The President’s Awards for Research celebrate the best research in the fields of architecture and the built environment and have again attracted interest from around the globe, with entries from China to Peru. The scope of entries continues to illustrate a strong focus on people and community over buildings, featuring parallel themes such as social injustice and climate change. In fact, it is difficult not to be struck by the complimentary nature of this year’s shortlist with that of previous years.
Last year’s ‘Architects at a time of War’ raised serious concerns about the nature of future development in war-torn Syria, while this year’s ‘The Gulf in Bosnia Herzegovina’ can be read as a validation of the very same concerns. ‘Providing Care Quality by Design’ resonates with last year’s Ethics and Sustainable Development winner ‘Redesigning Prisons’, demonstrating how the nature of design influences the outcomes of activities undertaken within a space. ‘Papered Spaces’ reveals how seemingly simple bureaucratic tools of Empire not only enabled a system of control and repression but also influenced the very infrastructure and architecture of Empire; the lessons of the past providing a stark reminder for us to question the nature of the systems in which we are embedded today.
The challenge to social and cultural norms that perpetuate global inequality and climate injustice cuts across the categories, and we ignore them at our peril.
The winning papers and medallist will be announced at this year’s President’s Medals ceremony at the RIBA, in London, on the 3 December 2019.