No one needs to have a university degree to prove their talent as a budding architect or civil engineer. This has been proven by the competition that Xella Czech Republic has been organizing for students for 28 years. In the academic year 2022/23, students from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland were once again able to submit their proposals for solving an architectural challenge. 56 young talents faced the jury of prominent Czech and Slovak architects. (Jakub Cigler, Juraj Hantabal, Pavel Jiroudek, Peter Moravčík, Imrich Pleidel, Peter Richtárik, Miroslav Stach, Jana Stachová, Jaromír Veselák, Ľubomír Závodný).
This year's challenge was a maritime one under the motto "Nature creates - man perfects", namely the urban planning and architectural study "Marina Ústí Nad Labem, port and anchorage for small watercraft and airplanes". Students from technical and art colleges and universities were given the following task: How can the current, rather unsightly, area of the Ústí dock and transhipment point be transformed into a worthy ensemble of buildings? At the same time, the design should fit in with the three significant landmarks of the city, led by the Větruše Castle, and complete the panorama of the southern part of the city. Students could tackle this task themselves or in teams.
Exceptional interest and quality
Choosing the winners was particularly difficult for the jury this year because the interest of students in the Xella competition was exceptionally high. The standard of the 65 submitted projects was also high. Jana Stachová, architect and jury member, was surprised: "2023 was exceptional. Perhaps it was due to the genius loci of the site, which is located in the immediate vicinity of three significant national monuments on the territory of the City of Ústí nad Labem: the Masaryk Lock Technical Monument, the Vrkoč Rock Natural Monument, and the Střekov Castle Cultural Monument". In addition, there was the attractive task of integrating a marina.
According to the jury, Denis Cheryn, a student at the Faculty of Architecture of the Czech Technical University in Prague, solved this task best. "His architectural design does not fulfill the formal aspect of the task but places the history of the new marina in the context of the site," the jury praised him. "It provides a counterpoint to the austere urban structure and gives residents a reason to use the site in the long term."
The elegance of his design, they said, is in the details: "He brings the form of a spa colonnade to the river and places the various functions logically below and above the roofscape. His design not only meets the needs of the port, but also the needs of the city's visitors and residents, such as new pedestrian and bicycle connections to the waterfront."
The first three winners received cash prizes of up to 4,000 euros, while the fourth to sixth place winners received non-cash prizes.
Ing. Peter Markovič, member of the jury and managing director of Xella CZ and Xella Slovakia, was pleased with the added value of the competition: "The level of the winning works is a promise for Czech and Slovak architecture and construction." At the same time, he promised: "Xella will continue its traditional and long-term support of students from vocational schools, technical colleges and universities. After all, we are already working on the outline of the 29th edition of the Xella University Competition."