Student entries stun organisers of sustainable design challenge

Built environment students have stunned organisers of the Riverside Sunderland University Design Challenge (#RSUDC21) with 16 entries from multidisciplinary teams showcasing low-carbon homes and a neighbourhood of the future.

Sunderland City Council, The Ministry of Building Innovation and Education (MOBIE), and the Timber Development UK (TTF and TRADA) University Engagement Programme launched the competition in February, together with an acclaimed series of webinars on sustainable construction and design.

Since then, more than 200 students from 35+ UK universities have been competing within teams composed of architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, landscape architects, project managers and urban designers – reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of sustainable construction and place making.

#RSUDC21 has become a powerful channel for built environment students to collaborate and share their vision for the future of urban living. Each team has designed a one 3-bed family home in detail, and an indicative masterplan for 100 homes, which includes landscapes and streetscapes with green and open spaces against the backdrop of Riverside Sunderland.

The entries are now being shortlisted, and eight will be chosen to be judged by industry leaders, including Andy von Bradsky, MHCLG’s head of architecture, Mark Farmer, the Government’s Independent MMC Champion and a partner at Cast consultancy, Kelly Harrison, Associate Director of Whitby Wood and TDUK Board Member, and Dr Gemma Jerome, Director, Building with Nature, and Neil Guthrie, who as Development Director of Sunderland City Council represents the client perspective.

In response to the entries, George Clarke, founder of MOBIE said: “Students never fail to amaze me with their imagination, talent and passion, and this competition is providing a critical avenue to inspire young people to help define sustainable homes, and the future of where and how we live. Taking on the climate and housing crises is so incredibly important, and our built environment is key to creating a more sustainable future.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “We’re looking to build truly exemplary homes of the future at Riverside Sunderland, and who better to inspire them than future generations? We’ve been blown away by the ingenuity and innovation we have seen from those who have taken part in this competition and will be drawing inspiration from it as we move forward with our ambitious plans for Riverside Sunderland, our exciting new mixed-use urban quarter.”

TDUK University Engagement Programme manager, Tabitha Binding added: “What these student teams have created in little more than a few months is incredible and provides so much hope for the future of UK construction. These students have taken forward the lessons from the webinars to create low-carbon, homes and neighbourhoods of the future, and built skills which they can undoubtedly take forward well into the future. Our built environment is responsible for around 40% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Through the skillsets these students have developed, they can help decarbonise building by employing low-carbon, sustainable building materials like timber and using modern methods of construction. These 16 entries show the benefits of working together in interdisciplinary teams as we take on the climate challenge.”

These judges will decide the winners of #RSUDC21 on Wednesday 30 June 2021, with the winning entries announced at an awards event that evening – contact if you would like to attend.


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