Fourth-year architecture student Ryan Hung V. Nguyen won the Honor Award at this year's 2x8:Exchange, the annual student exhibition and scholarship fundraiser hosted by the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Nguyen's entry housEMOJI captured first place, besting 31 other submissions by the state's top architecture students from 15 architecture programs.
The exhibition debuted on May 8 at the Helms Design Center in Culver City. New this year was a virtual reality component, incorporated into the traditional gallery setting that enabled this year's program to feature a physical gallery and virtual reality gallery to celebrate the architecture profession's interdisciplinary and digital future. Also displayed were students' process work, demonstrating the non-linear and often messy design process. The program included a zero-waste component: materials used for its construction will be reused by community educational groups. Frank Clementi, a lecturer in the Department of Architecture, also showcased his fall studio work in this public event space.
"We appreciate the careful look at the vernacular of a gable roof house typology and how complex the interactions of space have been evolved through a re-look at this common typology," said AIA 2x8 co-vice chair Kirill Volchinskiy ('17, architecture), a designer with STIR Architecture. "It has offered a complexity that adds enough interest in special conditions to an otherwise very simple program."
Nguyen's award came with a $5,000 scholarship, which is restricted for academic use. He said he plans to apply most of it towards tuition "since it is very expensive for an international student like me," and the rest for books. His award-winning entry re-evaluated the gable roof, one of the most used and recognizable forms in residential architecture. In his project, Nguyen transformed the gable "from a singular form with a singular interior geometry, into one where the interior geometry adjusts to the program in order to create a more spatially varied interior under a gable roof." The project was located on a walk street in Venice Beach.
"In terms of the inspiration of design, I owe all of the knowledge to the amazing faculty of Cal Poly Pomona," Nguyen said. "From this knowledge, for every project, I will identify the bigger problems, either formal or social. Then through a careful and selective design process, I explore and come up with some solutions. Making models is my most favorite design method because forms and relationships can be reviewed and read differently by every critic. Hence, I can learn to critique my project from other points of views and revise it every week. Fortunately, professors and classmates always help me a lot also. In addition, the love for architecture and eager to learn also provide a great spirit to pursue this challenging field."
Looking ahead at his final year in the undergraduate architecture program, Nguyen said he is eager to work on his senior project.
"I intend to put my best effort to accumulate all the knowledge and inspiration thus far in my educational career," he said. "Hopefully, it will turn out to be good senior project! After that, I want to work in the field for awhile, then will apply for a master's degree. Then, I will come back to Vietnam, working, teaching and inspiring the Vietnamese architecture scene. Big dream, but I am trying everyday."
Below is an excerpt from Nguyen's houEMOJI project description:
In the age of 'instagrammable architecture,' this project attempts to challenge the idea that the iconographic form (in this case the gable roof) is primarily useful as a shape, showing instead how a shape can be shaped in unexpected ways by the building's program. The narrative drawings for the project illustrrate the complex and contradictory relationship between the exterior imagery of the 'house' and the world outside, and the varied experiences and emotions that are produced by the familial relationships inside.