Conestoga news

December 14, 2020 2:19 PM

Interior design students win industry competition

Two teams of Conestoga students in the Bachelor of Interior Design (BID) program took top honours in the 2020 Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) Student Design Competition.

Conestoga College_Oko Community Centre_Braga Lorentz.jpg
Bachelor of Interior Design students took top honours in the 2020 Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) Student Design Competition. Fourth-year students Hope Braga and Leah Lorentz were awarded first place for their Oko Community Centre design.

Hosted annually by the Grand Valley and Toronto CSC chapters, the competition is open to post-secondary students in Ontario interested in construction-related activities. Collaborating with industry partners, each year presents a unique challenge aligned with design studio curriculum and a site of significant historic, architectural or community interest. The 2020 competition tasked students with creating a design that repurposed a building once part of the former Schneiders meat processing plant in Kitchener as part of a new community development.

Fourth-year students Hope Braga and Leah Lorentz were awarded first place for their concept, Oko Community Centre. Their design takes a new approach to a traditional gathering space, featuring an intuitive environment that facilitates and promotes wellness through multi-generational interaction, education, sustainability and safety.

“We wanted to develop the heart of this new community,” said Lorentz. “We focused on creating a space that encourages connectivity through programming and spatial layout and redefines what a community centre is.”

Oko features a variety of spaces, including event, office and retail, as well as a biosphere, an indoor playground and a gym. The centre design also incorporates advanced materials and technology, such as solar-powered lighting, kinetic flooring and augmented reality projections, while trying to blur the line between nature and the built environment with water features and suspended living planters.   

“We tried to encourage interaction with the building, nature and other people by including spaces that create experiences meant to entice and stimulate,” said Braga. “Visitors are exposed to features that honour the history of the building and area and continue to build towards a better future and sense of community.”

Fourth-year students Jackie Cooper, Emilio Navarro and Alexis Vanleeuwen placed second in the competition for their concept of innovative art house, Studio X. Submissions were reviewed and scored by a panel of design industry professionals. In addition to monetary prizes, results of the competition are published in Construction Canada Magazine.  

“It feels really great to have industry recognize our work and our ideas,” said Braga. “Our program does a great job at not only giving us the building blocks we need to be interior designers but also pushing us with industry trends and to innovative so that we have the skills to make an impact.”

“A little bit of our heart and soul went into this project - it’s encouraging to have it well-received,” Lorentz added. “I think it speaks to our program and faculty that Conestoga interior design students placed first and second in this competition and how much our skills are pushed. There’s a commitment to showcasing and defining what interior designers do to support our success as we come up in the industry.”

With chapters across Canada, CSC is a multi-disciplinary association committed to enhancing design and management quality in construction activity. First launched in 2014, the Student Design Competition opens avenues of collaboration with post-secondary institutions, industry and community partners to increase understanding of the importance of quality specifications in architecture, engineering and construction.  

Accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, BID provides students with the theoretical, practical and technical skills required for practice in the field. Through a comprehensive curriculum delivered by an interdisciplinary faculty, the program prepares students to apply an integrated approach to interior design solutions for the built environment and its occupants and meet the technological changes and currency relating to sustainability, universal design, and health and safety.