OCC Architecture Students Take Top Prize in Cal Poly University Design Competition

OCC Marketing and Public Relations
May 27, 2022
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photograph of tetrahedron structure with soft fabric walls. Structure is in grassy and hilly landscape, with sun peeking out from behind a hill in the background. Other similar structures are also visible in the background.

Orange Coast College’s architecture department won the grand prize and an honorable mention for two entries in this year’s Design Village competition at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. The annual competition is hosted by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s architecture program and invites student competitors from California universities and community colleges to design and build “shelters” which they inhabit throughout the entirety of the weekend. Participants were tasked with manually transporting their structures to the foothills behind the university, dubbed “Cal Poly Canyon” on Saturday, April 22, and judging took place on Sunday, April 23. 

This year’s competition was the largest in the event’s 47-year history, featuring 15 entries from some of the top architecture programs in the state. OCC’s architecture department took 11 students grouped into two teams, with professors Joseph Sarafian, AIA, and Steve Fuchs each guiding a team. The theme of the competition was “Eternal,” giving students an open-ended project brief to design a structure that transcends time and space. 

“Our team was inspired by the way various civilizations have viewed the afterlife and eternity, and explored the geometry of a truncated tetrahedron, which is a pyramid with its corners removed. 

Students named this project ‘Three-Fold,’” explains Sarafian. “Thanks to the support of Professor Rose Anne Kings, the group was able to harness the prefabrication functionality of OCC’s FrameCAD Machine to print the light gauge steel studs needed to frame the pavilion." 

To date, OCC is the only community college in the world to own a FrameCAD design and building system — a rapid construction system that makes all of the necessary steel framing components for a structure, which are then assembled quickly onsite. 

“Thanks to the lightness of the 20-gauge steel and the Nylon fabric in which it was clad, each 12-foot-tall wall panel only weighed 68 lbs,” says Sarafian. “OCC’s welding department fabricated nine steel brackets that connected the walls to the base, and carbon fiber-infused Nylon brackets were 3D printed to connect the top of each wall panel, forming a triangular oculus in the roof.” 

Three-Fold took home the top award, “Best in Theme,” and celebrated by projecting a movie screening on its façade on the last night of the event. The student team consisted of Nick Barajas, Emily Ord, Luis Zamora, Tuyen Phan, and Max Masoud. 

The other OCC Architecture team won a merit award for with its entry entitled “Oculus Cosmos,” the design of which was born out of the OCC Makerspace, which houses industry-leading technology for sewing, podcasting, 3D printing, laser-cutting, CNC Milling, and virtually anything a designer could use to make their dream a reality. 

“This project explored a tensile structure of PVC pipe and stretched fabric, sewn and assembled in the OCC Makerspace,” says Sarafian. “Oculus is a structure designed to connect viewers with the longest lasting symbols of eternity, the stars. Using parametric design software, the team designed a skeleton wrapped in a fabric skin to recreate the three-sided mobius in physical space.” 

The Oculus Cosmos team, led by Professor Steve Fuchs consisted of the following students: Sam Lay, Natalie Darakjian, Mariam Khalifa, Antonio Ferrer, Grace Briquelet, and Juan Figueroa. 

The OCC Architecture Club hopes to re-build both pavilions on campus to showcase the work for future designers.