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University of Hawaii At Manoa

October 4, 2012


University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa School of Architecture graduate student Sofija Kavcic took second place in the International Council for Caring Communities (ICCC) Student Design Competition.

The contest, titled Integrated Communities: A Society for All Ages, challenged students to explore solutions that integrate older persons into the fabric of the community. Winners were announced recently in Naples, Italy and included students from eight countries including China, Guatemala, Ireland, Sudan, South Korea, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and the United States – Kavcic is the only winner from the United States.

“The student designs succeed on several levels: their thoughtful research and responsiveness to the needs of older persons; the balance of creativity and practicality and ultimately, their youthful optimism which will benefit us all,” Professor Dianne Davis, founding president of the ICCC. “The fast approaching ‘agequake’ makes it vital that this phenomenon of aging be studied and approached by students in a pro-active manner.”

Kavcic’s design, Kakaako Building Blocks, envisions a vibrant multi-generational neighborhood fused by functional city blocks that keep families close.  Daycare for seniors and young children is combined and contained within a common living area. Facilities for recreation, exercise, education, public services, retail and health care are all accessible via walkable pathways within a city block. 

Kavcic explains, “The flexibility of the architectural programming is ensured by the use of modularity. The typical unit assembly system resembles the building blocks toy assembly system, hence the name Building Blocks.”

As a winner, Kavcic will present her design at United Nations’ headquarters in New York City on October 1, 2012 as part of the UN World Habitat Day.

“This award comes as the result of the education and research I have done during my doctorate studies at UH. The trip to New York is a great opportunity for me to present my project and represent the School of Architecture,” says Kavcic. “United Nations Ambassadors and officials, world leaders, private sector and related experts will also be presenting at the high-level session, so I feel honored to be invited. It’s certainly a confirmation that my choice of UH was the right one.”

Professor Spencer Leineweber, FAIA, Chair of Professional Programs at the School of Architecture, served as mentor to Kavcic on the project. Prior collaborations also resulted in awards for Kavcic, but none as prestigious as the ICCC contest.

“She has provided tremendous support to me throughout my studies and on this particular project,” says Kavcic. “She helped me crystallize ideas and pull it all together. I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Kavcic is enrolled in the D Arch program at UH Manoa’s School of Architecture – the only NAAB accredited Doctor of Architecture in the United States and Canada. She holds a Dipl.-Ing. (M.S. equivalent) diploma in Architecture from the University of Belgrade. After graduation she plans to specialize in designing high-profile urban dwellings.

More information about this year’s contest and awards can be found at

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