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Esquisse Challenge 2014 - Designed Spaces for Changed Places


RCAHMS challenged students at the ECA to sketch out fantasy architecture drawings as a part of a new, student competition. The brief asked them to design a living space set in a future Scotland where the environment has been dramatically affected by climate change.

Entrants were given just 48 hours to produce and submit their work, to ensure an honest reflection of their immediate responses.

The competition was intended as an homage to the discipline of ‘esquisse’ sketch drawing in architecture. Esquisse is a French word meaning sketch, and it formed part of the curriculum at the ECA in the 1930s and 40s. It was always a strictly timed exercise which looked for a student’s immediate reaction to a specific theme or brief, usually produced within 24 to 48 hours.

The winning entry, by Wynne McLeish, a second year Master of Architecture student at the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), imagines a floating settlement attached to the structure of a submerged Forth Rail Bridge. The Judging panel, which included the conservation architect Dr James Simpson OBE, praised the winning entry for combining elements of fantasy with practical responses to a challenging environment. Other entries on the shortlist of ten, which can be seen below, included a settlement built inside an iceberg, a converted broch, and a futuristic city built on stilts above Edinburgh Castle.