Interview with the winners of the Student Design Competition

Interview with the winners of the Student Design Competition

The rejuvenation of Science Park office building started in 2017 along the latest office trends and standards. When planning, the universities situated in the neighbourhood have also been considered and gave an inspiration to feature also the younger generations in design. This is why the owners of the office building and CBRE the exclusive letting agency have decided to invite the architect students of BME and MOME for a design contest to involve the new generation to design the showroom in the new Science Park. During renovation these fresh ideas were to be considered as well.

The winners of Science Park Design Contest have brought to perfection the designs of the showroom representing the office building of the future together with the architectural designer DVM group. Below, we asked the winners of the contest, two third-year architecture students about their application and the couple of weeks they have spent with DVM group.

– Where do you study, what’s your major and what year are you in?

Réka Süttő: We have finished the 3rd year at the Budapest University of Technology (BME), Faculty of Architecture. We both chose the Department of Design.

– What’s your hobby, your favourite pastime?

Attila Szabó: It often happens that when we are not working on our university tasks we spend our time with architecture as well, with non-university projects. This is when we can create such an application like this Science Park Design contest was.

Réka Süttő: The problem is, we have no time for others things. I noticed that when the term starts, everybody tries to spend that little free time what’s left with relaxation. We have no special hobbies that we would carry out regularly, instead, we like to spend our free time with friends.

Attila Szabó: It is primarily our friends that can relax us, but sometimes it is solitude, depending on what we need at the moment.

– Have you participated earlier in such design contest? If yes, what was it about?

Réka Süttő: Last December we participated at the Recsk Memorial Site design competition where the task was to plan the reception building. A team of five have applied for the competition (including the both of us), and in February we learnt that we have won it. Basically this success was the drive for us to participate at this new contest as well.

– Are there many such contests?

Attila Szabó: Their number has increased recently. There used to be fewer ones previously. Nowadays the contests and applications are invited in „waves”.

– Are you aware of all of them?

Attila Szabó: Generally, we search the net for such opportunities or scan the university departmental info boards.

Réka Süttő: I think there are relatively many contests and tenders but only a few people apply. My guess is that people are not aware of the possibility to apply to and perhaps to win these contests.  Another cause may be that people have no time to apply because they are overloaded and focus on their university tasks instead.

– You’ve applied jointly for the Science Park Students’ Design Contest. Is it only a professional relationship, or where did the idea come from to work together?

Réka Süttő: It is a professional relationship but we are also very good friends.  We’d noticed that in professional matters we complete each other: what I don’t like he likes and vice versa.  We’ve had university projects as well that we worked together on and that’s where we found out that we think very much alike.

Attila Szabó: Perhaps we managed to find that harmony that makes us able to work together. Certainly, there are minor problems but we can get over them relatively easily. When working with others it is more difficult to handle a problem so that the common issue could develop and succeed.

– What was your motivation for the application? The prize, the professional opportunity, the office building or perhaps the working environment as a topic?

Attila Szabó: I think it was much rather the professional opportunity, that is, that we can try something in real life. The competition situation itself inspired us, that we had the chance to bring in fresh ideas of our own and it wasn’t just another university task. It was also important that it was an opportunity to try ourselves in a bigger community. It seemed like a good measure to see how we are as university students, how is the environment and how are the others. We were also very much motivated by the fact that it was an interior design case to be solved that we haven’t done before, it was our first and wanted very much to try it.

Réka Süttő: But it was also important that projects like that can be included in our resume. It is often a topic at the university as well that everyone should participate at projects other than the university ones because these can be decisive factors when looking for a job.  And these experiences can also be at hand in the future.

– What was your favourite solution in your work that you’ve submitted and why?

Attila Szabó: It is difficult to pick one since we feel that it is a complex and we loved each of its elements on its own account as well. There is a unique collaboration zone in it, maybe this is what I could pick.

Réka Süttő: Science Park logo is made of intersecting circles and our basic idea was that we make a table like it that people can sit around. So it won’t be a traditional rectangular table thus we thought the thinking would not be traditional either that such a table inspires. They can sit here when they want to work together but also if they want to work separately. I like this logo form very much and later it was a bit modified in order to work properly.

– Which are the elements in the visual plans that connect directly to Réka or Attila?

Attila Szabó: The idea was common, that means, no element was included that was not thought up of or discussed by the both of us. I could name only technical elements such as that I positioned the elements for the visual plan and Réka did the post-production tasks. It comes from the nature of the working process but the design concept is the outcome of a joint brainwork.

Réka Süttő: I noticed that Attila somehow shows more ability to the interior design part as I do, so I guess it depends on the personality.

