2016 ANFA Competition

A Partnership of Neuroscience and Architecture in School Design

ANFA, the Academy of Neuroscience and Architecture, is convening its third biennial conference, CONNECTION: BRIDGESYNAPSES, at The Salk Institute in San Diego, California, September 22 thru 24, 2016. As before, this will be the venue for exciting intellectual contributions at the interface of neuroscience and architecture.  As in previous ANFA conferences, we encourage students and faculty to attend and, if possible, contribute to this event.

We invite students in architecture to form a team with a neuroscience student (or a Neuroscientist Mentor, a cognitive science student or mentor) at your school or elsewhere to participate in this adventure, an innovative competition to explore ways in which neuroscience can illuminate architecture.

The project is the design of a small school in Peru that will be comprised of three parts: pre-school and K-3, grades 4-8 and grades 9-12 spaces, in three “buildings” that can double in size over time, all common use structures, and the assignment of uses for the ample outdoor space. The project will be located in the community of Yantalo in the Amazon jungle in northeastern Peru (go to www.Yantalo.org), and it has been chosen because it will greatly benefit this community and it will be built. The competition requires the formation of a bi-disciplinary student team, the conduct of basic research in the pairing of the ANFA partner areas, neuroscience and architecture, a written statement as to how the design evolved from this understanding, and a statement as to how this partnership would work in the implementation of the design.

Three of the submitted projects will be selected for presentation at the Conference. Their graphics will be adapted for presentation in the 3D Immersive VR CAVE facilities at the Qualcomm Institute/Calit2 (http://qi.ucsd.edu/) on the University of California San Diego campus, immediately adjacent to The Salk Institute.  Presentations will take place on the first day of the ANFA Conference.

Students representing each of the three finalist teams will have their conference and dinner admissions and lodging covered. Other contributed designs will be considered for submission as posters for display and discussion during the Conference.

A bi-disciplinary jury will decide the winner following the presentations and that team will be announced at the closing dinner on the second night of the conference. Two members of the winning team will have their expenses paid for the opportunity of a lifetime; a visit to the actual site in Peru, spending time with the clients, and a side trip to Cuzco and Machu Picchu.

Posters and other information are available below. Please feel free to email us with any questions.

The mission of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture is to promote and advance knowledge that links neuroscience research to a growing understanding of human responses to the built environment.

ANFA Competition Core Project: A three teaching unit K-12 school campus in Yantalo, Peru

The small town of Yantalo, Peru will be building a kindergarten-through-high school campus for the community and for the children of volunteer physicians, medical staff and others that operate the Yantalo World Health Center. The Yantalo Foundation is seeking designs for the school and has arranged, to consider the winning design from the ANFA Conference Competition as a possible design for this school.

The goal of the ANFA Competition is to create a design for each unit of the school that uses best design practices and incorporates neuro-scientific knowledge about the appropriate responses and sensitivities to the built environment of a child’s brain and mind at changing age levels.  Degree of neural maturity is an important consideration in school design that is of particular interest to and part of the mission of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA).  Learning spaces do more than grow in size of furnishings and spaces through those years. (An excellent presentation of the joining of the disciplines can be found in Brain Landscape, by John P. Eberhard. See also the ANFA website for other references and discussions of the subject.)

The Yantalo Health Center, supported by the Yantalo Foundation (www.yantalo.org), is a fifteen minute walk from the town center (A map of the site will be accessible on the web site). What started out as a small clinic, envisioned and built in memory of his mother by  Dr. Luis Vasquez, has resulted in a major health and research center in Yantalo, Peru. The hospital occupies a part of a very large site designed to accommodate a variety of uses including a Physical Therapy Center, a school for medical careers, research facilities for high altitude medicine, a crematorium, housing for visiting medical professionals and more.

The proposed Yantalo Primary School will be for the community children, and those of the volunteers who stay from two weeks to several years. It will be built on a basically flat site mid-way between the town and the hospital. Further information, as the site map, is forthcoming.

Following a master plan, the first phase will be for the K-3 years. Phase one of that unit will be for 20 children, expandable over time to 40. The second phase will be the same when the first group enters the 4-9 years, also expandable to 40. The final building will be completed for the next group one year before they enter.

Dr. Vazquez plans to have all children bi-lingual before entering grade four, and tri-lingual before completing high school. Open spaces for each group are in concert with a larger open space for all. Connectivity and adjacent open spaces are important. Each component should have a discreet identity as part of an overall identity.

There are multiple spaces needed such as offices, dining, gathering spaces for off-hours community use, gymnasia etc. These spaces are not stipulated and left to the innovation of the design teams. Research should determine basic structural and other materials.

Cost is always a concern, but not the driver of the project. It will all be built with donations for construction, and operation. Presentation should include original statement and conclusion (1-2 pages); site plan, plans, sections, and vignettes at ground level. Salient information to be included on (1) 24×36 portrait board. Additional supporting information may be submitted on an 8.5×11 letter size format.  All work shall be submitted in computer(Google Sketchup, Collada file with no more than one million polygons) form for translation into 3D presentation.


2016-07-09: For more information, please visit our FAQs page.

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