Universal Utilitarian's Designs

Lara Bandoni, design assistant and Thomas Lund, technologist, discuss being part of the winning team in the annual Ryder Architecture student design competition.  The competition spans over three days and is open to all graduates and assistants in the practice. 

It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for us all, providing a great opportunity to really get to know one another and meet people from across all of our office locations.  Each individual in the team was able to share different ideas and strengths, all contributing to the final outcome.

The competition brief focussed on a fascinating and thought provoking objective centred around universal living and exploring the possibilities of breaking down housing stereotypes in the future.  This topic certainly raised many new ideas about how to create a housing typology suitable for all, no matter what the age demographic or purpose of the space required.  

From left to right: Georgi Georgiev, Lara Bandoni, Shirley Wong, Thomas Lund, and senior partner, Peter Buchan

Through vast drawings and discussions, our team eventually reached a solution which we felt met all the overall objectives.  Our final design consisted of housing units which can be vertically extended and reduced without major reconfiguration through a fixed stair and service core which allows both communal or private access.  This would provide occupiers the opportunity to live in one dwelling which can easily adapt as family numbers grow or reduce.  Our scheme also aimed to promote communal living to prevent isolation, particularly for the elderly.  

Our design included a rooftop hydroponic garden which would provide planting space for the community to grow their own produce to be used in the central core kitchen, providing a communal dining space.  The communal area also offers space for pop up events and activities. 

Winner 3 - Copy

The winning design

The competition was intense - requiring hard work and focus to complete the project in 48 hours.  Working efficiently as a team ensured everything come together on time and we were ready to present to the judging panel which included Peter Buchan, senior partner and David McMahon, associate at Ryder.

Our strategy and design developed over the first two days and many iterations were made in order to produce a design the whole team agreed with. Once we had all come to a decision on the concept and design, we were able to utilise everyone’s skills in order to work together as quickly and efficiently as possible.


The responses from the four teams were all really dynamic and engaging – delivering some thoughtful and beautifully presented concept proposals.  As the icing on the cake, our team, Universal Utilitarian’s, (also including Georgi Georgiev and Shirley Wong) were announced as the winning team. 

After each team presented, it was interesting to then relate our proposals to the current project situated on the same site, led by David McMahon in London.  The student design competition was a great opportunity to meet and work collaboratively with others and we all had great fun doing so!

For more information contact info@ryderarchitecture.com