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 closed. The regional winners will be announced in August.

Sebastián Adamo: Daylight is our material par excellence

Sebastián Adamo, jury member for the International VELUX Award 2020, sat down with our VELUX colleagues in Argentina for an interview. He has his own architecture firm, Adamo-Faiden, which he started with his business partner Marclo Faiden in 2005. The firm’s practice extends into the field of teaching and research and has been internationally recognized by the media and academic institutions. He previously worked as a professor at FADU-UBA and at Torcuato Di Tella University. His insights have been translated from Spanish.

Sebastián Adamo, jury member for the International VELUX Award 2020.

Daylight in architecture

The International VELUX Award is focused on daylight. When it comes its importance in architecture designs, Adamo said: “Natural light in architecture is a concept rooted in the quality of architecture. When we speak about a project having some degree of quality, it is always linked to the use of natural light. Daylight is our material par excellence.”

“There are philosophical reasons for the use of daylight, I think that daylight is the real material of architecture, more so than other tangible materials. And for evolutionary reasons, air is the other material we like to work with.”

These reasons are explored through two categories for the award— ‘Daylight in buildings’ and ‘Daylight investigations’. Read more about each category in the award brief.

Bonpland 2169 building. Buenos Aires, Argentina (2018). Photographer: Javier Agustin Rojas.

Relationship building between students and educators

Students participating in the award are required to be supported by a professor or educator. Of this important partnership, Adamo offered: “I think when we speak about an architecture project at university, we speak about it having a very special link between the student and the professor. The student is the leader of the project but there is a kind of shared authorship with the professor because the professor creates a series of discussions on these projects and thus could also be considered as an author. That’s why it is so important for both students and professors to participate.”

Advice to students and the benefits of competition

Adamo outlined several benefits to participating in competitions like the International VELUX Award. “I think that architecture competitions, at the professional level and at the student’s level, are spaces where cultural discussions are ideal because things are seen from a horizontal perspective. Through the projects, the main tool in the production of new ideas, we discuss very specific topics. This discussion is necessary for the students’ subsequent professional success.”

“Also, there is the opportunity of participating in an international competition. There are many, but not all of them have the same level of prestige and tradition as the VELUX Award where we know how it works, what is discussed and why…”

When it came to his particular advice for students he said: “My advice to students is to be themselves. Don´t approach this competition as a singular problem but figure out how to exploit their ideas in the best way possible…and to be relaxed, but they must also understand that they have a role in this world and they are part of the changes they want to make a reality. So, there is an ambiguous point there—to be relaxed and to produce tension at the same time, which I think is interesting in these types of competitions. Those things that produce stress and satisfaction at the same time, and are related to the learning process involved in this type of competition, are how students should address the competition.”

Bonpland 2169 building. Buenos Aires, Argentina (2018). Photographer: Javier Agustin Rojas.

What he’ll be looking for in projects

As a jury member for the award, Adamo gave an insight into what he’ll be looking for in the projects. He said, “I would love to be surprised by very simple things, not by architectural effects and shows, but by things that focus on making small steps in our discipline and the world we live in. I think it is very important that students build a viewpoint of the world we live in with the tools at hand, in this case the most important tool is daylight.”

Read more about the jury for this year’s award.

By Sarah Detter