Climate Responsive Retrofit: University Design Challenge 2023 is coming to an end!

Addressing the urgent need to reuse and upgrade existing buildings, this year’s university design challenge has focused on the essential but challenging realm of retrofit.

Seven team entries to the Climate Responsive Retrofit Design Challenge were longlisted and, of these, four teams have now been shortlisted for the live judging event on 14 July 2023.

Transforming a small community building

The brief asked the student teams to design, engineer, landscape, specify and cost a retrofit scheme, to EnerPHit or AECB standards, for an existing timber frame building in Hereford.

Teams were invited to reimagine the much-loved but underused Widemarsh Cricket Pavilion, and the triangle of ground it sits within, by retrofitting and extending it so that it can meet the needs of the community, be low in carbon, and produce more energy than it consumes.

According to the brief, the footprint of the pavilion was able to be doubled in size and extended to the rear – but was not to be extended beyond the boundary of the frontage, or beyond 0.5 metres each side. Participants were invited to consider landscaping for climate mitigation, increased biodiversity and community enjoyment within the site.

Working together from early concept to detailed design

Overall, seventy students and recent graduates from twenty-seven universities across the UK participated in this year’s design challenge. Representing a variety of built environment courses, including architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, quantity surveying and project management, the participants joined one of ten multidisciplinary teams to develop and submit their proposals.

With design features ranging from green roofs to glulam extensions, charred timber façades to biophilic interiors, the final proposals demonstrate an imaginative and impressive array of fabric-first and environmentally integrative thinking.

Structural solutions have used both engineered timber systems and timber frame, creating dramatic transformations to the space whilst maximizing use of the existing structure and sympathetically combining new and old.

By collaborating from the early stages of design development, participating students have had the rare and valuable opportunity to learn the language of other disciplines and work closely with members of the various professions that they will go on to work with as built environment practitioners.

“The university design challenge breaks down barriers between professions and educates and encourages participants to use timber widely and well,” explains Tabitha Binding, Head of Education and Engagement at Timber Development UK.

Supporting our future professionals

With a programme of technical webinars by a team of experts working at the forefront of retrofit, students were supported through the challenge, learning all about climate responsive retrofit and how it can be achieved.

All participants were given access to and training for integrative industry software Trimble SketchUp, designPH, Passivhaus Planning Package and the AECB Carbon Calculator, enabling them to learn about new products and produce high-quality design drawings and plans.

Judging and awards finale

The competition will culminate with a live event on 14 July at NMITE’s Skylon Campus at the Centre for Advanced Timber Technology. Each of the long-listed teams will present their final proposals to the professional judging panel, which includes architects, engineers, cost consultants and council representatives. Judging will be followed by an awards ceremony to celebrate the winning projects.

Congratulations to the four shortlisted teams, listed below, representing some of the incredible emerging talent of built environment students in the UK:

Team 1:

Numaan Amar, University of Birmingham

Joseph Meehan, University of Bristol

El-Amin Ahmed, University of Cambridge

Tanchho Lawati, UCA Canterbury

Siara Wong, University of Nottingham

Matthew Lindars, University of Birmingham

Tsveta ‘Ettie’ Karagyozova, University of Sheffield

Team 2:

Irene Dumitrascu-Podogrocki, Newcastle University

Shweta Salvankar, Cardiff University

Deepak Sadhwani, Cardiff University

Dafyn Llewelyn Richards, Plymouth University

Martin Juricek, Heriot-Watt University

Daniel Green, London Metropolitan University

Team 5:

Arjun Prema, Edinburgh Napier University

Chantal Barnes, University of Westminster Graduate

Jiar Sadiq, Edinburgh Napier University

Muneeb Khan, Robert Gordon University Graduate

Shifana Kunnathedath, University of the Arts London

Team 9:

Craig Robertson, Edinburgh Napier University

Tim Danson, University of Brighton

Caroline Vosburgh, Edinburgh Napier University

Vicky Rogers, Plymouth University

Augustin Quarez, University of Bath

Alice Davyson, Edinburgh Napier University

Prince Lemoha, Robert Gordon University


Timber Development UK in partnership with AECBBE-STNMITEEdinburgh Napier UniversityPassivhaus TrustWith Software from Trimble, the Passive House Institute and AECB.



The #TDChallenge23

The webinar series