Winners of the Wellness Bench Precast Concrete Student Design Competition

May 2, 2023

A team of Carleton University architecture and engineering students has won first prize in the 2022-2023 Wellness Bench Precast Concrete Student Design Competition.

The architecture students are 4th-year undergraduates Adonis Lau (Design), André Cusson (Conservation & Sustainability), and Krisha Thakkar (Design), supervised by Contract Instructor Richard Huot, of the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism.

The engineering team included students Jeremy Hawke (Aerospace Engineering) and Ryan Bedrosian (Civil Engineering), and Associate Professor Ted Sherwood, of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Image of a wellness bench designed by Carleton students

Inspired by the fluidity of the Rideau River, the Balance Bench takes the form of a stray tributary branching off into the Carleton University campus. Asymmetrical in form, the bench is comprised of four components: a concave semi-circle, a convex ellipse, a planter, and a small hill at the back.

“We are very excited to have won the competition,” said the students. “We learned a lot through this competition, and we will definitely bring the knowledge gained from this experience into our future studies and future careers.”

The project aims to alleviate anxiety, depression, and stress in students through a wellness-centered design paired with an optimal site location. It encourages students to step away from the busyness found throughout campus, connect with others, check in on how others are feeling, and appreciate the surrounding environment. 

 Due to its length and non-uniform shape, the bench can comfortably seat up to 12 people, while additional people can take advantage of the sloping hill along the back. 

“It’s great to see architecture students reaching out and collaborating with engineering students and working with a variety of professors,” says Associate Professor Sheryl Boyle. “It’s the kind of collaboration and integration that will change the building industry.”

The winning team receives $2,500 and an opportunity to fabricate their design project.

They propose to install the bench toward the southeast edge of the Carleton campus, near University Drive, the River Building, and Alumni Park.

The site is “a beautiful yet seemingly underutilized space in proximal view of the Rideau River,” they write.

“Additionally, in direct view of passengers riding on the O-Train towards campus, interest will spark among those looking for a place to study, relax, or unwind.”

Honourable Mention

In addition, the Moss Bench, submitted by architecture students George Gialouris-Tsivikas and Ju Huang, supervised by Dr. Sheryl Boyle, received an Honourable Mention.

“Just like the moss planted on it, the seating design sprawls into a collection of benches, which allude to the Japanese dry garden, Karesansui,” they say. “These are intentionally placed among the site to create an experience rather than just a seat. One may participate or view them in passing while still benefiting from the experience.”

The Canadian Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (CPCI) sponsored the second annual competition. See the announcement here.

The competition challenges architecture and engineering students (undergraduate or graduate) to investigate the design and technical opportunities of precast concrete.

CPCI asked participants to consider the theme of wellness, along with the technical understanding of precast concrete systems. According to the National Wellness Institute, the six dimensions of wellness are occupational, physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional. The competition asked: “What are the ways this definition of wellness can be expressed through architecture, engineering, and construction?”