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Manipal University student wins Berkeley essay competition

Published On : 21 Jun 2016

Manipal: Coming close on the heels of one great achievement by a student of the Faculty of Architecture (FOA), Manipal University is yet another stellar performance from a sixth semester student, Vishnupriya Viswanathan, who bagged the first prize in the 18th Annual Berkeley Prize Essay Competition under the “International Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence” endorsed by Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley, USA.

Two weeks ago, Vinod Thomas had won the second prize for designing odorless and waterless toilet in a competition conducted by Research Designs and Standards Organization, Lucknow for Indian Railways.

“It means a lot to me,” said Vishnu who is keen to pursue Post Graduation in Architecture Criticism in the US or the UK after completing UG studies at FOA. “I was always interested in writing and this is going to be a big booster for me,” she added. “I want to be an architecture journalism that is why I thought of taking part in the essay to see for myself how best I can do it. I am surprised by the result,” Vishnu quipped.

The essay question was, “Architects Confronting Homelessness” and the guidelines for writing had two parts; who is doing what in your community to confront the issue of the men, women, young people and children without shelter, and, as both an individual and as a professional, how do you see yourself assisting in providing shelter to those in need? Vishnu’s 2500 words essay titled, “Paving Better Paths for Little Feet” won the first prize and a purse of $6000.

“Being the biggest competition of the kind for architecture students, it is a great achievement,” said Prof Nishant Manapure, Director FOA. “We are proud of her. Vishnu is one of the bright students and we are extremely thrilled at her achievement. She has brought laurels not only for the department and Manipal University, but also to the country,” Prof Nishant said and added, “She makes full use of the creative and intellectual platforms provided at Faculty of Architecture. We are proud of her”.

Being from Chennai, Vishnu based her essay on a script taken from the lives of hapless children being taken care of by Karunalaya, a social service organization run by Dr Paul Sunder Singh, which transforms the lives of these ill-fated children of Chennai’s beaches, streets, railways stations, bus stops and harbor. The two shelters run by Karunalaya is home to 36 boys and 29 girls. Vishnu gives a complete analysis of everything about the children. She portrays their past and present effectively in the essay and describes of the changes in their lives in the new setting.

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