International architects, designers compete in Austin competition

Claire Allbright

The natural and artificial worlds came together in an architecture installation Saturday, bringing together architects and designers from around the world to create site-specific pieces for Circle Acres Nature Preserve.

Igor Siddiqui, associate professor in the School of Architecture, served as a co-founder and co-director of the design competition Field Constructs.  Siddiqui said the competition served as a chance to bring emerging architects to Austin from all over the world and provide a learning experience for students.  

“My goal is to connect students to projects that are happening outside of the boundaries of the University and then also showing to students how emerging architects and young architects can engage in real projects and real discussion about the future of the environment in ways that are tangible to the students,” Siddiqui said.

Kory Bieg, a faculty member in the School of Architecture, was chosen as a winner of Field Constructs with his project HYBROOT. Bieg said HYBROOT utilizes new technology to create a root-like structure as an attempt to bring together the natural and artificial in design, materials and technique.

Bieg said that although he is an architect in the city of Austin and has work across the country, he has never had a project displayed in Austin.

“Hopefully, it leads to more things,” Bieg said. “It’s been great to work on a professional project with students. It’s nice to be able to combine those two worlds and to have their influence in my project and my knowledge feeding back, so it’s a good give and take.”  

The project had two components: An exhibition in the Melbourne Gallery of the School of Architecture that provided an overview of the competition and the installation at Circle Acres Nature Preserve in the Montopolis neighborhood of Austin, which opened Saturday.

Siddiqui said Circle Acres Nature Preserve was chosen as the site because of its layered history as first a quarry, then a dump and now a nature preserve. How the installation related to the site was something jurors took into account, according to Ingrid Spencer, a juror and executive director of the Austin branch of the American Institute of Architects.

“It had to be something that would be beautiful and catch your eye,” Spencer said. “Something that you would come across in this natural environment and really start to think about. Something to pique your interest.”

Siddiqui said the exhibit at the School of Architecture, whch opened Friday, would expose students and the larger Austin community to innovative architecture projects.

“Bringing the exhibition to the gallery here really allows for the competition to have the exposure in the architecture community in Austin that we are hoping to reach,” Siddiqui said.