Architect's big idea wins him £4,000 creativity prize


A De Montfort University (DMU) student’s idea for a project that would bring together emerging technologies and traditional ideas about architecture and design has won him a £4,000 prize.

Mark Sykes, who has just completed a degree in architecture, came up with a proposal to create an education centre for open source design at an abandoned Cold War spy station near Berlin.

Judges of DMU’s Creative Thinking Awards – an annual competition that highlights the ingenuity of the university’s students and graduates – presented him with his prize at an awards ceremony on Friday (20 July).

“The emergence of technologies such as 3D printing has the potential to change the way we design, manufacture and distribute physical objects,” said Mark, 27, who’s from Sydney, Australia.

“What needs to take place is a conversation about how this new technology, and the principles of open source design, will affect the architectural design process.

“My proposal for a Faculty for Open Source Architecture would provide a physical location – at a former US spy station – where these ideas could be explored by architects, designers and members of the public.”

Also impressing the judges were Laura Kettle, 24, and 26-year-old Luke Snow – both from Leicestershire – whose ideas have each won them £2,000.

Laura’s submission described her proposal for Cinema.r – an idea that uses the latest augmented reality technology to transform the experience for cinema-goers.

“I wanted to make cinema special again, like it was in the 1930s,” said interior design graduate Laura, who earlier this month won the prestigious New Designers IDA Gensler Award 2012.

“My idea uses augmented reality technology to raise expectations and excitement levels as soon as you arrive at the cinema – giving you a fully immersive experience before the film has even begun.”

Luke’s idea was an integrated design project that aims to create a ‘carbon negative Britain’.

His proposal uses a process called pyrolysis to generate energy and fertiliser from waste that’s been diverted from landfill sites.

“Pyrolysis heats waste in the absence of oxygen to produce biofuels and biochar,” said Luke, who has just completed his MA in architecture.

“The biofuels are used to run Combined Heat and Power (CHP) units, generating electricity and hot water for the local community – while the biochar output is used as fertiliser for growing new bio-crops.

“This permanently extracts carbon from the waste, which would otherwise be released during decomposition in landfill sites, making the whole process carbon negative.”

Music, Technology and Innovation graduate, James Joslin from Brighton, was also commended by the judges for his Clockwork Etudes 1-8 – an installation that seeks to alter the perception of time through music.

DMU’s Creative Thinking Awards are sponsored by Toby Moores – the owner and CEO of content and licensing business Sleepydog Ltd – who launched the scheme four years ago to help encourage and reward innovation at the university.

“What we look for each year are the ideas that are a little bit different – and that make us sit up and take notice,” said Toby, who has an honorary doctorate in technology from DMU.

“All of our winners did just that, but Mark’s idea encapsulates what this competition is all about.

“What he did was to spot a trend and describe where it was likely to go.

“When a respected senior academic on the judging panel sits up and goes ‘wow!’, we know we’ve found what we’re looking for.”

Joining Toby Moores on the judging panel was director of DMU’s Institute of Creative Technologies, Professor Andrew Hugill.

“The Creative Thinking Awards are designed to encourage original and innovative ideas that often stand at a slight angle to the mainstream,” he said.

“This year's winners are excellent examples of the kind of lateral thinking that we try to encourage through the awards. The winning idea had a quirky yet challenging quality that the judges found irresistible. Likewise, the other entries all, in their different ways, diverged from the predictable path and consequently crossed disciplines and orthodoxies to strong effect.”


Photo caption: (L-R) Laura Kettle; Mark Sykes; Luke Snow; James Joslin

Posted on Monday 23rd July 2012

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