World class student architects from YTU
Saya U Myo Myint Sein (A58) wrote:
Wonderful news from our ‘old’ school. Congratulations to Professor Min Thet Mon (Pamela Myo Min, A70), and student architects Khin Htet Htet Zaw and Chaw Kalyar. We are proud of you guys, keep up the good work.
Young architects win international acclaim for railway house re-design
Two Yangon Technological University (YTU) students have put themselves and their institution on the world stage, winning an honorable mention in a European contest which asked budding architects to come up with environmentally-sensitive building designs.
The Sustainable Building 2000 European Student Competition sought designs for a commercial office building – either a new complex, or the renovation of an existing one – in a manner which would “enhance the knowledge of students in schools of architecture on the issues of sustainability in buildings”.
The competition, contested by 94 students from around the world, was sponsored by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy and Transport, and organized jointly by architecture faculties at the Oxford Brookes University (UK), the University of Florence and the ETA-Florence.
The competition issued a tall order, especially for undergraduate students of architecture from Myanmar who had had little or no foreign exposure. But Khin Htet Htet Zaw and Chaw Kalyar were, to their own surprise, up to the challenge. “When Sayamagyi (Prof Min Thet Mon) first showed us the pamphlet during the vacation last year, we had some difficulty just trying to figure out the theme of the project,” Khin Htet Htet Zaw said.
“The entire concept of sustainability in buildings was new to us in a country where resources are still relatively abundant,” Chaw Kalyar added. “But we were intrigued by the issues that were outlined in the main theme. “So we decided to hunt around for literature and references on alternative technology, energy efficient methods and a whole lot more.”
The concepts to be considered during the design process included the life cycle management of the building, energy efficient solutions, the use of renewable and recycled resources, the impact of future climate change on the long term performance of the building, and the quality of the internal environment for building users and citizens. Selecting a subject site was, in itself, an adventure.” We considered the retrofitting of a number of old office buildings such as the Old Secretariat, some bank buildings, amongst others,” said Chaw Kalyar.
“Of these, we found that some were not large enough to qualify, others like the Old Secretariat were either too large or inaccessible for our purposes. “So we finally decided on redesigning the old Railways Head Office situated at the corner of Bogyoke Aung San and Sule Pagoda Roads. “The competition theme requirements fitted perfectly with this beautiful relic.” The girls said they experienced many stumbling blocks along the road to success. “Apart from having to do a lot of leg work and reading, much more than we’d ever done before, there were also many discouraging elements,” said Khin Htet Htet Zaw.
“Some of our fellow students and even some senior architects expressed their doubts as to our experience and competency to compete internationally. “One or two warned us that our entry would turn out to be an embarrassment when compared with entries from other universities,” Chaw Kalyar added with a smile. Asked if she and her design partner had experienced any misgivings during their preparation for the competition, Chaw Kalyar’s reply was emphatic.
“Sure we did! All along there was this nagging doubt as to whether we were being too simplistic in our approach to the design problems,” she said. “We constantly argued about how and if we should aim at impressing the panel of jurors in Florence. We decided, however, that we should just try and finish the work.” “Originally, there were three of us who started the project,” said Khin Htet Htet Zaw. “After the initial survey, our colleague asked to back out as he had personal matters to attend to. “That really was a demoralising low point in our project.
“The worst part was always wondering if we’d be able to complete the final presentation in time for the required postmark date. I guess we muddled through somehow!” But there were also, despite the challenges, helping hands and words of encouragement. “Sayamagyi really inspired us and egged us on,” said Khin Htet Htet Zaw. “The retired professor of architecture, U Hla Myint, architects from the ARCHway Design Centre and elsewhere, to mention a few, did give us invaluable insights, advice and encouragement.”
After a long and anxious wait, during which time the girls said they gave up hope of even receiving an acknowledgement for entering the competition, Prof Min Thet Mon received a large envelope in late July 2000. The package contained a book with the list of winners and photos of their entries, a certificate and an invitation to attend the awards ceremony at the TIA in Florence. Congratulations to Khin Htet Htet Zaw, Chaw Kalyar, Prof Daw Min Thet Mon and, last but not least, the Yangon Technical University, for this achievement on an international level!
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