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Olson Kundig wins 2016 Blank Space ‘Fairy Tales’ Competition

Italy - Apr 6, 2016 - 12:08   4140 views

1st prize winner: The Fifth Facade -Olson Kundig - Alan Maskin, Jerome Tryon, Kevin Scott, Gabriela Frank & Katie Miller.

They say third time’s a charm. Blank Space is thrilled to announce the winners of the third annual Fairy Tales competition, the most competitive edition of the contest yet, with over 1,500 participants. Entrants from 67 countries around the world answered the brief that invited designers to put pen and pencil to paper, writing stories as well as crafting visuals for their submissions. The winners were chosen by an interdisciplinary jury that included: Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director of the Serpentine Galleries; Elizabeth Diller, Founding Partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro; and Aaron Betsky, Dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, among many other distinguished judges.

The Fairy Tales challenge has attracted students, brand-name studios and notable academics alike, including a First Prize Winner for 2016 that testifies to the pervasiveness of Blank Space’s novel creative provocations. The jury selected three prize winners along with 10 honorable mentions:

First Prize goes to Olson Kundig - Alan Maskin, Jerome Tryon, Kevin Scott, Gabriela Frank & Katie Miller, the Seattle-based firm founded in 1966 and winner of the 2009 National AIA Architecture Firm Award for their story titled “Welcome to the 5th Facade”. The team, led by Principal Alan Maskin, crafted a beautifully rendered story that launches us headlong into the future - a future that is similar enough to our own, yet ripe with new challenges, opportunities, and issues. 

“Our Fairy Tales 2016 submittal became a tangential detour from Olson Kundig's ongoing investigation into urban rooftops, the largely neglected uppermost layer of cities. The idea of applying a narrative filter - to both built and conceptual projects - became another way to look at and critique design ideas. "Welcome To The 5th Facade" used science fiction as it is traditionally used - as a modality to visualize and imagine a particular future in terms of both the pitfalls and the potential'' said Alan Maskin, Principal at Olson Kundig.

My cryonic technician described what had happened:

“A myocardial infarction began midway through Act 1 of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge at the Phoenix Playhouse. Although cardiopulmonary support kept your heart pumping for the 30 minute ambulance drive, you were pronounced dead upon arrival. The stainless steel bracelet on your left wrist was inscribed with CRYONIC ALERT. The card in your wallet outlined medical protocols which, in turn, triggered your immediate transfer to the Al-Cryo Life Extension Foundation.”

 “Your naked body was submerged in an ice bath. Profusion – the process of removing the blood from your body – commenced, and your blood was replaced with a non-toxic solution that preserves cells when they freeze.”....Continue Reading


2nd Place: Hagai Ben Naim

Second Prize goes to Hagai Ben Naim, an architecture student, originally from Jerusalem, who deftly leverages satire in “Parisian Lullaby” to address the current climate in Paris and how recent events have affected policy, park space, and the public domain. “Parisian Lullaby is the product of a personal encounter with the urban space and political climate of contemporary Paris, and was triggered by the recent heartbreaking events that took place in the city. The Parisian municipal obsession with governing and ordering life in the public domain gave birth to a series of regulations regarding preservation, maintenance and security. Some of these rules, such as the Second Empire requirement to close public parks at nightfall, date back to the nineteenth century. Through a satirical reworking of the master plan for the new Clichy Batignolles district, Parisian Lullaby raises the question of the relevance of these anachronistic municipal regulations in contemporary Paris. It opens a Pandora’s box of cultural critique that unleashes fundamental interrogations related to space and identity, freedom, prejudice, cultural dogma and hypocrisy'' said Hagai Ben Naim.

