Flux awards Aim to Spur Urban Ideas

Flux awards Aim to Spur Urban Ideas

  • Flux challenged emerging architects around the world to address imminent urbanization;
  • Industry judges represented Gensler, BIG, Google, Sidewalk Labs, and VeeV Design;
  • Carnegie Mellon students claimed two top awards for innovative campus housing plan.

by ROB McMANAMY, Editor-in-chief | April 17, 2016

Like much of our industry, architects often are derided as being reluctant to embrace technology. Not that they don't like the whiz-bang design possibilities that tools like BIM offer their practice. But fairly or not, the perception is that many designers, in particular, don't really love the idea of broadly collaborative, interdisciplinary new tech, and remain skeptical of its promises.

True or not, San Francisco-based Flux Factory has little patience for such assumptions.

Earlier this month, the collaborative AEC technology startup born out of Google[x] announced the winners of its first-ever Emerging Architects Design Competition. Flux had invited architecture students from around the world to submit their ideas for improving sustainability in a rapidly urbanizing world. Four winners were selected across five categories.

"In the next 30 years, the population of our urban environments will double, putting incredible strain on already taxed systems," said Flux co-founder Jen Carlile. "The AEC industry needs to find innovative solutions to meet that need. We should be looking to this next generation of architects and engineers to harness new technology to transform how we design."

We should be looking to this next generation of architects and engineers to harness technology to transform how we design
— Jen Carlile, Flux co-founder

As profiled in BuiltWorlds last fall, Flux's stated aim is to bring scalability, sustainability and efficiency improvements to the global building industry. Since the AEC community is still "heavily craft-based with teams spending significant time and money on repetitive and mundane tasks," the competition asked students "to explore the role technology solutions can play in accelerating the building design process and in increasing the innovation capacity of design teams."

The four projects listed below won the top five prizes. Submissions were judged by Anand Babu of Sidewalk Labs; Raveevarn Choksombatchai of VeeV; Eva Friedrich of Google; Leon Rost of BIG; and Ken Sanders of Gensler. More information about the judges, and complete descriptions and visuals of all the winning (and honorable mention) projects can be found here





  • Submitted by Sinan Goral & Sophie Nahrmann, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. "Located in Pittsburgh's hearty strip district, Ecoschool retaliates against the sector’s largely commercial and industrial archetype by offering affordable student and faculty housing..."



  • Submitted by Sophie Romaniko, Kyiv National University of Construction & Architecture in Kiev, Ukraine, and Maksym Romaniko, University of Oregon, Eugene OR. "The priority system of this entry is focused around the topics of energy performance and socioeconomic sensibility. Given this framework, the project was developed through big amount of performance simulations, studies of climate and socioeconomic context."

Best use of Data Harvesting: DOM


  • Submitted by Mitchell Page, University of Sydney; Adrian Taylor, University of Technology, Sydney; and Dominic HawtonNarissa Bungbrakearti, University of New South Wales. "How might the fields of architecture, engineering and construction meet the demand for affordable and sustainable building in this rapidly urbanizing world? What role can technological solutions play in accelerating the building design process and increasing the innovation capacity of design teams?"

Best Multi-User Collaboration:

'Live Google Earth'


  • Submitted by Jamie Farrell from MIT in Cambridge, MA. Site context is not always physical. In many cases, the surrounding environment is in flux. Live Google Earth allows designers, policy makers and planners to observe the future built environment via real time design development. This submission is a prototype of a Revit/Flux/Rhino/Google Earth workflow but should also function as a road map to direct Flux.io to Google Earth compatibility. 

Flux Factory was founded in 2012 with a two-pronged, broader mission to help the AEC industry meet demand for: 1) Housing driven by urbanization; and 2) Sustainable practices necessitated by climate change. Flux now plans to make this international competition an annual tradition.

Last fall, the firm released Flux software, a cloud-based service for architects, engineers, and contractors, that enables data exchanges between, and among, popular design software programs, such as Excel, Grasshopper, and Dynamo. "It helps [them] streamline complex design workflows, and ultimately work better together to meet the urgent need for affordable buildings," said Flux in a press release.

Prior to the competition, Flux already had demonstrated considerable momentum. In late December, the firm announced that it had raised $29 million in Series B financing, led by Singapore's Temasek and Surbana Jurong Private Limited. Other investors: Far East Ventures, DFJ, South Park Ventures, Borealis Ventures, Obvious Ventures, and Singbridge. Prominent industry partners also include ARUPTurner, and Gensler

For more, go to http://flux.io/.

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