2020 SuperStudio National Winner Announced

The national winners of the SONA conceptual design challenge, SuperStudio, have been announced.  Congratulations to Caleb Lee and Nithya Ranasinghe from Victoria for their winning proposal – Ceremonial Shards

At the end of August design students from all over the Australia connected virtually to receive the 2020 SuperStudio brief. The brief was formulated by a team of creative directors including Prof. Cameron Bruhn (Head of School of Architecture at UQ) and Claire Humphreys (Associate, Kerstin Thompson Architects) in collaboration with UQ graduates Kieren Dolores (SONA National Vice President Awards and Prizes) and Hudson Smith.

With this brief we wanted to challenge students to be imaginative, caring, serious-minded and romantic in their response.” Creative Director

Over one week, 138 participants, making up 68 teams worked on their proposals. After presentations in each Chapter, a shortlist of teams progressed to national judging to be considered for the national prize of $3000.

Ceremonial Shards designed by Nithya Ranasinghe and Caleb Lee

Claire Humphreys noted in the state shortlist that the national jury “were particularly excited by the technological inventiveness that had been applied to this idea of empathy – from thinking about our own approach to mortality, through to ways of using light, to considering how ceramics might be affected by a bush fire.”

After deliberations the national jury selected Ceremonial Shards as the winning proposal of 2020 SuperStudio.

The winning team’s proposal was selected particularly because of its success in engaging with a variety of scales from very particular ideas about the domestic through to the local economics, historical threads and the idea of ceremony and all of these were woven together through a really elegant solution that just began with a photo of a man carefully picking up glass from the floor of a mosque in the aftermath of the Beirut blast.” Creative directive team

In total there were 66 volunteers from the architectural community both here in Australia, and overseas, who contributed their time and expertise to help deliver this SuperStudio experience for our SONA members.  

A special thank you to our creative directors, mentors, members of the jury, and design day speakers as well as our wonderful SONA representatives and SONA executive team who together made this competition possible.

Words from the winning team

2020 has been a wild year. However, with the second wave unfolding here Melbourne, we recognised that many others were having it much tougher than we were. Our team immediately recalled the devastating Beirut port explosion in August, streets littered with shattered glass, possessions and paraphernalia strewn on the ground like trash – compounding Lebanon’s waste problem. We critiqued this year’s brief to be respectful of place. In order to be considerate, we strongly believed that we needed to be knowledgeable too. Thus we began the project by questioning the systems, culture, history and how would those indirectly affected resonate with this tragedy?

Under quarantine, the sphere in which we experience space has condensed yet conflated. Objects that surround us suddenly have a profound influence in how we act. Building upon the idea of lost possessions and sustainability, our team was interested in how material transmutation of objects affect our behaviour. What if we woke up and all our possessions were made from glass? Would we value them as much as our memorabilia? What would we be willing to discard?

Those who have been through trauma tend to gravitate towards rituals of consistency and routine, aspects found in religion. Therefore, we believed that a built outcome was not the answer to grief. We saw an opportunity to address Lebanon’s pre-existing problems surrounding waste disposal. Resonating with this year’s theme of ‘renewal’, we sought to propose a gradually dissipating ceremony, in a domestic setting to empathise with those in grief. 

Ceremonial Shards designed by Nithya Ranasinghe and Caleb Lee