How quickly time has passed since the Era of Towers: Mixed Use Tower Design competition last year. The CIDB-MSSA Students’ Open Ideas Competition returned in November, positively more exciting than the last: participation was bullish, entries were ingenious and prizes bigger and better! But of course the prizes were not the main aim of the race – the participants showed higher creativity and stronger team spirit, determined to exhibit that the most challenging of tasks can be overcome with due diligence, untiring dedication and teamwork.

Like last year, students of the architectural and engineering disciplines had to work together to produce a building design. Only this time, the object was of a sports facility in Langkawi, the Langkawi  CRC, which must exhibit:

•                  Creative overall master plan of the facilities

•                  Competency in architectural function and form

•                  Innovative use of steel as the main structural material

•                  Creative use of the Industrialized Building System (IBS)

•                  High Green Building Index (GBI) and

•                  Excellent provisions for the disabled.

The judges were highly impressed with the students’ creativity and had a challenging time shortlisting the entries and picking out the winners. However, they also firmly thought that in their zealous ambition for producing the best design, many contestants had forgotten to be realistic: their visions were excitingly innovative but may not be as easy to construct. They also felt that participants should have provided sufficient details on the steel cable structure in their presentations. This comment was taken positively by the contestants, who are now even more determined to submit the best entries next time.

All said and done, teams from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) grabbed the first and second prizes – RM10000 and RM7000 respectively! This was closely followed by a team from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) which took home RM5000 as the winner of the third prize. Two consolation prizes of RM3000 each also went to teams from UiTM. These prizes were a generous increase from what was seen in the 2012 OIC, so a big thank you was relayed to the sponsors, especially CIDB. The teams from nine other universities who took part that did not make it to the finals still felt that they were not exactly going home empty-handed: they had established new networks, learnt new skills and obtained an experience that was simply priceless.

The prize-giving ceremony was held on November 21, 2013 in Seri Pacific Kuala Lumpur, officiated by MSSA President Dato Seri Ir Dr Judin Abdul Karim and attended by the 2013 OIC Chairman Prof Dr Azlan Adnan, judges of the competition, deans and heads of the various Engineering and Architectural departments and faculties of the participating universities, CIDB representatives and MSSA Council members as well as the participants and other guests. Dato’ Sri Ir. Dr Judin expressed confidence that the next OIC would be even more exciting with the additional participation of seven private universities which are currently signing MoU’s with MSSA in this regard. He also announced the theme for OIC 2014, which is innovative Community-Disaster Convertible Centre that functions as a regular community hub normally but transforms into a relief centre in times of crisis (floods, storms, epidemic etc). The centre would serve both for ‘Operation and Distribution’ as well as ‘Transitory Accommodation for Disaster Victims’.

He also thanked everyone involved for their support– especially the sponsors, participants, the deans and lecturers - and looks forward to the next OIC. Indeed, we hope that the annual MSSA-CIDB student competition will continue to be the platform on which undergraduates of architecture and engineering can experience a valuable learning process that supplements their regular lecture and tutorial sessions at their respective universities.