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World’s best architecture student projects revealed

World’s best architecture student projects revealed

05 December 2018

The winners of the 2018 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) President’s Medals have been announced.

The RIBA Silver Medal (for the best design project produced at RIBA Part 2 or equivalent) has been awarded to Sonia Magdziarz (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL), for ‘How to Carve a Giant’. The project (tutored by Penelope Haralambidou, Michael Tite, and Keiichi Matsuda) explores the relationship that individuals and communities have with their cultural heritage.

How to Carve a Giant © Sonia Magdziarz

Sonia’s proposal physically carves a Finnish folk story into the fabric of a city and reinterprets contemporary typologies such as a library, workshop, and cultural archive to question whether we can preserve and disseminate knowledge. Sonia’s new building subtly emphasises the powerful role architects play in defining the cultural heritage and identity of communities.

Commendations in the RIBA Silver Medal category were given to:

  • Sam Coulton (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL) for ‘London Physic Gardens: A New Necropolis’
  • Kevin Herhusky (California Polytechnic State University) for ‘Infrastructures of Memory, Phygital Bodies in a Concrete Cloud’
  • Ruth McNickle (Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture) for ‘Tilling the Prado: A Furrow of Re-Construction’

The RIBA Bronze Medal (for the best design project produced at RIBA Part 1 or equivalent) went to Justin Bean (University of Bath) for ‘Dreaming of Electric Sheep’. For his project (tutored by Martin Gledhill and Frank Lyons), Justin has designed a hotel situated within an electrical substation.

An opulent hotel weaves between elements of an electrical substation inviting people to face a technology most would rather ignore © Justin Bean

Justin’s proposal explores the often uncomfortable relationship between humans and technology and questions whether that relationship should be complimentary instead of antagonistic. In science fiction, humans are often portrayed as being fascinated by machines and their role in future worlds, either relying on the machine to develop enhanced living standards or to threaten their livelihoods. Justin’s project proposes a physical space where the differences between human and artificial are no longer divergent, and the result is a resolved architectural piece that is both sophisticated and beautiful.

Commendations in the Bronze Medal category were given to:

  • Alexander Wilford (University of Greenwich) for ‘Smithfield Lorry Depot’
  • Camille Bongard (Architectural Association) for ‘A Choreographed Timeline, Rewriting RIBA Building Contract’
  • Sam Beattie (University of Nottingham) for ‘A Bridge to Wellness’

The RIBA Dissertation Medal was awarded to Rosemary Milne (Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture) for ‘Species of Nooks and Other Niches’.

Every nook is a house: at once attic, cellar and ground floor, a ‘corner house’ in Le Corbusier’s Petite Maison au bord du Lac Léman, 1923. Photograph by Martin-Gambier, Olivier (2005)

Rosie’s project looks at the obscurities and inefficiencies of the nook which has led it to become an endangered species of space, neglected in favour of efficiencies, transparencies and open-plan spaces. The dissertation examines the complex nature of the nook and emphasises its necessity and continued relevance for architectural practice and thought. The judges were unanimous in their assessment of the student as an important new talent and that a submission of this quality at undergraduate level is enormously impressive.

Commendations in the Dissertation Medal category were awarded to:

  • Ethan Loo (University of Sheffield) for ‘Reading the Past and the Faraway: Simulation, Meaning, and Macau’
  • Marie-Henriette Desmourès (London Metropolitan University) for ‘The Whole-body Seer: Blindness as Narrative, Subject and a Way of Seeing’
  • Mark Shtanov (University of Cambridge) for ‘Another Hotel in Africa: A New Prototype for a Community-Initiated, Phased West African Hotel Project with Attached Hospitality School, in Lekki, Nigeria’

The Serjeant Awards for Excellence in Drawing were presented to Camille Dunlop (RIBA Part 1, Bartlett School of Architecture) for ‘Pipeline Hijacking’ and Maria Marilia Lezou (RIBA Part 2, University of Greenwich) for ‘Hotel Mollino: Staging Spaces of the Everyday as Heterotopias of Performance in Scenography and Architecture’.

The UK office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) awarded the SOM Foundation Fellowships UK to Grey Grierson (RIBA Part 1 at Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL) for ‘Negotiation of States: A Crematorium and Columbarium in Hong Kong’ and Margaret Ndungu (RIBA Part 2 at De Montfort University) for ‘Wild City’.

RIBA President Ben Derbyshire said:

“The breadth and scale of talent evidenced in the design proposals and writings produced by this year’s winners is truly remarkable. This is an emerging generation of skilled thinkers who are able to distil complex ideas and resolve them into sophisticated architectural proposals. They are all talents to watch.”

The 2018 RIBA President’s Medals exhibition is at the RIBA in London from 5 December 2018 to 15 February 2019, before it tours throughout the UK and internationally.


Notes to editors:

1. For further press information contact 020 7307 3811

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. Also announced at the RIBA President’s Medals ceremony were the winners of the RIBA President’s Awards for Research and the RIBA Research Medal.

4. In 2018, the RIBA President’s Medals awards attracted the highest number of entries in its history: 328 design projects and dissertations were submitted by 101 schools of architecture located in 37 countries.

5. The President's Medals website 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.

6. This year’s judging panels included:

Silver Medal:

  • Chair: David Gloster (RIBA Director of Education)
  • Nicky Watson (RIBA Vice-President Education)
  • Yeoryia Manolopoulou (architect and Professor of Architecture and Experimental Practice at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)
  • Eva Franch i Gilabert (director of the Architectural Association)
  • Carol Patterson (architect, director at OMA)

Bronze Medal:

  • Chair: David Gloster (RIBA Director of Education)
  • Nicky Watson (RIBA Vice-President Education)
  • Josep-Maria Garcia-Fuentes (architect and Senior Lecturer in architecture at Newcastle University)
  • Henriette Helstrup (Director of Operations at Bjarke Ingels Group London)
  • Suzanne Ewing (architect and Head of the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture)
  • Harbinder Birdi (Senior Partner at Hawkins\Brown architects)

Dissertation Medal:

  • Chair: Dr Harriet Harriss (Reader in Architectural Education, Royal College of Art)
  • Professor Kian Goh (UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs)
  • Professor Lesley Lokko (architect, novelist, and Head of the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg)
  • Professor Soumyen Bandyopadhyay (Head of School and Sir James Stirling Chair in Architecture at the University of Liverpool)

7. 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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