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University of Gloucestershire student wins TRADA University Challenge 2020

​A University of Gloucestershire student, Kat Cookes, has scooped first prize for her unique environmentally friendly housing design at the TRADA University Challenge 2020, in a team with six students from other universities across the country.​

The competition saw students from universities across the UK gather at Cardiff University to compete to design, cost and engineer the best low carbon, energy and water efficient community housing in less than 48 hours.

A brief given by Wales & West Housing Association for a large rural site at Narbeth, laid out real-life constraints for the students to address and design to. 

The brief, which included a combination of homes for social rent, low-cost home ownership and open market, required low or zero carbon buildings with a fabric-first approach, sensitive place-making and a hub around which a community could be created.​ 

Each team consisted of student engineers, architects, architectural technologists, quantity surveyors and landscape architects, and received hands-on support from pioneering design professionals and industry members, including judges from Mikhail Riches, Cullinan Studio, Stride Treglown, Ramboll, BuroHappold, Entuitive, Gardiner & Theobald and PLAN:design. 

​All six teammates contributed their win to an excellent team dynamic in which the four disciplines harmonised towards a common vision, resulting in a finished design which emphasised community, green space, and minimalist design. 

The panel of judges were unanimous in their decision to award the team top prize. Several commented on the team’s brilliant model, which they used to demonstrate a great lighting strategy during their 10-minute presentation; the in-depth, landscape-first approach which integrated allotments and swales; and the team’s strong technical analysis that revealed an excellent understanding of the client’s brief. 

Tabitha Binding, Manager of the University Engagement Programme at TRADA, said:
“It is always an honour to organise the annual TRADA University Challenge. Each year I am delighted to witness first-hand the dedication and passion of everyone involved. The judges were amazed at how individuals from different universities and disciplines came together to form cohesive design teams in such a short space of time. Congratulations must be given to the winners and runners-up – their hard work and vision resulted in thoughtful and environmentally friendly timber-based designs, which we so currently need. Thanks to our sponsors, supporters, and Cardiff hosts for helping make the TRADA University Challenge 2020 a huge success.”