Winners of FAIRY TALES 2017

Winners of FAIRY TALES 2017
Blank Space competition [Washington] USA
metalocus, JOSÉ JUAN BARBA
FAIRY TALES 2017. Winners
In front of a live audience at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C., Blank Space, AIAS, and the National Building Museum announced the winners of the fourth annual Fairy Tales competition. With submissions from over 60 countries, the award-winning entries explore current events and the creative process through wonderfully crafted short stories and artwork.
In this new edition of Fairy Tales, (2016 edition look here) the winners were chosen by a jury of more than 20 leading architects, designers and storytellers, including Marion Weiss, Michel Rojkind, Jing Liu, Dan Wood and John Maeda, among many other distinguished judges.

Chase W. Rynd, the Executive Director of the National Building Museum, and a jury member for the competition, said:
“The proposals put forth in the Fairy Tales competition create entire worlds of the imagination – they build their immersive stories as much by what they don’t say, as by what they do. The winning entries in this year’s competition include oblique references to current events, mundane daily activities and human emotions that we all easily relate to – they make visible how we shape space, and in turn, how space shapes us. The images and narratives are so wildly outlandish, and yet, so grounded that it seems like we could mistakenly stumble into any of them. They are personal and powerful – a testament to the power of architecture as a world-builder.”

Since its inception in 2013, the annual Fairy Tales challenge has attracted thousands of participants, and winners have gone on to develop their stories into successful Kickstarter campaigns, short films, comic books, and exhibitions.

This year’s jury selected three prize winners, an AIAS winner, and 10 honorable mentions:

First Prize goes to Mykhailo Ponomarenko, a Ukrainian trained architect for his entry “Last Day”. The entry utilizes classical painting techniques to create monumental landscapes with strange scifi megastructures inserted into them. The relatively mundane occurrences in the story make it feel like these wild scenes could in fact be real.

".../...Saturn A6 was a huge artificial platform, which used anti-gravity engines to fool the laws of Nature and to prove to the creator of the universe that we can control the game. In places, where it was hard to make a living because of a lack of flat surfaces and picturesque landscapes, Saturn technology brought a new range of emotions and experiences to its citizens. Saturn A6 was an agricultural platform. The people were extremely happy to work in their “fields of opportunities”, and, at the same time, contemplate the stunning views around them.../..."
“Landscapes have always inspired me to put something weird, unreal and out of human scale into them. Something not feasible and not practical that contrasts with the natural surroundings, but also exists at the same scale. These satirical interventions lead to new ideas and feelings about nature - they make the viewer more aware about the environment and our harmful impact on it. We are flat surface creatures. Sometimes I feel that we crave it so much that the planet is going to be turned into pavement so cars can go anywhere, and our industries could continue expanding. The "Saturn Rings" in my proposal represent these flat surface desires but in a more poetic, optimistic, and friendly manner.”
- Mykhailo Ponomarenko

Second Prize goes to Terrence Hector, an architect from Chicago with an M.Arch and BS in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His entry, “City Walkers” or “The Possibility of a Forgotten Domestication and Biological Industry” tells a beautiful story of a sentient species of architecture that moves slower than humans can perceive. That doesn’t stop human beings from harnessing every possible bit of energy from “The Walkers” in addition to spawning settlements in their wake.

".../... I struck up a conversation with a foreign traveler, a diplomat from an unspecified country, one of the many vassal states of the Russian Empire, as he remarked on an illustration in Augustus Pugin’s “Contrasts”, which I was then reading. Upon seeing Pugin’s Illustration of a Catholic Town in the 15th century and then altered by industry, he claimed to have knowledge of an ancient city where the opposite change had occurred, not because of the idiosyncrasies of local religious architecture, but because “the Towers of Industry had died.” Finding his choice of words unbelievable, he assured me the meaning was literal, and I pressed for more information. He claimed to be in possession of a history from the end of this city’s age of natural industry, and would provide me a copy for analysis and translation. He did not reveal his name, and I lost contact with him, my only source of information, after that week. The only lead for future investigation is the similarities between the wording of the document and medieval descriptions of the flora of the island of Socotra, as well as anatomical similarities to the subphylum Tunicata as described by Lamark, and these relationships are explored in my illustrations.../..."
“The city in this story was an exploration of civilization and urbanism as humanity’s relationship with natural and biological systems that exist on a vastly longer timescale than the human lifespan. Creating a closer relationship time-wise between human and natural timeframes let me derive a new urban typology, which also acts as a parable of overexploitation. I was trying to work through an inferred genealogy from the USS Monitor to Hayao Miyazaki, working through a tradition of humanizing massive, aggressive machines.”
- Terrence Hector
Third Prize goes to Ariane Merle d’Aubigné & Jean Maleyrat, two French architects that met in architecture school, for “Up Above”, an imaginative story of refugees in the sky that build shanties on thin stilts, high in the clouds, to escape oppression, regulations, and inequality on the surface of the earth below.

