School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

News Item

Students design "healthy" student accommodation in the annual TRADA University Challenge

The intense two-day challenge took place 8–9 February at the University of Sheffield’s Diamond building

TRADA (Timber Research and Development Association) is an international membership organisation dedicated to inspiring and informing best practice design, specification and use of wood in the built environment and related fields. 

This year's TRADA University Challenge, a high-pressure charrette-styled competition, invited participants to design “healthy” student accommodation, predominantly from timber. The intense two-day challenge took place 8–9 February at the University of Sheffield’s Diamond building. Architects, architectural technologists, engineers, landscape architects and quantity surveying undergraduates from 25 universities split into ten teams of six, competing to see who could design, cost and engineer accommodation that used timber and timber products to emphasise health and well-being, energy efficiency, and building to budget. An existing site in the heart of Sheffield’s shopping district grounded and gave real life constraints to the project brief.

The competition kicked off early Friday morning and continued until Saturday afternoon, during which time students collaborated in designated design teams. Each team included two architects or architectural technologists, two engineers, a landscape architect and a quantity surveyor, none of whom had met before – creating situations and relationships comparable to real world project teams. Teams had open access to the judging panel of pioneering design professionals and knowledgeable industry sponsors, and the University of Sheffield’s exceptional facilities.

When 29 hours were up, #tomorrowstimbertalent teams had 8 minutes to present their designs concisely and elegantly to the expert panel of judges, who were unanimous in naming Team 9 the winners, citing their innovative approach and attention to future adaptability.

Team 9 scooped the top prize of £1200, closely followed by Team 3 in second place and Teams 4 and 7 in third and fourth. Quantity Surveyor student Andy Freeman from Sheffield Hallam University was Highly Commended for impressing Olly Booth and the judging panel with his knowledge, enthusiasm and application.

Tabitha Binding, TRADA’s University Engagement Manager, shared: ‘I am absolutely delighted with all the students who participated in this year’s University Challenge. The degree of imagination that went into each teams’ designs was amazing. The knowledge gained of how and where to use timber and timber products is both practical and useful as students head out into the professional world. The multidisciplinary aspect has given them an understanding of how working holistically is so beneficial to designing, engineering and constructing quality buildings.

'Congratulations to Team 9 for their deserving win, but congratulations also to all sixty students who took part. I would like to thank the University of Sheffield, and our excellent team of hands-on sponsors, judges and ambassadors who worked tirelessly engaging, enthusing and educating. Thank you also to Wood for Good, who provided participants with The Modern Timber House in the UK'.

The runners-up were Team 3, featuring Mateusz Szulca from the School of Engineering at Newcastle University. Oliver Spalton from the School of Engineering took part in Team 8 and Elizaveta Streltsova from the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape took part in Team 2.  

TRADA Charrette competition
Elizaveta Streltsova, Mateusz Szulca and Oliver Spalton representing Newcastle University

published on: 4 March 2019