Parisian Lullaby

Past the Eiffel tower and across the Seine, the new master plan of Clichy Batignolles is being built. It’s so new you won’t even recognize that it’s Paris. New buildings, new roads, new functions, new everything. No Haussmann, that’s for sure! The real jewel of the whole project is its central park. Enormous in size, it’s the beating heart of this newly planned territory. Apart from being so well-planned, a great location for kids and a heaven for joggers, this park is a major part of the neighborhood’s infrastructure: it’s the main circulation axis from north to south. It’s a life line. It’s the spatial incarnation of the freedom of movement. Its value is immeasurable. Neighborhood residents are so lucky to have this park and yet… mysteriously… they close it up every evening at twilight until the strike of dawn, like every other park in Paris. Isn’t that peculiar? Well, the local planning agency tries to sell this story that it’s because of security issues, but actually it’s a bit more than just a “security issue”......Continue Reading


3rd Place: Kobi Logendrarajah

Third Prize goes to Kobi Logendrarajah, an architecture student at the University of Waterloo, for “12 Nautical Miles”, an imaginative story that explores how architecture might be created, leveraged, traded, and grown in a literal no-man's-land. “The spark behind the story was inspired by an anime I used to watch back in the day called Black Lagoon that was based on a fictitious island neighboring Thailand. The island was home to many of the world's outcasts, ranging from pirates to deserting soldiers from the Vietnam War. I honed the idea of a place of refuge and expanded it to include a place that escapes the eye of any government, where one can practice their full liberties as they seem fit. I wanted architecture to respond to this social structure and I spawned a scenario that touches upon some of the similar issues that we face today. How we claim that a land is ours, who's allowed to be apart of it, and who was here first were all questions I wanted people to think about deeply about'' said Kobi Logendrarajah.

High Seas


My father sailed to Barena on a billboard with nothing more than the clothes on his back and a sack of second-hand electronics. Yeah that’s right- he modified a dismantled Malaysian billboard into a raft and wound up a few hundred miles east of the Philippines. It was there where he was greeted by an anonymous silhouette of an offshore oil platform, who we would soon call Barena. My father met this abandoned oil rig during its repurposing into an “off-the-grid” marketplace. It served as a hub for cheap illegal trading in the South China Sea. The unidentified oil rig was stationed in international waters, away from the jurisdictions of countries that would seek to confiscate or end these dealings. This allowed people from all over Southeast Asia to illegally buy and sell cheap merchandise under the radar, propelling Barena to be one of the busiest black markets. That’s where my father comes in......Continue Reading 

The Jury awarded 10 honorable mentions: Sean Cottengim & Alex Gormley; Scott Lindberg & Katherine Nesse; Rubin Quarcoopome; Liao Hung Kai & Huang Hsiao Rou; Patch Dobson-Pérez; Nicola Chan, Nikolas Kourtis & Pui Quan Choi; Kostis Ktistakis; Will Fu; Mark Morris & Neil Spiller; and Olalekan Jeyifous.

Receiving so many stories from the best and the brightest in the creative field is one of the most exciting aspects about hosting Fairy Tales. 

“Those who submitted to the competition are not only impressively talented, they are courageous innovators that have pushed the envelope of architecture as we know it. These are the most important topics for architecture to address, and they have the power to reshape the business of architecture, its priorities, and its future direction'' said Blank Space founders, Matthew Hoffman and Francesca Giuliani.


Honorable Mention: On The Road by Kostis Ktistakis

Some of the vehicles that had joined the caravan back in V. had apparently broken away together with some older co-travelers. “Might they have settled at X. or perhaps gone north? So much is being said about the North lately”, M. thought. “Well, that’s that”, he whispered and turned to his side looking for a more comfortable position in his hammock......Continue Reading


Honorable Mention: Bodies In Digital Systems by Will Fu

My encounters are not a mere fantasy, but an account of a vision of bodies from a dream of my sublime interior. As I wander window to window, tab to tab, my digital extensions are in action, structured linearly, housed in platforms with inherent intentions for a specific interaction. The platforms set regimes for a mechanized static set of social interactions. Forms reflect the interface of these social exchanges, marking a clear poché of a virtual city of electronic bodies......Continue Reading


Honorabel Mention: Ink-Soaked Boy by Mark Morris & Neil Spiller

The following poetic fairytale is here printed at the request of an architect of some renown, and, as far as the poet’s own thoughts on the matter are considered, rather as a curiosity, than on the basis of the craft of his words. In the Fall of 2015, the poet, then in fragile health, had escaped the chaos of Upstate New York in favor of the calm of Harlem, retiring to a friend’s apartment on West 151st Street. Owing to a lingering cold or flu, a bottle of green medicine had been downed, the drowsy effects of which caused him to fall asleep, just as he was reading the following lines.....Continue Reading