".../... The people smuggler took the last money we had. We arrived at Skyland with nothing. Fortunately, the community of Skyland lives frugally and we can support ourselves by meeting our needs. The notion of the accumulation of money that upset and undermined our system (which seemed so solid to everyone) does not exist here. For the simple reason that there is no currency, the whole society operates in barter and simple exchanges within the community. Everyone produces what he is in the ability to produce, or offers the services he can render to the members of the community. It is a rather disparate community like hills hidden between the clouds.../..."
“Revisiting the world of fairy tales by participating in the Blank Space competition was very stimulating. The short narrative takes a look at reality through the marvelous and the fantastic. We have tried to highlight contemporary issues and concerns by letting the supernatural burst into reality. Migration, the accumulation of wealth, overpopulation, the terrorist threat and pollution are some of the issues with which we live every day. We highlighted these concerns and our love of art through this poetic tale. Our generation often aspires to an "elsewhere", in our "elsewhere" the rules of the game have changed.”
- Ariane Merle d’Aubigné & Jean Maleyrat

The AIAS Prize for the highest scoring entry from an AIAS member goes to Maria Syed & Adriana Davis, two architects that met while studying at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, for their story titled “Playing House”, an exercise in illustrating the destructive power of split-personality. Starting with traditional drawings of a modest dwelling, the drawings, and in turn, the narrative, devolve into a series of accusations, misunderstandings, and multiplicity.

".../...Let me start at the beginning, how I saw the world. My bedroom was my safe haven. I always found comfort in the sharp balcony, protruding out over the street. Sometimes I sat there. But mostly I stayed in my room. It seemed whenever I left my room, patches of my memory faded. I felt something electric jolting through me in the other rooms. A strange presence. So I sat in my rocking chair, with only the loud veins of wallpaper speaking to me. Ever since that time my memory faded, Mother forbade me from leaving my bedroom. It was safer this way.../..."
“Playing House embodies the idea that architecture can eclipse the personality of its occupants, where the character and style of the architecture dictate the mood of the inhabitants. The loud textures and discordant angles of the home sparked the idea for the story: transitioning from room to room manifests itself in drastic physical and psychological change. The drawings, the genesis of our submission, address architectural conventions of projection drawings, merged with the unconventional appearance of the home to create friction. This act is mirrored in the story, where a typical visit from a neighbor turns peculiar. The two creators of this project worked closely throughout their undergraduate career, creating an inseparable partnership for their first collaboration.”
- Maria Syed & Adriana Davis
The Jury awarded 10 honorable mentions to: Minh Tran, Alan Ma, & Yi Ning Lui: Xinran Ma; Jun Li, Joris Komen, Yuxing Chen & Yina Dong; Carly Dean & Richard Nelson-Chow; Aidan Doyle & Sarah Wan (Wandoy Studio); Dakis Panayiotou; Julien Nolin; Michael Quach; Janice Kim & Carol Shih; Chong Yan Chuah, Nathan Su & Bethany Edgoose.

The Fairy Tales competition has become a repository of the social and environmental issues that are at the forefront of everyone’s mind on a yearly basis. They capture the zeitgeist of the year in highly imaginative, and sometimes tongue-in-cheek ways. Space Blank founders Matthew Hoffman and Francesca Giuliani expand on how the competition has grown since its inception in 2013:
“Over the past 4 years, thousands of participants from around the world have crafted their own architectural fairy tales. Architects and designers have always been fantastic at generating graphic representations of their ideas – but what has improved the most is the quality of the text narratives. With each rendition of the competition, it is obvious that the participants have learned from the best qualities of year’s past, and have gone on to craft their own extremely innovative fictional stories. The competition has proven itself as a collective exercise to show the world new ways of discussing and writing about architecture, and in this most vital sense, it has been a great success.”
The winning stories and honorable mentions can be read in full on Space Blank’s website at: