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RIBA announces winners of 2020 President’s Medals

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 President’s Medals, the annual awards for the world’s best student architecture projects.

02 December 2020

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 President’s Medals, the annual awards for the world’s best student architecture projects.

Top: Devil’s Valley Geothermal Co-operative, Robert Beeny; Bottom right: Cesspits of Filth: Queer Vernaculars in West Yorkshire 1975 –1985, Lizzie Osborne; Bottom left: One Tree Manual, Tengku Sharil Bin Tengku Abdul Kadir

The RIBA Silver Medal (for the best design project produced at RIBA Part 2 or equivalent) is awarded to Robert Beeny (University of Westminster) for Devil’s Valley Geothermal Co-operative.

This project is situated in an area of Tuscany, Italy known as the Devil’s Valley, which has become known for its production of renewable and geothermal energy over the past century. To protect the livelihood of local communities relying on that energy source, Robert proposes a new rural self-build development, powered by a geothermal well, with a pipeline and manufacturing spaces cascading down the valley landscape.

Commendations in the RIBA Silver Medal category:

  • Lisa Edwards (University of Kent) for Reclaiming the Sento.
  • Daniel Tihanyi (University of Strathclyde) for Preservation & Enhancement: Vision for a Yemeni Mountain Settlement.
  • Yip Wing Siu (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL) for Designing With Bata: New Doggerlands, A Dynamic Masterplan for Enabling the East Tilbury Commons.

The RIBA Bronze Medal (for the best design project produced at RIBA Part 1 or equivalent) goes to Tengku Sharil Bin Tengku Abdul Kadir (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL) for One Tree Manual.

One Tree Manual explores timber production and waste in Sweden, in light of the climate emergency. Sharil proposes a timber institute in suburban Stockholm, strategically located in Stockholm’s unprotected forest region, and constructed using a single tree – advocating a sustainable and holistic approach.

Commendations in the RIBA Bronze Medal category:

  • Kate Buurman (Newcastle University) for The Mothers of Gingerbread.
  • Nabil Haque (University of Cambridge) for Mono No Aware.
  • Heba Mohsen (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL) for Florida Peak.

The RIBA Dissertation Medal is awarded to Lizzie Osborne (University of Huddersfield) for Cesspits of Filth: Queer Vernaculars in West Yorkshire 1975 -1985.

Lizzie’s dissertation studies the history of The Gemini Club, Huddersfield's iconic gay club in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which was closed in 1983 following a series of raids. Their dissertation reflects on the impact of police brutality, the surveillance of queer spaces and the emergence of subcultures within the town – and the importance of studying their influence on the development of architectural design.

Commendations in the RIBA Dissertation Medal category go to:

  • Amy Bettinson (University of Westminster) for A Laboratory for Contextualism.
  • Joanna Leigh-Bedford (University of Cambridge) for Peace in the Pipelines: Hydro-Social Infrastructure Development in Bosnia’s Urban Borderland.
  • Jordan Whitewood-Neal (University of Brighton) for The Floor is Lava: An Autoethnographic Study of Non-Normative Embodiment and the Entangled Ontologies of Body, Tool and Landscape.

Recognising the importance of climate action in the development of architectural design proposals, the RIBA is awarding the RIBA Awards for Sustainable Design for the second year. At Part 1, the award went to Sonakshi Pandit (Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture) for Urban Ca[r]talyser, and at Part 2 went to Aisling Mulligan (University College Dublin) for A Methodology for Reuse: Embracing a Circular Economy in a Carbon-Conscious Construction Sector.

The Serjeant Awards for Excellence in Drawing have been awarded to Edwin Davis Maliakkal (University of Nottingham) for The Fifth Orchestration at Part 1, and to Aine Walker (University College Cork) for Anamnesis: Connective (Re)Collections at Part 2.

