The International VELUX Award is a competition for students of architecture that runs every second year. We challenge students from all over the world to work with daylight as an ever relevant source of light, life and joy. The award is one of the most important global student competitions of its kind.

Submission is now closed. The jury will review the projects in July and the regional winners will be announced in August.

Experiencing daylight with Francesco Veenstra

“Be aware of how you experience daylight”

“First, use your own body and senses to experience what light does to you as person. Use yourself as a source and start designing from there instead of using all kinds of references,” says the award-winning architect and partner with Mecanoo architecten, Francesco Veenstra, who is one of the five jury members of the International VELUX Award 2016.

Kaap Skil, Maritime and Beachcombers Museum, Texel, Netherlands Photo: Christian Richters

Veenstra began his architectural path as a student in his late teens and was inspired by the ability of an architect to develop creative ideas and build them into meaningful spaces. Today, he leads the Mecanoo architecture office in Manchester, England where he and his team create built spaces that are designed to resonate with people.

“It is a combination of the people, the place and the purpose which makes it interesting for me to work on projects and these connections provide a lot of inspiration for developing new ideas,” says Veenstra.

Daylight is a key inspiration for many of Mecanoo’s architectural projects and Veenstra emphasizes the role of natural lighting runs deeper than just the design itself.

Kaap Skil, Maritime and Beachcombers Museum, Texel, Netherlands Photo: Christian Richters

“We strongly believe that daylight is one of the main ingredients in architecture in order to create interesting spaces but more importantly, to create a healthy environment for its users,” notes Veenstra.

His work has been recognized with numerous awards including the Dedalo Minosse sustainability prize for the Philips Business Innovation Centre in Nijmegen, NL and he will be in Copenhagen this June to convene with the rest of jury in to find the 10 best daylighting projects in the International VELUX Award 2016.

Municipal Offices and Train Station, Delft

Francesco Veenstra’s sustainable approach to architecture can help inspire students to incorporate daylight in their own project submissions. However, as he notes, sustainability doesn’t necessarily have to be linked with modern solutions and can instead incorporate ideas such as longevity which can be found in some early architectural designs.

Francesco Veenstra

“I hope to see ideas which move away from technology and try to capture very basic tools or ingredients," says Veenstra

It is this back to basics approach that Veenstra sees both as the future of architecture and as a possible avenue for students to explore before submitting their IVA2016 projects before 15 June.

“I hope there will be more of a Guerilla type of architecture where people start thinking about what they want instead of using architecture like a consumer product,” he says.

Francesco Veenstra will share his experience and expertise in Copenhagen this June to help decide the winners of the regional prizes, with the overall winners being announced at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin this November.

By Shaun Weston Nystrom