Honorable Mention: Malthusian Curve Program – Love Is To Die by Liao Hung Kai & Huang Hsiao Rou

I was born in a time where the only thing worth a true celebration is to die. My very first memory was at the platform the day my great-grandpa, Alexander, “REturn-ed.” It was a joyful day with a hint of sadness. Before Alexander’s departure, he handed me a sealed envelope and told me to open the envelope only after my great-grandson is born, and to make sure passing this envelope to him at my own REturn. For the past 150 years that I have lived, this envelope remained the biggest mystery of all. And it marks the beginning for me to learn about the program, the world, and the time we are living in.....Continue Reading


Honorable Mention: Toll by Sean Cottengim & Alex Gormley

Once upon a time, a rather peculiar child was born. It wasn’t a baby boy, or a baby girl, or even a little puppy. It was a tollbooth. This little building came humbly into the world. There was no silver spoon from a signature architect parent, and there was little celebration of its arrival, aside from a handful of toll booth workers happy to have a place to sit. It was simply a tollbooth. Though a valuable building – useful in the busy, high-traffic, motorway system – and sturdy, with decent proportions and a pretty snazzy blue color; it was of sheer practical use. It had no spatial quality to speak of and was in no way glamorous. The building’s proportions were fair, but its details were poor and it was made of lowly materials. Its acrylic glazing was already scuffed and hazy......Continue Reading


Honorable Mention: The Block Party by Scott Lindberg & Katherine Nesse

School’s out! Freedom for small Vera Lee. Her bag skids across the Formica counter as she sheds her burdens and reaches for a glass in one movement. The water sparkles in the red plastic, reflecting the deep blue autumn sky. “To the park!” cry her feet. They skip down the hall over the brown and patchy carpet. A hop and arabesque, Vera presses the elevator button (down!) with her nose. Across the lobby she slams open the front door. Her eyes are assaulted with sunshine and a piercing glint off the sidewalk. Her fingers create a lattice across her eyes and, suitably shielded from the brilliance, she bends toward the gum-marked concrete......Continue Reading


Honorable Mention: Honey Street by Rubin Quarcoopome

Many years ago, far away in the small town of Onsted, Michigan, the board of the famed honey packer Groeb Farms, huddled together to come up with a new, inventive initiative. They racked their brains for weeks on end, struggling to materialize an unprecedented vessel for their sweet product. Eventually, the youngest member of the board, 76-year old Percy McAllister, uttered one simple, brilliant phrase: “Honey Street”. The next several months were a mad rush of inspired planning and organization. Before long, Detroit’s Highland Park area was home to the initiative, and for a while, all seemed well......Continue Reading


Honorable Mention: +Z by Patch Dobson-Perez

Imagine a perfect world. Free from the risk of human decision, calculated absolutely by one objective mind and constructed by a million unquestioning components. Smooth, efficient, wasteless; a completely formulaic method of design and construction. A perpetually self-building world in which day and night no longer impact work-hours, in which builders never sleep. In this world there is a single substrate, fully calculated and controlled by the omnipotent system, adaptable to many climates and conditions.  This is a world of concrete......Continue Reading


Honorable Mention: Software Version v.5.1 by Nicola Chan, Nikolas Kourtis & Pui Quan Choi

Panopticon:-Interrogation Room, 02:53 pm

#052815, a half-dedicated POPROCKET ink attendant is fidgeting nervously in his chair, eyes wide, looking at the floor trying to hide from the glare of the lamp.


#052815, where were you at 08:47am this morning, during the time of the first incident?


I was in bed…Sir......Continue Reading

The winning entries, along with the honorable mentions and other notable submissions, will be featured in the third volume of Fairy Tales: When Architecture Tells a Story. The anthology will give readers the opportunity to experience first hand what happens when creatives tell a story. The book layout is designed by Bruce Mau Design, with a special cover by Spanish artist Vicente Garcia-Morillo.

Copies will ship in July, and are available for pre-order at a discounted price of $15 here.

all images courtesy of Blank Space

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