RIBA President Alan Jones said:

“I am inspired by the range of exceptional proposals with climate emergency, ethics, equity and social purpose at the heart of their investigation and problem solving. The RIBA President’s Medals continue to acknowledge work of the highest calibre, and technical and social relevance, essential to future architects wishing to tackle our global challenges. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners, and thank you to the schools of architecture and the tutors, who have educated and nurtured their talent.”


Notes to editors:

  1. For further press information contact Emily Stallard in the RIBA Press Office: 020 7307 3813
  2. Images from this year’s winners can be downloaded here.
  3. The RIBA President’s Medals were established in 1836 and are the RIBA’s oldest awards. features all nominations made since 1998. The site includes a comprehensive visual archive of tens of thousands of images and statements produced by students, as well as photographs and films of the judging of entries, the awards ceremonies, and interviews with the winners.
  4. In 2020 the RIBA President’s Medals had the highest ever number of entries in their 184-year-old history: 336 entries nominated by 118 schools of architecture located in 32 countries. Six of this year’s nominees (including one medal winner) were recipients of a RIBA bursary or scholarship. The RIBA is committed to supporting students through its bursaries and scholarships programme and celebrating excellence in architectural education.
  5. This year’s judging panels included:

Silver Medal:

  • Chair: David Gloster (RIBA Director of Education)
  • Nicky Watson (elected RIBA Council member; RIBA Board Trustee; Chair of the RIBA Education Committee)
  • Arthur Mamou Mani (Director of Mamou-Mani Architects; Lecturer at the University of Westminster)
  • Mauricio Pezo (Founder of Pezo von Ellrichshausen; Associate Professor of the Practice at AAP Cornell University)
  • Ola Uduku (Research Professor in Architecture at the Manchester School of Architecture)
  • Lily Jencks (Co-founder of JencksSquared; Founder of Lily Jencks Studio; teacher at the Architectural Association, London)

Bronze Medal:

  • Chair: David Gloster (RIBA Director of Education)
  • Nicky Watson (elected RIBA Council member; RIBA Board Trustee; Chair of the RIBA Education Committee)
  • Tara Gbolade (Co-founder of Gbolade Design Studio; Co-developer of the Architects App)
  • Sara Shafiei (Co-founder of Saraben Studio; Director of the MSci Architecture Programme at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)
  • Graham Farmer (Head of Architecture in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University)
  • Oliver Froome-Lewis (Programme Director of the BSc in Architecture at the University of Reading)

Dissertation Medal:

  • Chair: Harriet Harriss (Dean of Architecture at the Pratt Institute, NY, USA)
  • Ben Campkin (Professor of History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL and Co-Director of the UCL Urban Laboratory)
  • Dr Samia Henni (Assistant Professor of History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism at Cornell University, USA; Director of the Society of Architectural Historians)
  • Dr Dorian Wiszniewski (senior academic at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture; Co-founder of Wiszniewski Thomson Architects)
  • Dr Mia Roth-Čerina (Associate Professor at the Department of Architectural Design at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Zagreb)
  1. Arper are proud to sponsor the RIBA President’s Medals, and to support the Royal Institute of British Architects in celebrating the most prestigious prizes in architectural education globally. Arper is a leading Italian company that creates chairs, tables, and furnishings for community, work and home. Founded in 1989, it distinguished itself right from the start for its innovative products and state of the art processes, as well as for its international approach. The DNA of the brand, which approaches design as a means of action and communication, expresses itself through a special focus on colour and system flexibility, in a constant dialogue between form and function. The company is growing thanks to organizational policies that unfailingly foster transparency and the promotion of a strong, consistent brand identity. With headquarters in Monastier di Treviso, Italy, Arper has 12 showrooms based in major world capitals, six subsidiaries based in London, New York, Dubai, Tokyo, Mexico City and Shanghai, two meeting hubs and three branches (Sweden, Belgium, Singapore).
  2. RIBA Future Architects is our network and community for future and emerging architects, designed to support, inspire and provide a voice during the transition from study to practice. Follow us on Instagram @RIBAEducation for advice and information about studying architecture, exclusive events and opportunities.
  3. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates.

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