Unlocking creativity: Hassell’s Kew Gardens AI Competition

How would you design a treehouse for an iconic location using AI? This was the question we asked the Hassell team to consider for our recent Kew Gardens AI Competition. Almost 60 entries were received from across the practice globally, highlighting the creativity and innovation that can be unlocked using AI in design.

With an emphasis on sustainability, regeneration and careful material consideration, we invited people across Hassell’s network of studios to submit ideas for a fictitious treehouse in Kew Gardens, a well-known UNESCO World Heritage site in London, using AI tools to showcase their inventiveness and skills.

The Kew Gardens AI Competition brief called for a design that served an educational or recreational purpose (or both), with the concept of what constitutes a treehouse being open to interpretation.

The internal competition generated 59 entries across the practice, from every discipline and business function, and with different experience levels — from Principals and Senior Designers to young Graduates.

Five judges from Hassell chose the winning entries. The panel included Samantha Peart, Head of Sustainability; Alison Potter, Principal at our Melbourne studio; London-based Ashley Munday and Xavier de Kestelier, both Principals and Heads of Design; and Sydney-based Sharon Wright, Principal and Head of Design.

Entries were judged on five distinct facets of design: idea and conceptual clarity, execution precision, sustainable and regenerative design attributes, educational and recreational elements and the innovative application of AI. 

The Hassell jury unanimously chose student of architecture Joe Loughnan’s entry, The Birch Halos (pictured above), as the winning design. 

The project demonstrated a crystal-clear concept, graceful execution and an innovative solution to discarded tents left behind as waste at music festivals.” 

— Hassell jury

The minimal environmental impact of the proposal and its embodiment of the pure essence of a treehouse resonated with the jury. Congrats, Joe!”

Two competition entries also received Special Commendations — The Mycelium Treehouse by Senior Landscape Architect Yue Rao and The Vertical Allotment by Senior Associate Megan Caroll.

The competition highlights the transformative potential of AI in the design process and the ability of these tools to help unlock creativity and efficiency, and communicate ideas.

Image, top: The winning design, The Birch Halos’ by Joe Loughnan


March 26, 2024

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