– What was your first thought or reaction when the idea came up that you could spend two weeks at  DVM group?

Attila Szabó: It was a bit of a shock for me and I guess we got a little scared, too, about what’s going to happen, how we can manage, but in the end, it was very good.

Réka Süttő: I was very happy. I did not even want to believe that we were granted such an opportunity, to further elaborate our application because we felt as well that it was not ready yet.  It was ready for submission but we preferred to be able to work on it further. That’s why these two weeks were a great opportunity for us. They helped us a lot since we haven’t yet learnt interior design at university, it’s scheduled for later. So in a way this period was some kind of an education for us.

– Have you worked previously at an architecture office or in a classical office environment, either as a summer job?

Réka Süttő: I would not call it classical but I worked with an acquaintance of mine at an architecture design office in the summer where I could follow their work but could not participate since I did not know the programme they used.

Attila Szabó: I haven’t worked in a design office previously, but in offices I have, every summer for several years.

– What feelings did you have when you started your first workday at DVM group?

Réka Süttő: I was very excited. It was a new environment where we weren’t really sure what was expected from us and whether we would be able to give what was needed.

Attila Szabó: I had it too, plus when we started there they were in the middle of moving since the company keeps growing dynamically.  The ones that received us moved to another floor of the building so we landed in the middle of a big hustle-bustle. But they received as nicely and did not show that we would be a burden for them.

– How was it for you to work with people older than you? Did it make it easier that DVM group has a lot of young employees?

Attila Szabó: Basically a younger generation works there. We could easily identify with them, there were no problems, and the older colleagues also welcomed us as professional partners.

Réka Süttő: I talked to a couple of people who attended BME much earlier, but we had that connection as well, we could talk about lecturers and the university itself, it bonded us somehow.

– During your work the „top dogs” have also joined in. How was it for you to work with the doyens of the profession?

Attila Szabó: It was a very correct professional relationship, they were very nice to us from the very first day, and they showed us around and introduced everyone.

Réka Süttő: Tibor Massányi, managing partner of DVM group, as well helped us till the end in everything.

Attila Szabó: But we also had a certain independence, because we could do everything on our own. We usually consulted once a day but even then they did not tell us straightforward what to do but only showed us a direction that we could use for finding our way.

Réka Süttő: They even said it sometimes that it was hard for them to make us not feel that it is no longer our plan. But they succeeded because we sensed their help but still consider the plan as our work.

– What new things did you learn?

Attila Szabó: I think everything was new for us. We entered an environment completely different from university where everything is taught theoretically. And now we could experience everything in practice, more logically, more clearly.

Réka Süttő: It was a special feeling to experience that what we have designed can be realised in deed. When we design for the university, they say sometimes that this or that is too expensive and forget it. Now we could experience it tangibly, that this is the real world and that our decisions do carry weight.

– What new elements got included in your application and why?

Attila Szabó: The most important new element was the reception area.

Réka Süttő: It was not included in the application invitation so we did not think about it. It was perhaps the first requirement that arose when we first talked to the DVM group people.

Attila Szabó: We got guidelines for how it should look like, where it should be positioned and we tried to make it accordingly.

– Was there anything in your original application that you stuck to or had to stand your ground for?

Attila Szabó: The green wall was very important for me, so the basic concept ideas were the ones that we tried to retain but they did not want to talk us out of it anyway.

Réka Süttő: It was perhaps the suspended ceiling but we knew it too that it is a question of taste in an office: some like it, some don’t. I would have rather insisted on the already mentioned table, but it was kept in the design in the end.

– So there won’t be a suspended ceiling?

Attila Szabó: There is suspended ceiling, but only sectionalized.

– What is it like for a third-year student to regularly „go to work”?

Attila Szabó: It was quite stressful…

Réka Süttő: It was very stressful because the work coincided with the last two weeks of the term when we had hand-ins and it was a supplementation week as well.  So, for us, it was quite chaotic to go to work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then to head home to do our university tasks. So we didn’t sleep much in that period.

Attila Szabó: Still, it was a pleasure for us. We would not be able to do it in the long run but we managed.

– When you’ll graduate, where would you like to work? What area of architecture are you most interested in?

Attila Szabó: For many of us the idea is only being shaped at the moment. The most important design subjects, the department plan and complex planning will be due this new term at university.  The majority of the students are continuously attending professional practice so it is only these days that we will find what we are really interested in. We will probably choose design.

Réka Süttő: At the beginning of this third year the question arose: do we want to become structural or design architects and we chose the design direction. My favourite is visual design so this is the way I’d like to go.

Attila Szabó: Well, time will decide anyway because we would be able to deal with almost anything, but it seems that building planning or interior design will be our way.

Zoltán Bodzay