Architectural graduate student places in international design competition

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Michelle Cabalse, (808) 956-3469
Communications Specialist, School of Architecture
Posted: Oct 11, 2012

Sofija Kavcic
Sofija Kavcic

UH Manoa 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.  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,” said 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 presented her design at United Nations’ headquarters in New York City as part of the U.N. World Habitat Day.


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.


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.



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