A group of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s (UTM) architecture students has been awarded third place in the Ranko Radovic Student Competition, an international design and planning competition organized by the International Federation for Housing and Planning (IFHP). The result was announced at Royal Danish Art Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, 24th Sept 2007 in an auditorium packed with international audience, speakers, participants, and panel of jurists, including the competition’s 10 finalists.

Due to the competitive nature and comparable standards amongst the top winners the panel of jury has decided not to award the second place. Several categories of prize money were lumped into one and to be divided equally amongst the winners instead. UTM have to share with Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana (Mexico) and TU-Berlin Fakultat VI Arkitektur (Sweden/Germany) for a joint third place with each of the teams received Euro5,000.00. The first and honorable mention went to Technische Universitat Braunschweig (Germany) and National Technical University of Athens (Greece) respectively. It can be also understood that UTM have actually won a second place.

The IFHP’s Ranko Radovic Student Competition of the IFHP Congress 2007 in Copenhagen has invited students at all levels and from all disciplines – Urban Planning, Urban Design, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Geography, Sociology, Anthropology, Urban Studies, Environmental Studies, Engineering, Traffic Planning, and related academic fields – to submit their rendering of ideas and solutions for the future cities. It was first established in 1983 and has taken every second year, giving young talent from all over the world a unique chance to showcase innovative projects. The competition is organized to coincide with Student Congress and the IFHP 51st World Congress held from 23-26 September 2007. The theme ‘Futures of Cities’ establishes the concern and focus of the 51st IFHP World Congress. Hence similar theme renders the background and objective of this competition.

About 200 submissions from more than 100 universities from around the world participated in the competition for instance Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (US), Carnegie Mellon University (US), Virginia Tech (US), Cornell University (US), Yale School of Architecture (US), Sheffield University (UK), Architectural Association School of Architecture (UK), Manchester School of Architecture (UK), University College London (UK), National University of Singapore, Tianjin University (China), Chiba National University of Japan, Waseda University (Japan), and University of Melbourne (Australia). The works of all 10 selected entries were exhibited for the final stage of the judging. Winning teams were also invited to orally present their scheme. The winning UTM team consisted of 6 undergraduate degree students in architecture from Department of Architecture, Faculty of Built Environment: Yew Wooi Seng, Nur Adlina Fawzi, Asmah Basherudin, Mohamad Radi Rahmat, Chairul Anam Muqimun, and Muhd Mustakim Abd Wahab, all are in their 4th year under the tutelage of Wan Mohd Zakri Wan Abdullah, Dr. Mahmud Jusan and Adjunct Professor Ar. Shamsuddin Mohamad.

UTM team submitted an urban design project aims to revitalize existing fisherman village in Pontian, located within the Iskandar Development Region, with utmost care and sensitivity so that its existing social, cultural and environmental setting could be protected and enhanced. The design and planning aspiration seeks to achieve a balance proposition towards built environment so that the people within the area can live in harmonious equilibrium with their dwelling place. The Jury issued a 3-paragraph comment on UTM submission, “…the buildings fit to the river landscape and opens for views and access to the coast line. Finally the small scale and structural openness of the traditional building culture is reinvented into a modern building form suited for prefabrication. The project is the result of a very coherent design process, and is very clear presented.” It is hoped that a project such as this could inculcate in the hearts and minds of the students of their future role in ensuring a balance and harmonious development by not ignoring social, cultural, and environmental interconnectivity.

Head of Architecture Department, Assoc. Prof. Dr Syed Ahmad Iskandar Syed Ariffin highlighted that for this semester, all design studio projects for all years of study are based on issues and challenges related to the proposed Iskandar Development Region. Elements of competition have been included and implemented consistently in the curriculum and in it’s teaching and learning approaches as means to bench mark students’ academic quality with the rest. It is hoped that through competition such as this IFHP Student Competition UTM could gauge her students’ competitiveness at international arena. The students arrived at UTM Skudai Campus on Monday, 1st Oct 2007 and with smiling faces briefed Head of Department of the mission they have accomplished