70 high school students from around Lithuania were given an exceptional chance – to design a hotel. The students are the participants of the project “Design. Engineer. Construct! LT”, initiated by Kaunas University of Technology Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture (KTU FCEA). Earlier this month, the participants were submitting their projects to the international board of experts for the first-stage assessment.
“We believe that this project meets all our expectations. The tasks include different design stages – from the creation of the vision to its fulfilment. This gives the students a chance to understand how similar projects are created and what is the role of architects and engineers during the process”, says Aritonė Plungienė, Vice-Principal for Education at KTU Engineering Lyceum.
According to her, the teachers are also benefitting from the activity: during the project they encounter areas unknown to them, they learn how to use new designing software.
13 teams of students representing KTU Engineering Lyceum, Vilnius Žemyna High School, and Panevėžys Juozas Balčikonis High School are participating in the project. In the first-stage assessment, the students had to introduce their vision, logos and sketches to the international board of experts from various fields, to the teachers, university students and their colleagues. Until the end of the school year, the participants will have to transform their ideas into the 3D project, to create models and visualisations.
From invisible to eco-friendly hotels
Every week, for half a year, the teams were given various tasks. First, they had to analyse the potential clients of the hotel, and based on their traits, to create a concept of the hotel. Then, business, urban and natural environment, and social issues were explored. Finally, every team, depending on their chosen client segment, and the main idea of their hotel created the logos and the style concept of the hotel.
“It is exciting to see high school students developing original ideas and being able to express them visually. For example, some teams have decided to create a museum of cars in the hotel or even an aquarium. There is a team designing a hotel, which would be completely secret and unknown for the outsiders, some other teams focus on sustainability while designing eco-friendly hotels. Also, the presentations of their hotels are all different and unique”, says Laura Jankauskaitė-Jurevičienė, lecturer of architecture at the KTU FCEA and the coordinator of the project.
After presenting their ideas, the participants received feedback from the board composed of experts from various fields: DEC teacher from Great Britain Daniel McDonagh, architect and KTU FCEA associate Professor Gintaras Prikockis, KTU FCEA Lecturer of architecture Jurga Vitkuvienė, KTU FCEA Civil Engineering PhD student Ignacio Villalon Fornes, KTU Creative Director Ieva Juozėnaitė, Head of the KTU Marketing Paulina Kuzmickaitė, KTU FCEA Dean Dr Andrius Jurelionis. The representatives from Bentley Systems and YIT Lietuva were also on the board.
Before the final presentation at the end of spring, the students will have to convert their ideas into a detailed 3D project, to create the models and visualisations of their hotels. Moreover, they will need to solve some engineering problems related to hotel ventilation, heating and other engineering issues. In this way, the students will get to experience the whole process of engineering.
Challenge not only for students but also for their teachers
All the students are participating in the project in their free time, after classes. The assisting teachers are also facing some difficulties when solving the problems outside the school curriculum. Teachers of art, information technologies, physics and other subjects contribute to the project.
“This project is a challenge for all of us. The support from the university is very helpful: we receive visits from the lecturers who teache not only the students but also the teachers. Students can view their teachers as equal members of the team who also have their tasks, face similar challenges and have to learn the things that are yet unknown for them”, says Plungienė.
For some participants it is the first project in which they have to work intensively as a team, looking for compromises and solutions together.
“I am lucky to be in a group with some interesting people who have different ideas and points of view. It is fun to generate ideas and to fulfil them in our project. However, the biggest challenge was to find time for everyone to sit down together and just work. Still, when all of us do sit down and work together, the ideas flow freely. After all, the project is great”, says Astijus from Vilnius Žemyna High School.
With his team, Astijus is designing an eco-friendly “GreenLex” hotel. In the future, he dreams of working in the construction engineering field.
Miglė, from another team of the Žemyna High School, is impressed by the uniqueness of the project.
“When we were introduced with the project, I was fascinated with the scale of it and the opportunity to create a hotel all by ourselves – the idea seemed very strange because we are so young. I am interested in design and architecture, this is why I have decided to participate in this project and now I have a chance to see those areas from up close. The hotel, which we with the team are creating, will be completely secret and located underground so you won’t be able to see it. Its clients are going to be only people from the elite. The hotel will provide complete confidentiality and secrecy”, Says Miglė.
Experts help to get over challenges
During the whole project, the students and their teachers are consulted by the professors and professionals working at the KTU Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture; they are being taught how to work with the Bentley Systems software. Also, the teams get advice from various experts. For instance, engineer Airimas Rocius, KTU graduate during the opening of the project shared his experience on construction engineering. He explained the possibilities of this field and why it was attractive. Gintaras Prikockis, an architect and a lecturer, shared his insights on what to pay attention to while designing a project and where to draw inspiration from. Jūratė Rudienė, the director of the Kaunas Park Inn by Radisson Blu Hotel told about how hotels work, what premises they need and what essential things need to be kept in mind when designing.
The project teams already visited architectural offices Nebrau, Mmap., Panprojektas. Later on, the students are going to visit construction engineering companies Inhus, Staticus, YIT Lietuva, Kauno Tiltai.