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Students Win Prize for Carbon-Absorbing Building Design

Students Win Prize for Carbon-Absorbing Building Design
17 August 2023

Students at Coventry University have won the Design Concrete 2023 first prize for their nature reserve building design that absorbs carbon dioxide.

Design Concrete is a national competition open to students of architecture, asking entrants to demonstrate how concrete can be used to reduce whole-life carbon, provide climate change resilience and support a more circular economy. 

Lecturers at Coventry University decided to ask their students to enter the competition as an assignment brief.

The 2023 project was to design a sustainable concrete structure within a former quarry that allows both humans and wildlife to successfully share the same environment, providing a platform for biodiversity and opportunities for visitors to engage with and learn about the natural and geological environment.

Aakriti Kharel, Rio Toyoda, Mohammad Zahidi, and  Harry Greenhalgh, all Coventry University students, took the top prize for their creation: Crane’s Fen.


Crane’s Fen Nature Reserve


The design of Crane’s Fen uses voids resembling water droplets across the roof to allow light to filter through and includes a café and workshop where visitors can take part in feeding the birds, building bird boxes, pond dipping and upcycling nature.

Construction of Crane’s Fen would use Hanson concrete which absorbs carbon dioxide throughout its lifespan and is completely recyclable. 

The judging panel agreed that the design demonstrated excellent sensitivity to the site context from concept to detailed design. Material was used efficiently and details were well developed. The submission also demonstrated an excellent understanding of locally available, low-carbon cements and aggregates.

Aakriti Kharel said: “It was only when they announced the results that we fully grasped the significance of what we had accomplished. Our initial assignment turned out to be our first-ever victory in an architecture competition. 

Picture: a CGI of the proposed nature reserve showing a circular shaped building surrounded by water and wetlands. Birds can be seen also. Image Credit: Coventry University

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 17 August 2023


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