Top timber competition names DMU architect among UK's finest

Innovative thinking has earned second place in a national competition for an Architecture graduate from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

Veniamin (far left) representing DMU at the TRADA competition

Veniamin Bampilis represented DMU in the University Challenge 2020 run by TRADA, an international organisation dedicated to informing the best use of wood in the built environment.

A final-year student at the time, he was one of 58 participants from universities across the UK, working in teams to design, cost and engineer the best low-carbon, energy and water efficient timber community housing.

As the lead architect in his team, Veniamin came up with an idea to innovate the traditional bungalow design by connecting it to a first floor flat, enabling elderly residents to live independently on the ground floor while being supported by younger residents living above.

“We narrowly missed out on the first-place prize, but our intergenerational design helped us place second and I’m proud to have played a key part in that,” said the 20-year-old from Greece.

Volunteering in Ahmedabad, India

The competition was hosted at Cardiff University over two intensive days just one month before the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. Each team consisted of two architects, two engineers, a landscape architect and a quantity surveyor - none of whom had met before - simulating real-world working relationships.

During the challenge, the teams also received hands-on support from pioneering design professionals and industry members.

Veniamin said: “It gave us valuable insight into interdisciplinary team work, preparing us for the real world. It was a big opportunity to gain valuable exposure and network with big industry names too.”

His part-time position as an architectural assistant at Astill Planning Consultants helped to prepare Veniamin for the competition and has also complemented his studies.

The job is what also kept him from returning to Greece after national lockdown measures were lifted.

Veniamin designed a flood-resistant community centre for The Loving Community

“The experience I’m gaining is second-to-none and I’ve been really lucky that I’ve been able to continue working remotely during the pandemic,” he said. 

Graduating with a First-class degree this summer is testament to Veniamin’s talent and dedication. One university highlight which he believes has enhanced his skills and knowledge is DMU Global.

He said: “DMU Global has been a gift sent from god. It’s been one of the best things ever and I know it will give me a significant advantage in my career.”

From Amsterdam to Berlin, Veniamin had the chance to explore a variety of European architecture, visit iconic installations and experience working in a range of studio settings.

His most memorable trip was volunteering in the construction of flood-resistant homes for families in The Loving Community, which is located in one of the poorest areas of Ahmedabad in India.

“We worked in really challenging conditions and everyone was so humble. It felt good to go back to simple, cost-effective architecture and we also got to submit our own designs to make sure the houses survived the monsoon season,” he said.

Taking the decision to study abroad was not easy, but Veniamin has no regrets.

He said: “I’m so glad I took the risk. DMU has opened up so many opportunities I know I wouldn’t have had at home.

“The Vijay Patel Building and facilities are fantastic and the university is extremely generous when it comes to materials and bursaries for your studies. Also, the staff are so supportive and I can honestly say that my tutors have helped to shape me.”

Find more of Veniamin’s designs on issuu or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Posted on Tuesday 25th August 2020

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