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RIBA 2021 Global Architecture photography competition - 12 winners from four international regions announced

The Global Architecture photography competition was open to participants from across the world to create a global portrait of the state of the built environment with respect to sustainability. We are delighted to announce the top three winners from four international regions.

11 October 2021

The RIBA consists of a global network of architects dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the built environment. To challenge the climate crisis, the RIBA has developed the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge and the Built Environment Summit. The RIBA Global Architecture photography competition aims to showcase the varied views of the RIBA’s global networks of architects’ perspectives on the link between sustainability and architecture. The aim is to form a collective global portrait of the state of the built environment with respect to sustainability through a series of regional images.


The theme of the competition was sustainability and architecture; focusing on the link between the natural environment and built environment through the lens of sustainability.

Global Architecture photography competition jury members

We received 147 photographs from the four international regions: RIBA Asia and Australasia, RIBA Middle East and Africa, RIBA Europe (including the UK) and RIBA Americas on sustainability and architecture. All entries were first judged by our internal jury to select a shortlist of 15 photographs from each international region. 12 winning photographs were then be selected from the shortlist by our Grand Jury.

This shortlist's internal jury panel consists of individuals who have expertise in architectural photography:

  • Chloe Spiby Loh - Public Programmes Manager, RIBA
  • Justine Sambrook - Curator, The Robert Elwall Photographs Collection, RIBA British Architectural Library

The Grand Jury consists of three renowned experts within their fields:

  • Iwan Baan, Head of Jury - Iwan is a Dutch photographer with a focus on images that show how individuals, communities, and societies create, and interact, within their built environment. He is the inaugural recipient of the Julius Shulman award for photography and has won numerous awards, including the Golden Lion for Best Installation at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale
  • Ma Yansong - Founder of MAD Architects, Ma leads design across various scales, with the vision to create a new balance among society, the city, and the environment through architecture. At MAD, Ma's work includes Absolute Towers, Harbin Opera House, Hutong Bubbles, Chaoyang Park Plaza, Quzhou Sports Park, and Yiwu Grand Theater. In 2014, Ma was selected as the principal designer for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which made him the first Chinese architect to design an overseas culture landmark.
  • Valeria Carullo - Valeria is RIBA's Photographs Curator. She has a Master's degree in Architecture and has curated and co-curated several exhibitions, in the UK and abroad, including her latest Eternal City: Rome in the Photographs Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects (Vittoriano, Rome, 2018) and Beyond Bauhaus: Modernism in Britain 1933-66 (RIBA Architecture Gallery, 2019). In 2014 she organised the RIBA international photography symposium Building with Light: The Legacy of Robert Elwall, and also co-organised the RIBA biannual Colin Rowe Lecture series.


We are delighted to announce that the winners of the top three extraordinary photographs from the four international regions have been selected for the 2021 RIBA Global Architecture photography competition. These photos shine the best light on the respective regional architecture, people, and the environment as each winner presented their unique understanding of the relationship between architecture and sustainability.

The top winner from each region will join Head of Jury, Iwan Baan on 25 November for a livestream webinar to present their winning entries. The top three images from each region (12 images) are also featured in the 2022 RIBA Calendar (downloadable PDF) and will become part of the RIBA Photographs Collection - one of the largest repositories of architectural photographs in the world.

Explore the top winner from each region of the RIBA 2021 Global Architecture photography competition below:

Winner - Asia and Australia region

Landforms, Photographer: Chen Guanhong

Title: Landforms

Photographer: Chen Guanhong

Caption: From the bird's-eye view, you can only see the buildings of the garden and the stadium runway, under which is the office space. The office building that maximizes the greening and outdoor space provides a more natural and environment-friendly healthy working and living space.

Winner - Europe region

The Veretyevo Park (2021), Photographer: Yuri Palmin

Title: The Veretyevo Park (2021)

Photographer: Yuri Palmin

Caption: The Veretyevo Park (2021) is the most recent work by Russian architect Alexander Brodsky. It is an intervention in a forested floodplain near Dubna in the Moscow region. The footpaths over the swamp and pavilions mostly built out of salvaged timber from the nearby deserted villages are subject to natural ageing and change together with plants and trees of the park.

Comment from Head of Jury, Iwan Baan:

"Beautiful atmospheric image of architecture which tries to touch nature as little as possible..."

Winner from Middle East and Africa region

BREEZE OF HOPE, Photographer: Yoann Plourde


Photographer: Yoann Plourde

Caption: Terra - The Sustainability Pavilion of Dubai Expo 2020 was designed by the UK based firm Grimshaw and is a remarkable example of thoughtful responsible architecture. As you approach the building, its unique design features seem to emerge from the ground; inviting you to an introspective journey. Through its extensive educational vocation, the pavilion opens a window towards the Earth’s global warming situation and how today’s choices will impact the generations to come.

The pavilion’s hi-tech style showcases both modern and vernacular strategies to achieve its breathtaking self-sufficient design. This centrepiece, for example, is a contemporary interpretation of the traditional wind tower, used for centuries as a passive way to generate a cooling breeze during the Middle East hot summers.

While Terra speaks to its visitors with a reassuring calm, it also passes a clear message about the current global situation and how everyone’s contribution is crucial in order to preserve the Earth’s natural Equilibrium.

Comment from Head of Jury, Iwan Baan:

"A nice architectural image of an example of how architects try to work sustainably."

Winner from Americas region

Enlace sensorial, Photographer: Joel Alonso Rodriguez Davila

Title: Enlace sensorial

Photographer: Joel Alonso Rodriguez Davila

Caption: The image was taken in the ecological reserve of Cotopaxi Park, Ecuador, the composition attempts to transmit to the public the delicate intervention on the site, which beyond solving a connection problem between both banks, allows a more intimate relationship with the context, being A scanning process walking in it.

Comment from Head of Jury, Iwan Baan:

"This image shows for me the fragility of that landscape and how a lightweight architectural structure can connect the place and the minimal impact it tries to have on that landscape."

The complete list of the winning projects can be viewed here (PDF).

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