Sign of Hope: Award success for Malaysian Students

A team of students from Birmingham City University’s partner institution, the Malaysian Institute of Art (MIA), were recent winners at the Confluence Ideathon 2021. The international design competition received over 850 entries from 25 international institutions, and Whoastudio team were delighted to be awarded First Place in the Art x Design category. 

The team of students from MIA’s BA (Hons) Interior Architecture and Design programme is made up of Thong Yan Kit, Kylie Lee Yun Qi, Liew Kar Kar, Yumi, Ng Shi Phei, and Wong Chee Sang. On receiving their award the team shared the honour with their lecturers Clarissa Lim and Queenie Wong, thanking them for their support and advice throughout the project.

Design work by the Whoastudio team

The Confluence Ideathon 2021 is an arts hackathon that brings together the most innovative minds in the world to develop creative solutions for a world class arts facility in New Delhi, India. The focus is on finding answers to questions that impact different kinds of visitor experiences, including accessibility, inclusion, sustainability, and enjoyment in experiencing the arts.

Whoastudio’s proposal invites the public to participate in the creation and assembly of inflatable and prefabricated furniture structures. The making process will expose participants to new technologies and tools, and encourage social interaction and wider community cohesion. When complete it is intended that the objects become a lasting sign of hope, for today and the future.

As with many entries, their design was influenced by the need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the team’s proposal ‘Sign of Hope’ explores ideas and scenarios that may take place in the future.

As the students explain: “As society adapts to the needs of the new normal, exciting new ways of social interaction have emerged to reconcile the desire of gathering. In adversity, our response is to explore a new set of public relations and tangible demonstration of what is possible, through public participation in inflatables and prefabricated self-built furniture.”

Design work by the Whoastudio team

“By intersecting communities, arts, design, and fabrication technology, it generates a continuous cycle and creates a participatory experience, and celebrates a philosophy of ‘many voices’ for the future. We hope our idea could come alive and outreach to the neighbourhood and community starting from one’s self, to embrace changes on larger scales.”

The award was presented by architect Abhimanyu Dalal who commented “Their idea is creating a project that defines an outreach to neighbourhoods, to communities, to areas where the museum or cultural institution can extend itself. They talk about reusing materials to have local craftsmen make the displays and those displays can change and represent a community. I think this inclusiveness of the community and the cultural institution makes things come together in a very creative and exciting way.”

Congratulations to the Whoastudio team and their tutors at the Malaysian Institute of Art from all at Birmingham School of Architecture and Design!

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