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Ferda Kolatan’s ‘Real Fictions Cairo’ Earns AIA Studio Prize

By penndesign
Mar 13, '18 1:54 PM EST

PennDesign’s Ferda Kolatan, Associate Professor of Practice, and graduate students in the Department of Architecture have won the 2017 AIA Studio Prize. Real Fictions Cairo, which creates new public spaces and captures lost sites in the Egyptian capital, was selected by the jury one of the most compelling studios in U.S. architectural education today and is featured on the cover of the September 2017 issue of ARCHITECT magazine, the publication of the American Institute of Architects.

Kolatan was asked by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture in Cairo to develop a studio that offered solutions to some of the city’s most pressing quality-of-life issues. The goal was to hybridize existing infrastructure with new architectural elements. In a departure from convention, the studio called on students to present these ideas as decontextualized “objects.” “Rather than suggest specific solutions, we wanted to present prototypes that can be implemented at different scales,” Kolatan says.

Students in Real Fictions Cairo included Alexander Tahinos, Angela Huang, Meari Kim, Kyuhun Kim, Angeliki Mavroleon, Rosanne Pitarresi (featured projects); Aly Abouzeid, John Dade Darby, Carrie Rose Frattali, Angeliki Tzifa, Kaikang Shen, and Jianbo Zhong. Teaching Assistant for the studio was Michael Zimmerman. The studio received support from Eng. Ibrahim Mehlib, Dr. Laila Iskandar, Eng. Mohamed Abu Saeda, Dr. Gihane Zaki, Dr. Haby Hosney, Aly Abouzeid, and Ahmed Zaazaa.

This year’s jury of distinguished practitioners and educators included Renée Cheng, FAIA, professor and associate dean of research, University of Minnesota, School of Architecture, College of Design; Carlos Jiménez, Principal and lead designer, Carlos Jiménez Studio, professor and interim dean, Rice University, School of Architecture; and V. Mitch McEwen, principal, McEwen Studio, co-founder, A(n) Office, and assistant professor, Princeton University, School of Architecture.

“In the past, it was sufficient for the studio premise to be bound by the traditional silos of the profession,” Cheng told ARCHITECT. “Today’s studios are embracing influences well outside of traditional architectural concerns, and use analytical techniques that may be data-driven or scaleless. When these explorations are catapulted into form and space, the results can be spine-tinglingly exciting.”

Read the full interview with Kolatan and see more student work at ARCHITECT online.