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Student Award winner, James Young

The winner of the 2013 Sleep ReardonSmith Student Award was revealed last month at the European Hotel Design Awards in London before an audience of some 900 people. He is James Young, a fourth-year student studying for his Masters in Architecture at the Canterbury School of Architecture. For the second year running, ReardonSmith Architects joined forces with Sleep to create the competition.

Open to all students undertaking a full-time architectural or interior design course in Europe, this year’s competition was given the brief to masterplan a new luxury hotel and residential marina development on the Southern Adriatic coast. The brief was intentionally left loose so that students could demonstrate their creative skills. However, certain planning restrictions were applied to encourage the competitors to balance the novel with the real and, through this process, develop a meaningful result. Patrick Reardon, Executive Chairman of ReardonSmith says: “Our aim is to inspire today’s budding talent to think seriously about the design of hotels and resorts, which is an economically and culturally significant sector, while having fun. When we launched a European Hotel Design Award for students years ago and then re-introduced it in collaboration with Sleep in 2012, it was because we wanted to encourage young, hard-working and gifted people to feel inspired to take up a career in hotel design.

James’ submission stood out for its sensitive interpretation of the brief and also for its regard toward the surrounding landscape, cleverly merging the development into the topography of the land.” Each contender was charged with creating a masterplan for a 120-guestroom luxury resort hotel on a 56,000 m2 site forming a small peninsula with beach coves to either side. The resort was to include a variety of suites, multiple food and beverage facilities, a destination spa, retail shops along the marina, and residential accommodation consisting of 20 private villas and 20 apartments. James’ winning response questions the conventional luxury holiday resort and in turn the concept of a holiday itself given the Western world’s current economic climate and increased socio-economic consciousness. Using the concept of “Agri-Tourism”, his masterplan creates a heightened sense of locality and interaction by inviting guests to holiday within an Adriatic community and be educated in the art of agriculture and farming. The resort is embedded within a productive landscape whose terraced design stems from the topography of the site, and its hotel, private villas and apartments benefit from rooftop planting. In addition, the instructors would farm the land year ‘round and live in the resort community so that the resort’s architecture becomes a catalyst for interaction as well as a social commentary on how the hotel industry can further strengthen the notion of locality.

“Winning the Sleep ReardonSmith student award, as well as being a great honour, has also reassured me that movement outside of my comfort zone is a great way to discover my own abilities”, says James about his participation in the competition. “It’s great to have my work recognised by a leader in the field of hotel design, making all of the long hours drawing, designing and re-drawing worth it! Hotel design is a field within architecture of increasing interest to me as a student, due to its dynamic nature and parallels between to social and economic development. The most exciting realised, conceptual and thought-provoking designs often derive from hotel schemes.” John Bell, Course Leader for the Master of Architecture programme at James’ university, comments: “This first year of UCA Canterbury School of Architecture's taking part in the Sleep ReardonSmith Student Award has been a great success. We set the competition as the initial design project of the year for our MArch students who engaged enthusiastically with the challenging agenda. We felt the balance of constraints and opportunities for creative expression gave a good sense of a "real world" brief, which in itself will be of value to our students. At CSA, we are always looking for ways to extend the student experience into the professional realm. The Sleep ReardonSmith Student Award provides a significant contribution in this regard. We are very pleased to have been involved with the award and are of course very proud of this year's winner, James Young.”

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