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Winners of 2011 RIBA President's Awards for Research announced


21 October 2011

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The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the winners of the 2011 RIBA President's Awards for Research which reward and encourage outstanding research in architecture.

Awards are presented in three categories:

  • RIBA President's Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis
  • RIBA President's Award for Outstanding University-located Research
  • RIBA President's Award for Outstanding Professional Practice-located Research

This year, the RIBA President's Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis was awarded to Milinda Pathiraja of the University of Melbourne for his thesis 'The function of robust technology in the construction of a "third world" practice: architecture, design and labour training'. The judges for the awards said:

'This is a huge and far-reaching study that addresses the very real problems of meaningful, lasting and achievable development across the ‘developing world’.  It carries a relevant and accessible message for architects in the developing world but which applies equally to the UK context. As a ground-breaking, cross-disciplinary investigation, it is an excellent example of how research that joins up issues across the construction industry might be carried out.'

Tatjana Schneider and Jeremy Till of the Universities of Sheffield and Westminster were awarded the RIBA President's Award for Outstanding University-located Research for their work Spatial Agency. The judges said:

'Describing a series of case-study projects that are marginal to the mainstream activities of the architectural profession, unofficial and informal practices, this is a timely study; it raises issues that are vital for the future.'  

Two commendations were also awarded in this category: Brian Ford of the University of Nottingham for his book Passive and Hybrid Downdraught Cooling (PHDC), of which the judges said: 

'This provides a rigorous and concise source of practical design guidance on downdraught cooling systems, moving existing technology forward and into more widespread use in the 21st century'; and Jane Rendell of the Bartlett School of Architecture for her collection of essays Site –Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism, of which the judges said: 'Raising fundamental questions about our rapport with objects and space, this book has the potential to become an important reference for alternative theoretical discourses in architecture.'

The RIBA President's Award for Outstanding Professional Practice-located Research was awarded to Joanne Denison and Chris Halligan of Stephen George & Partners for their project Building Materials and the Environment. Commenting on the project, the judges said:

'This is a well presented and highly readable compendium of construction materials and their environmental impact. It is written in a language that will sustain both the uninitiated and the comparative expert.' 

Indy Johar of Architecture 00:/ was commended for his project Compendium for the Civic Economy. The judges said: 

'A topical source of inspiration and information for organisations and individuals embarking on collaborative community regeneration and place-shaping projects, this work is highly original and may be the first book of this kind written by an architectural practice.'

Speaking today, Professor Andrew Ballantyne, chair of the judging panel, said:

'The RIBA President’s Awards are now well-established, and are attracting ever more entries. Architecture is so varied and touches so many aspects of our lives that it generates research across a wide spectrum. We need to know about technique - how things are done and also how things might be done. We also need to know how buildings can move us, and how we bond with them.

It is a complex task to adjudicate across this range of competition, but the judging process was marked by the broad expertise that was brought to the table, by the good-natured exchanges and the appreciation of the work under scrutiny. A consensus emerged, and we have some worthy winners. There is much to learn from them, and we hope that the profession will find the work thought-provoking, challenging and useful.'

The judges were impressed by the diversity of entries to all three categories. The awards will be presented to the winners at the annual RIBA President's Student Medals Awards ceremony on 7 December 2011, at the RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD.

Notes to editors

For further press information, contact Tessa Kordeczka in the RIBA Press Office on 020 7307 3761, tessa.kordeczka@riba.org.

Links to winning and commended projects:

Tatjana Schneider and Jeremy Till: Spatial Agency: http://www.spatialagency.net/

Brian Ford: Passive and Hybrid Downdraught Cooling: http://www.phdc.eu/

Joanne Denison and Chris Hallligan: Building Materials and the Environment: http://www.stephengeorge.co.uk/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&layout=item&id=119&Itemid=99

Indy Johar: Compendium for the Civic Economy: http://www.nesta.org.uk/assets/features/compendium_for_the_civic_economy

The RIBA's Research and Development Department launched the RIBA President's Awards for Research in 2005 to reward and encourage outstanding research in architecture carried out by PhD students, academics and practitioners. The awards promote and champion high-quality research and encourage its dissemination and incorporation into the knowledge base of the profession. The awards raise the profile of architects, practitioners and academics engaged in outstanding research, and raise awareness of the need for research across the profession that fosters innovation and strategic thinking.

The judging panel is appointed by the RIBA Research and Development Committee and approved by the RIBA President. This year's panel was chaired by Andrew Ballantyne (University of Newcastle) and included Felipe Hernandez (University of Cambridge), Doina Petrescu (University of Sheffield), Jonathan Hale (University of Nottingham), Greg Penoyre (Penoyre & Prasad), and Sarah Wigglesworth (Sarah Wigglesworth Architects), with specialist technical expertise provided by the BRE.

All entries were assessed for their contribution to new knowledge and understanding to architecture, taking into account originality, significance and rigour. The winning projects must be regarded as an exceptional contribution to architectural knowledge.


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