Engineering student wins prestigious prize

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02 Aug 2016

A lack of sleep, a bright idea and hard work paid off for second year Ara Engineering student Kha Pham Nguyen. Kha and his team won the CCANZ and BRANZ Architecture Engineering Building competition in Auckland. 

Along with 30 other New Zealand students, in groups of three, they had to create an architectural design. 

"We were all randomly put into teams with one student from each discipline. I worked with a UNITEC Architecture Master student and a Victoria University Building Science Master student," Kha said.

The yearly competition aims to bring together the best architecture, engineering and building students, to experience the value of cross disciplinary collaboration. The teams had to design a co-housing solution for four baby boomer families.

"Our design is called Sunset Boulevard and was inspired by the movie of the same name. The building has up to 10 apartments and shared community spaces. We came up with an affordable design with high cost efficiency over the construction period and throughout the life span of the building."

building design

The winning design: Sunset Boulevard.

Kha and his team had only 50 hours to complete the design and present it to the seven industry judges. The short time span and working with people he just met didn't always make it easy.

"It was quite intense but fun at the same time. We only slept three hours a night, we sometimes disagreed, but learned a lot from each other"

Kha provided the engineering side for the team, but found himself doing a wide range of tasks.

"I believe it was an advantage coming from Ara. As an Ara student, I was equipped with drawing skills and knew how to take a practical approach to the brief.  Everyone's work was of high quality and we were all amazed with what we could produce together in two days."

The team walked home with $7500 dollar. Kha will use a part of his share to organise a Bake and Sale for Engineers without Borders, to raise money for Wawan Villages water supply project in Ambrym.