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Dana Alsayegh’s Master Dissertation wins the 2021 Van Hove Prize

– Prof.dr. Arch. Marc Dujardin on behalf of the arCsusLab team:

Organized by the Royal Professional Union of Architects (UPA-BUA), the VAN HOVE Award for Architecture represents one, if not the most conveted and prestigious awards and recognitions for our outstanding graduate architecture students. I am therefore delighted to report that one of my top students, graduating from the arCsusLab design studio (2020-2021) was awarded the 1st Prize on November 24th, 2021.

In the name of the Chairman of the Van Hove Prize, Jean-Paul Verheyen, the President of the UPA-BUA, Christian Ramette, and the President of the Jury, Raphaëlle-Laure Perraudin, following award criteria were conferred:

  1. The project’s successful outcome and its coherence with regard to its statement of purpose;
  2. The high quality of its graphic design, its legibility and its ability to communicate;
  3. Its capacity to answer current questions, to provide added value to society and to anticipate future needs;
  4. Its spatial qualities (in terms of scale, light and poetic approach);
  5. Its skilful mastery of aesthetic principles;
  6. Its realism and its feasibility.

Dana Alsayegh, conducted her Master Dissertation track within the KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture’s  Master of Architecture programme, Sint-Lucas Ghent Campus (MAIG42 – 2020-2021). This particular curriculum, currently renamed as ‘Resilient and Sustainable Strategies’, addresses various issues of the Debate on Sustainability as approached from the perspective of research driven design.

As academic supervisor of her master dissertation design project within my arCsus (architecture – CULTURE – sustainability) research Lab, -resorting under the Faculty’s Engagement of (contested) LEGACY-, I am pleased to mention that from my ten master dissertation students, Dana obtained the highest score from both the external jury and myself. As her mentor, it was a true pleasure to ‘coach’ her throughout her Master Dissertation design project entitled:

DROSSCAPING TRIPOLI’s INTERNATIONAL FAIRGROUNDS: Designing spatio-cultural crossovers to mend the broken promise of a secluded, unfinished and contested Modernist legacy as built sign of connectedness and citified affordances.

Coaching Dana through such a culturally sensitive, widely contested and very complex architectural issue, is one of the most intensive design paths I have taken with a master’s thesis student of architecture to date. At times it took me back to the rather populist and trivial architecture education of the mid 1970s where Oscar Niemeyer’s imagination, more than the one of Le Corbusier, offered me a way out to nurture and undiminished adjust my vision of architecture and the ‘imaginative’ skills to conceptualize, design, represent and communicate a spatio-cultural narrative. Dana for me as coach and mentor was a restless soul full of passion, pragmatism and design skills with an endless eagerness to learn.

Entirely unfolded and developed in unreal times of pandemic, our adapted ‘online’ teaching modes for running design studio’s were not experienced as restrictive but taken as opportunity to upscale the student’s design, representation, and communication skills such as video presentations.

So, to discover Dana’s personal signature of architectural designing, please view her video presentation, her synoptic posters and delve into in her design strategy, deepened in her Reflection paper.

Without any doubt this exceptionally high valued project will also act as ‘best practice’ and benchmark to trigger and upscale the quality of my future arCsus Lab master design studio’s. In 2017, I have transformed my residence, the M2M House at Lokeren into the arCsus Lab@home research center. Dana’s work will be exhibited soon as yet another signifier for what this interdisciplinary research lab stands for.

For a pictorial overview of her master dissertation ‘work in progress’, see a PPT of her work in progress framed within arCsus Lab,  Project brief, Posters, Reflection paper, and last but not least Dana’s vivid video presentation edited for the external jury.