RIBA announces President's Awards for Research 2013

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the winners of the President’s Awards for Research 2013. The awards recognise high-quality research and encourage its distribution and incorporation into the wider profession to foster innovation and strategic thinking.

The winners for the President’s Awards for Research 2013 are:

RIBA President's Award for Outstanding Master's Degree Thesis

Winner: Fay Al Khalifa of Sheffield University for An urban healing agenda for reform in Bahrain: where the dweller falls into the urban gap and the sailing boat hits the skyscraper.

Al Khalifa successfully tackled the implications of rapid change in Bahrain in a post-oil world in this well executed study. Although the struggle to find people willing to contribute is evident, the author has been able to consult with key players including the Bahrain Ministry of Culture and the University of Bahrain. This sophisticated MA is full of astute observations and recommendations; a relevant and important topic tackled well.

RIBA President's Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis

Winner: Ricardo Agarez of the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, for Regionalism, Modernism and Vernacular Tradition in the Architecture of the Algarve, Portugal, 1925 – 1965.

The level of rigour in Agarez’ thesis was impressive, with the student searching every planning application and building control entry in libraries over a 40 year period, leading to a total of over 700 referenced cases.  The narrative of the thesis records the development of the student’s ideas and maturation as a researcher, making it an engaging read.

Commendation: Yara Sharif of the University of Westminster for PhD by design: ‘Searching for spaces of possibilities and spaces of imagination within the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.’

A personal and emotional PhD topic to the author, the judges were pleased to read a study so engaged with the resolution of the issues.

RIBA President's Awards for Outstanding University-located Research

Winner: Adrian Forty of The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL for his book Concrete and Culture, a Material History.

The book approaches concrete – a material often despised but with incredible potential – from an aesthetic and social stance rather than a technical one.  It uses clever examples and is well-written. The judges consider the book an enjoyable read and a significant achievement.

Commendation: Wayne Forster of Cardiff University for Affordable housing system from locally grown softwoods: Ty Unnos.

The judges commended this research for being ahead of its time and with significant levels of rigour, integrity and value.  This accessible work was admirable in the researchers’ adherence to the research aims, while accommodating the briefs and needs of the project sponsors.

RIBA President's Awards for Outstanding Practice-located Research

Winner: Bill Dunster of the ZED Factory for ZEDlife.

The judges were impressed by this important portfolio of work, praising it for its scope, scale and ambition.  The emergent critical process was excellently communicated via the journey through the various pioneering projects around the world. 

RIBA President, Stephen Hodder said:

“Congratulations to this year’s winning and commended works, your research is highly valued across the profession and the wider built environment industry. Investment and recognition of research into architecture is vital, it provides a lasting legacy for society and reminds us all of the importance of innovation and strategic thinking in our everyday work.”

Chair of the Judging Panel, Greg Penoyre of Penoyre & Prasad said: 

“The 2013 Presidents Awards for Research shortlist were another wide ranging and high quality set of submissions representing an immense amount of work.  Across the four categories the panel reviewed research ranging from the theoretical and historical to the technical and design led. As always choosing the winners meant difficult decisions.  The submissions led to healthy discussions in the panel meetings around the relationship of research and architectural design.  There is no doubt this is an important issue, with research nourishing practice and increasingly, practice actively involved in research.  The panel were pleased to give awards and commendations to this years’ list of successful candidates.”


Notes to editors

  1. For press information contact Howard Crosskey in the RIBA Press Office: 020 7307 3761 howard.crosskey@riba.org
  2. The RIBA President's Awards for Research were established in order to reward and encourage outstanding research in architecture carried out by students, academics and practitioners.
  3. The awards are given in four categories: Master's, PhD, university and practice-located research
  4. Academia queries about the awards should be sent to email research@riba.org or by calling 020 7307 3714
  5. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members. Visit www.architecture.com or follow us at www.twitter.com/RIBA