'Fight for justice publicly and politically': Forensic Architecture receives 2022 RIBA Charles Jencks Award
By Josh Niland|
Friday, Dec 9, 2022
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), in collaboration with the Jencks Foundation, have jointly announced activist studio Forensic Architecture as the winner of this year’s RIBA Charles Jencks Award in recognition of their contributions to both the theory and practice of architecture.
Founded in 2010, the 12-year-old research agency is known throughout the community for its investigations into state terror, surveillance culture, the use of archaeology as a cultural weapon in the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, the murder of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and other human rights crimes.
Under the directorship of Eyal Weizman, the Goldsmiths, University of London-based agency has worked with international NGOs and several grassroots activist groups. Their work has established them as a critical and important voice for the voiceless. Recent developments at the University of Manchester and with U.S. immigration authorities have only proven the challenging nature of the group's work. This year they were honored with the 2022 Peabody Award for their groundbreaking contributions to online media.
"We are particularly honored to be this year’s recipients of the RIBA Charles Jencks Award for two reasons," Weizman explained. "Firstly, it’s the first honor we received from the architectural establishment, and we are delighted the discipline demonstrates its commitment to grow and accommodate practices such as ours, which have been launched from architecture in different destinations. We hope that the award helps inspire architects to use their disciplinary tools to fight for justice publicly and politically. It is also an honor because of my friendship with and longstanding admiration of Charles, who supported the work of FA over the years. To be awarded this prize now is thus bittersweet, as we would have loved to celebrate it with him."
Lily Jencks, founder of the Jencks Foundation shared, "We are thrilled to award the 2022 RIBA Jencks Award to Forensic Architecture and celebrate their work with a lecture at the 'House of Architecture.' The award is for the simultaneous contribution to architecture practice and theory. We applaud Forensic Architecture as a hybrid practice that is both architecture (understood most broadly as the execution of work that changes the spatial and material relationships between people), and theory- (their studies that create that work). While they do not build buildings, each line of enquiry by Forensic Architecture seeks to effect direct change in the physical world around issues of social justice, using the tools of architects in atypical but masterful ways."
The group joins past winners Anupama Kundoo, Débora Mesa and Antón García-Abril of Ensamble Studio, Níall McLaughlin, Herzog & de Meuron, Zaha Hadid, and Rem Koolhaas, among others. In addition to the £3,000 prize, Forensic Architecture will deliver a lecture at RIBA’s 66 Portland Place on February 22, 2023. More information about attending the lecture can be found here.
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