RIBA President's Medals Student Awards 2013
all go to one London school

| 22 comments

RIBA President's Medals Student Awards - Kizhi Island by Ben Hayes

News: students from the Bartlett School of Architecture have cleaned up at the RIBA President's Medals Student Awards this evening, with winning projects including a floating community centre for the Helsinki archipelago and a proposal to rebuild 250 Russian churches.

RIBA President's Medals Student Awards - Kizhi Island by Ben Hayes
Kizhi Island by Ben Hayes

The medals, which are awarded annually by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to three architecture graduates, have for the first time in the programme's history been given to individuals who all studied at the same university - the Bartlett School of Architecture in London.

RIBA President's Medals Student Awards - Kizhi Island by Ben Hayes
Kizhi Island by Ben Hayes restoration sequence

Ben Hayes received the Bronze Silver Medal for his project Kizhi Island, which proposes the reconstruction of 250 wooden Orthodox churches on a six-kilometre-wide isle in northern Russia.

RIBA President's Medals Student Awards - Kizhi Island by Ben Hayes
Kizhi Island by Ben Hayes curation timeline - click for larger image

The Part II graduate analysed the influence of romanticism on the ecclesiastical architecture of the former Soviet Union, before designing a museum and restoration centre to facilitate the dismantling and restoration of different kinds of churches.

RIBA President's Medals Student Awards - Kizhi Island by Ben Hayes
Kizhi Island by Ben Hayes restoration facility - click for larger image

The Silver Bronze Medal was awarded to Part I graduate Ness Lafoy for her design for a community hub serving the 50,000 residents of the archipelago surrounding Helsinki.

RIBA President's Medals Student Awards - Helsinki Archipelago Town Hall by Ness Lafoy
Helsinki Archipelago Town Hall by Ness Lafoy

The conceptual Helsinki Archipelago Town Hall comprises a floating clubhouse and hotel to accommodate islanders travelling to the mainland. It would incorporate a postal service for remote islands, as well as a council meeting place for addressing transport issues.

RIBA President's Medals Student Awards - Helsinki Archipelago Town Hall by Ness Lafoy
Helsinki Archipelago Town Hall interior by Ness Lafoy

The Dissertation Medal, which is awarded in recognition of a research project, was given to Tamsin Hanke for Magnitogorsk: Utopian vision of spatial socialism. This theoretical research explores how a socialist political ideology was developed in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk between 1930 and 1953.

RIBA President's Medals Student Awards - Helsinki Archipelago Town Hall by Ness Lafoy
Helsinki Archipelago Town Hall daily routine by Ness Lafoy

Speaking about the winners, RIBA President Stephen Hodder said: "They overcame intense competition from the best students of architecture around the world and truly shined with their innovative, challenging and thought-provoking projects."

RIBA President's Medals Student Awards - Helsinki Archipelago Town Hall by Ness Lafoy
Helsinki Archipelago Town Hall night view by Ness Lafoy

"This is an unprecedented achievement," said Bartlett director Marcos Cruz. "It's due to the extraordinary talent and dedication of our students and staff. It is also a reflection of the school's commitment to keeping our staff and students at the forefront of innovation, ideas, and excellence in architecture."

The medal recipients were announced in a ceremony this evening at the RIBA headquarters in London.

  • BMAN

    You need to check the typos as the Silver was actually won by Ben Hayes and the Bronze by Ness Lafoy – apart from that congratulations to the winners.

  • Tim Wolfe-Murray

    I think the Silver medal probably went to a Part II student!

    Looks like Neil Spiller’s departure a few years ago has not held the Bartlett back.

  • Jennie

    Yes, because what Russia really needs is to rebuild 250 of its Orthodox churches on a remote island.

  • lozza

    Architecture or Graphic Design awards?

    • Nathan

      Indeed. Architecture education means graphic design for the most part now. Or film making if you look at last years award relating to robots. How anyone (esp. RIBA) can take themselves seriously after this is beyond me. This is not solving our problems through design.

    • terry

      You must be a graphic designer then, if you can only make comments on the aesthetics. Perhaps have the courtesy of informing yourself and read the text before you make silly comments on well deserved student’s work.

  • Luke

    There has always been a London bias but this is too much.

