Two student teams receive recognition in the Wellness Bench Student Design Competition

May 29, 2024

A team of Carleton University architecture and engineering students has won third prize in the 2023-2024 Wellness Bench Precast Concrete Student Design Competition for the PineCrete Bench.


Students Faris Itum, Anthony Papini, Simon Martignano, and Oskar Kalm are in the three-year Master of Architecture program at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism. They were supervised by Associate Professor Sheryl Boyle and Instructor Jean-Philippe Beauchamp.


The team included engineering student Rheanne Pascal, who was supervised by Associate Professor Ted Sherwood, of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.


The students worked together to prepare design drawings, structural analysis, and a competition poster, winning a prize of $1,000. The site was the ByWard Market in Ottawa.


“Recognizing the inherent challenges posed by traditional concrete — often perceived as cold and uninviting — we embarked on a design exploration driven by the question: How can we transform concrete into a material that exudes warmth and invitation?” they wrote in their proposal.


“Our pursuit of a solution led us to draw inspiration from the inherently warm and welcoming nature of wood,” they said. “This insight fueled our development of a novel hybrid material that marries the durability of concrete with the warmth of wood. By incorporating hardwood pellets, sourced from surplus timber, and pine tree resin into our concrete mix, we achieved a groundbreaking material transformation.

“Our parametrically designed forms cater to a wide array of activities and preferences, offering everything from low, high-backed seats for extended relaxation to elevated seats for casual use,” they added.

A Carleton University team also received an Honourable Mention for the Pebble Path Bench. The team comprised Master of Architecture students Jennifer Liu, Daphne Stams, Filipe Costa, and Weixi Zhong, plus engineering student Gabriel Karam.


The architecture supervisors were Dr. Sheryl Boyle and Instructor Jean-Philippe Beauchamp, and Dr. Ted Sherwood was the engineering supervisor.


Also sited in the ByWard Market, the Pebble Path bench is composed of a precast concrete mix where the aggregate uses debris and leftover red bricks from the neighbouring buildings.


“Its modular and three-shell form enables a design that can occupy wide areas and bring people together through different arrangements of space,” says the team. “The hollow-shell structure of each component reduces the use of raw materials to limit environmental impact while maintaining a high degree of strength, feasibility, and transportability.”

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


CPCI challenged architecture and engineering students to design a bench using precast concrete and consider the theme of wellness, along with a technical understanding of precast concrete systems.