in the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design to promote the investigation of architecture as a social art. Each year the PRIZE Committee selects a topic important to the understanding of the interaction of people and the built world that becomes the focus of the Essay Competition.
The Committee poses a Question on this website related to the topic. Students enrolled in any accredited undergraduate architecture program or diploma in architecture program throughout the world are invited to submit a 500-word essay proposal in English responding to the Question (see eligibility requirements). Undergraduate architecture students may team up with undergraduates from allied arts and social sciences programs.
From the pool of essay proposals received, approximately 25 are selected by the PRIZE Committee as particularly promising. The selected individual students, or student teams, become Semifinalists.
These Semifinalists are invited to submit a 2,500-word essay, again in English, expanding on their proposals. A group of readers, composed of Committee members and invited colleagues, selects five-to-eight of the best essays and sends these Finalist essays to a jury of international academics and architects to select the winners.
At the conclusion of the Essay Competition submittals, all Semifinalists are also invited to submit for a BERKELEY PRIZE Travel Fellowship. Details for the Fellowship will be announced in the Spring 2019. Past Travel Fellowship Competition requirements, winning submissions, and follow-up reports by the winners are available to read here on the website.
U.C. Berkeley College of Environmental Design
Founded in 1959, Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design was an early reflection of the shift in architectural education during the second half of the 20th century from primarily aesthetic considerations to systematically identifying and studying the relationships between humans and their environment. By combining the decades-old academic programs of architecture, landscape design and urban planning at Berkeley, an entirely different educational focus was created.
An outgrowth of this new approach was the integration of social, behavioral, ecological, and climatic studies and research into the design curriculum. The result was a new all-encompassing discipline that was named Environmental Design. Wurster Hall itself reflects detailed responses to a number of the areas of concern, including the social distribution of spaces, the use of extensive passive sun-control elements, and more rigorous study of the proposed building as part of the total campus plan.
Wurster Hall was named after the husband and wife team of William Wurster and Catherine Bauer Wurster. William Wurster was head of the School of Architecture and then the first Dean of the CED. Catherine Bauer Wurster was a nationally-recognized housing expert and later Professor of City and Regional Planning at CED. Both played significant roles in the founding of the new college.
Blocked drains, Almora, India, 2017. Highlighting the problem of waste management and a potential threat in case of excessive rainfall. Photo credit: Neelakshi Joshi
The Bullitt Center, Seattle, USA., 2013. The Bullitt Center is one of the greenest commercial buildings in the world. It is also the first urban infill projects to pursue and to receive a "Living Building" certification from the Interational Living Future Institute. The roof "prow" allows for an extended array of photovoltaic panels allowing the building to produce more electricity then it uses. Architect: Miller Hull. Photo credit: Brad Kahn ( http://www.bullittcenter.org/; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullitt_Center)
The Bullitt Center, Seattle, USA. Designed to have a 250-year lifespan, the building was also constucted without the use of common toxic building materials. It was the first mass timber building constructed in Seattle in 80 years. Photo credit: Brad Kahn (http://www.bullittcenter.org/; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullitt_Center)
The Bullitt Center, Seattle, USA. The rooftop solar panel array. The building also features an onsite rainwater-to-potable water system, an onsite composting toilet system, and 26 geothermal wells extending 120 m (400 feet) into he ground that help heat the building in the winter and cool it in summer. Photo credit: Brad Kahn (http://www.bullittcenter.org/; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullitt_Center)
Soso House, Leh, India. Designed and built by: Sonam Wangchuck and Neelakshi Joshi, 2016. Combining local earth and solar resources to address housing needs in a cold desert region. Photo credit: Neelakshi Joshi.