  • http://www.dezeen.com/ Dezeen Magazine

    Well spotted, thanks for correcting us! Amy/Dezeen

  • Mark

    People say it’s all graphics, aesthetics, style. Where’s the substance?

    That’s because your eyes stop at them. I’m a former Bartlett student and I hear that all the time. People like to pick on the school who’s been voted top architectural school.

    Find me a school that is more culturally aware, more passionate and meticulous in its work, more varied in its research, that produces students with such impeccable eyes?

    They don’t really teach you a lot about architecture at the Bartlett, they soak you with a neat group of people in the field of architecture and let you suss out your own way. It’s fun, liberating and produces some spectacular outcomes.

    Some people think that’s not architecture, some people question what architecture is each and every day.

    Immensely proud of what the Bartlett boys and girls achieved this year. Well done.

  • MIKE

    Interesting projects. At least recently in the UK we have distanced ourselves from dystopian graphics. The Part I project seems especially optimistic and socially driven. But I still think there is too many stylised graphics and not enough models and materiality.

    • Dave

      Materials and functions are done in technical studies, which is a separate module.

  • david

    Fantastic projects. I have worked with many conservationists and carried out a lot research in Karelia and the Russian north, and it’s about time someone challenged the Russian Ministry of Culture on why they give no funding to this dying heritage!

  • adam

    I am normally not one for the Bartlett (the AA is still miles better!), but unlike many many previous years, these projects all seem to be dealing with REAL issues, not fantasy. Don’t worry, I even read the blurb on the President’s medals. I hope future student work will keep moving in this direction. Well done!

    • Steeevyo

      If the AA is still miles better then why don’t their graduates even know how to properly draw plan section and elevation? Mixing trained arrogance, sense of entitlement, overblown rhino/3D skills with zero basic drafting skills is quite toxic if you work in the real world on real projects.

      Where I work the AA people are the worst by a huge margin. They think a job is a continuation of the AA studio system, only show enthusiasm for doing funky stuff and put up a face when they have to do things that actually make the office money and which is actually part of the architects job description. Then they do the most basic tasks so badly it has to be reviewed 15 times before it is right. Yeah the AA. Awesome school, if you don’t have to work with them…

  • lozza

    I’m an architect. I did read and formed my opinion based on factors very different from aesthetics. What shines in these works is the package, much more than the relevancy of the content.
    I feel that students, especially these days, should not be encouraged to get out of touch with reality, and to back my point I second Jennie’s post from above.

  • Cornell_Bramm

    “all go to ONE London school”… Shady award business.

    • Luke

      “…have for the FIRST TIME IN THE PROGRAMME’S HISTORY been given to individuals who all studied at the same university.”

  • J

    I do love the Helsinki project graphically, but mostly because it shows for the first time in goodness knows how long that a Bartlett (or for that matter) AA student knows what the inside of a building actually looks like (rather than a layered photoshop collage or film) and how timber beams might be constructed. It’s an actual building! It’s thought out! It’s designed for people!

    The Kizhi Island one is all about photoshop as usual. The Russian church – yes all very beautifully presented but if when I was a student at Cardiff I had put a plan up showing ‘turn table’ for complete rebuilt churches to presumably be then taken off somehow to be placed back in their original location I’d have been laughed out the school.

    Place, context, texture, tectonics. Only one project – and rather pleasingly the Part I student – has this.

    • blobface

      To be fair, there is a technical studies module even for undergraduates where you have to know how your building works. It’s not uncommon at all for students there to make documented 1:1 tests with real materials to test their otherwise “out there” concepts. Just because the snaps for the award entries didn’t show it in the projects you have seen, doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

      The problem Steeevyo pointed out about AA (or Bartlett students for that matter) is that, as a part 1, even if you’re a RIBA medalists, you are no exception, and nobody likes to do a door schedule let alone people who’ve spent three years indirectly deluded into thinking a career in architecture could be like being a sci-fi movie production designer in real life.

      Sadly, while they are taught to design philosophically layered conceptual social commentary that will shape the hypothetical future, which might win you prizes, the real world gives exactly zero shit, they just want their doors correctly coded.

  • bill

    Architectural projects that deal with heritage seem to be in this year!

  • J.Parling

    They are beautiful, what a shame nothing is being done to preserve them. Great project.