Ventanilla House wins 7th annual SterlingOSB Zero/RIBAJ competition

Now in its seventh year, the hugely popular RIBAJ/Norbord Europe (now part of West Fraser) competition is designed to encourage architects to push the creative boundaries when considering the use of SterlingOSB Zero. The competition, where the winners enjoy cash prizes, industry acknowledgment, and much coverage in media channels, has seen some incredibly innovative creations in its time; each year poses a different challenge which is designed to reflect real-life topics in the architectural world.

The 2021 challenge, named “Off Grid 2030”, saw RIBAJ asking entrants to design a family home of no more than 200m² GIA that adheres to the RIBA’s 2030 Climate Challenge principles.  SterlingOSB Zero was to form the mainstay of the material’s palette, and designs had to look at the board’s capabilities, limitations and intrinsic properties.  The home could accommodate either single or extended families in urban or rural contexts while attempting to meet the demands of the 2030 Climate Challenge, such as minimal operational energy use and water consumption, non-reliance on fossil fuels, limited waste, and offset residual carbon emissions

The 2021 winner is Kevin Sulca’s Ventanilla House – a modular solution to the unique challenges of living in Lima, Peru – only narrowly beating Rob Hilton of Hilton Barnfield Architects’ Naturehaus to the top spot.  Sulca’s design was praised for its compactness, scalability and polemical stance against the poor living conditions ofVentanilla’s inhabitants, given the district’s humidity, precarious housing and lack of green space.

David Connacher, marketing manager of Norbord Europe, praised the way that “it fit the brief in terms of different generations comfortably living in the same house”, while RIBA Journal’s deputy editor, Jan-Carlos Kucharek, described it as a “simple but tangible, robust proposal”.  In particular, its provision of housing to people across the social spectrum was commendable.  “Different levels of society could live in these houses”, applauded judge Kristofer Adelaide, architectural director of KA-A.

Close runner-up, Naturehaus, was universally described as ‘beautiful’ by the agonised judges. “Naturehaus has a large footprint and we are trying to push compactness”, conceded Kucharek eventually, referring to the size of the plan. “But this doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a very strong concept and, as a proposition, it is really considered”. Recognising its inclusion of a huge range of sustainability measures, both in construction and operation, Adelaide aptly described Hilton’s proposal as “a breath of fresh air”.

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