Flux.Land is a geospatial risk and planning platform developed for Broward County, Florida by the University of Toronto's Daniels Faculty + MIT Urban Risk Lab. The Platform helps visualize various distinct elements of the built and natural environment, land use code and policy, in relation to climate risk and vulnerabilities. Image courtesy of Fadi Masoud. (https://www.urbanrisklab.org/fluxlad/)
Flux.Land, Broward County, Florida, USA. "Our goal is to design and develop a web-based tool for Broward County to understand the potential adaptability of the urban fabric to manage the dynamic hydrological condition in the face of increased vulnerability due to climate change." Image courtesy of Fadi Masoud. (https://www.urbanrisklab.org/fluxlad/)
Housing Project, Auroville, India. Building designed and built by: Auroville Earth Institute, 2012. A 17-unit housing project built using compressed earth blocks. An example of low cost and low carbon footprint housing. Photo credit: Neelakshi Joshi
The Floating Village, Kompong Khleang, Cambodia. This village is a striking example of vernacular flood adaptation, and potentially a model for low-lying areas where climate change is resulting in increased flooding. Photo credit: Yohann Legrand. (http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20150915-where-houses-are-designed-to-float)
The Floating Village, Kompong Khleang, Cambodia. This fishing village sits on the Tonle Sap Lake that historically rises as much as five-fold during the rainy season. Houses are built both on stilts and as floating habitats. Photo credit: Yohann Legrand. (http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20150915-where-houses-are-designed-to-float)
Old City of Shibam, Yemen. This 16th century city of towers in the Wadi is an outstanding example of density and natural climate control. The city is on the United Nations World Heritage Danger List. Built of mud and located in a flood prone area, the city "remains at severe risk of major damage unless necessary preventive measures are taken...[involving] the conservation and use of Shibam oases, which are considered as the buffer zone of the property." Photo credit: Will De Freitas. (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/192)
Old City of Shibam, Yemen. From the World Heritage listing: "Abandonment of the old agricultural flood management system in the wadi, the overloading of the traditional sanitary systems by the introduction of modern water supply combined with inadequate drainage, together with changes in the livestock management have all contributed to the decay of the city." Photo credit: Twiga_Swala
Water Tank, Rweru Green Village, Rwanda, 2016. Rwanda's Green Fund invested in Rweru Green Village by providing water tanks, including this one which is connected to mains water to serve the community in times of drought. Photo Credit: Rwanda Green. (http://www.fonerwa.org/)
Boston’s Resiliency Districts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism at MIT introduced a working concept of “resilient districts” for urban areas that are vulnerable to climate impacts. Resilient Districts include four central tenets 1) protecting critical infrastructure, 2) thickening regional soft systems, 3) transferring density to less vulnerable areas, and 4) encouraging landscape-based land uses in low laying areas. Image courtesy of Fadi Masoud. (http://lcau.mit.edu/)
Shallow Dome Residence, Kalyani (near Kolkata), India. Designed by: Laurent Fournier. This is a unique example where a formal architectural project has incorporated incredible innovations taking place outside the professional world to help improve environmental performance of formal construction industry. "Shallow dome roofing" developed by informal masons from a village in northern India have made it possible to reduce use of steel and cement in building construction lowering its carbon footprint. Photo credit: Avikal Somvanshi
Rainwater tank, Jalna, India. Designed by and built by: Neelakshi Joshi, 2018. Preparing for water variability by enabling houses to be water sufficient. Photo credit: Neelakshi Joshi.
Ladder House, Auroville, India. Designed and built by: Avikal Somvanshi and Manu Gopalan, 2012. A fast-track eco-friendly dis-mountable housing prototype that can be used to provide semi-temporary housing post-natural disaster in tropical regions. Built by unskilled volunteers using bamboo ladders, coconut-coir ropes and recycled tetrapak sheets on a retired tracker-trolley the structure has been use since. Photo credit: Avikal Somvanshi.
Bing Image Search: "Climate resilient architecture"
Hunnarshala Foundation Office, Bhuj, Gujarat, India. Designed and built by: Sandeep Virmani and Kiran Vaghela. The campus is living laboratory of innovation and experiments with traditional building techniques and modern lifestyle requirements. The campus is splattered with examples how age-old construction practices can be brought to speed and help address the resource and resilience issues especially in rural areas. Photo credit: Avikal Somvanshi.
Understanding community perceptions and preparations for a variable climate, 2017. Fieldwork conducted in emergent urban settlements of the Himalayas. Photo credit: Neelakshi Joshi.
Google Image Search: "Architecture and climate resistant buildings"
Condominium 1 at the Sea Ranch, California, USA. Designed by: Donlyn Lyndon,. A wind-protected courtyard. Photo credit: Donlyn Lyndon.
The Bowsprit House at the Sea Ranch, CA, USA. Designed by: Donlyn Lyndon FAIA, with Tomas Frank and Associates, Architects. Wind-sheltered courtyard with tower to gather light into the rooms of the house from all directions, and shading for south facing windows in the living spaces. Photo credit: Donlyn Lyndon.
Flickr Image Search: "Climate resilient architecture"