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City&Country: Student wins European award for ‘Community One’

Terrific and very elegant, an idea that has not been seen before…” — these were how the judges of the European Corus Student Design Awards 2009 described the design of a sustainable urban village by Romulus Sim of Kuching, Sarawak.

Sim, 23, a final-year architectural student at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) in UK, beat off strong competition from students across Europe to scoop the first prize at the annual awards in August with his project entitled “Community One: A vision for sustainable urbanism within a post-industrial city”. He won £5,000 (about RM28,000) as the winner.

Community One
Sim says the project aims to promote autonomous living within the city; hence, it offers suggestions on methods to encourage the growth of self-sustaining communities through symbiotic relationship with urban agriculture and food cultures.

“The resulting design was a proposal for a sustainable urban village, which sought to challenge the way urban dwellers live in the 21st century. Post-industrial sites and brownfields are seen not as ‘left-over’ bits of the city, but as opportunities to develop more compact and sustainable communities,” he tells City & Country in an email interview.

His design features a leisure and community hub which boasts a gym, a shopping district, a hospital, a learning centre, work fields as well as living units — all structured into a sleek, steel skyscraper. Sim drew inspiration from the city of Manchester as well as the Unite d’habitation in Marseilles by Le Corbusier.

“Manchester was the perfect setting for exploring ideas of contemporary urban living because of its post-industrial nature. This inspired an indepth analysis and proposal on how we could build sustainable communities in the 21st century.

“Le Corbusier’s Unite d’habitation in Marseilles (France) sparked interest in the way we design living environments. It was one of the first projects which inspired a paradigm shift in modern living environments where you could live, work and relax in the context of urban regeneration and social well-being. 
‘Community One’ addresses issues facing post-industrial cities, and proposes ways of reducing our carbon footprint and improving our way of life,” he adds.

The Corus Student Design Awards has been organised over the past 21 years by Corus, Europe’s second largest steel producer, to reward architectural excellence among undergraduates and promote professional skills by setting real-life challenges.

The competition brief this year was to create a “Vertical Community” where people can live, work and relax in one building.

Sim was also the winner of the Manchester Society of Architects’ Rossant Award in 2006, which is awarded annually to the best second-year student from MMU, to encourage and reward skill and versatility in draughtsmanship.

In 2007, he was nominated for the Riba (Royal Institute of British Architects)  President’s Medals Award. It aims to promote excellence in the study of architecture, reward talent and encourage architectural debate worldwide.

Sim says he has always wanted to become a qualified architect. He will be graduating next year and moving closer to his dream of making a name for himself in the international architectural arena.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 782, Nov 23 – 29, 2009.

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