Continuing their work to recognize the valuable contributions of academics and researchers to the architectural field, the Royal Institute of Architects (RIBA) has announced its annual winners of the President’s Medal and Awards for Research.
The 186th edition of the program saw UCL Bartlett School student Annabelle Tan taking home the RIBA Silver Medal for her investigation into notions of ‘tropicality’ in the context of Singapore titled 'A Journey through Past, Present and Post-Tropicality.’ Tan also took home RIBA Dissertation Medal honors for a related thesis project titled 'Past, Present and Post-Tropicality: Viewing Singapore through an ‘Infra(-)structural’ Field.'
The Bronze Medal was awarded to Part 1 student Mary Holmes of the University of Cambridge for her work titled ‘Out of the Closet, Into the Garden,’ which “proposes the queering and retrofitting of two rows of terraced houses in the heart of a suburb in Harlow.”
RIBA’s Serjeant Awards for Excellence in Drawing was awarded to Falmouth University student Nathan Tipping-Stevenson for ‘Leow Keskorra ha Dyski: A Place to Assemble and Learn’ at Part 1, and Nadir Qazim Mahmood of the Manchester School of Architecture for his work ‘Nirvana’ at Part 2.
Additionally, the 4th annual RIBA Awards for Sustainable Design were given to University of Edinburgh student Inka Eismar at the Part 1 level for ‘Common Ground | Leith.’ At the Part 2 level, Tan was again commended for her ‘tropicality’ dissertation.
Finally, the Annie Spink Award was given to former University of Greenwich and University of Westminster in London Professor Kester Rattenbury for her three decades of scholarship and instruction, throughout which she has “cemented herself as a fixture and guiding light in architectural education,” according to RIBA President Simon Alford.
“This year’s RIBA President’s Medals celebrate the talent and work of architecture students from around the world. The record number of entries this year address contemporary topics with immense social and environmental significance. As ever, the range, scope, and scale of their inquiry is extremely impressive,” Alford added in a statement. “We have been running these awards for many decades and opened them up to the wider world of non-validated schools when I was VP for education over a decade ago. As well as being a celebration of this year's student preoccupations, the work now adds to our quite extraordinary archive of a long history of student inquiry.”
RIBA Silver Medal and Award for Sustainable Design (Part 2): ‘A Journey through Past, Present and Post-Tropicality' by Annabelle Tan (University College London)
Abstract: "The project is an investigation into notions of ‘tropicality’ in the context of Singapore. Historically, concepts of nature, comfort, civil behaviour and progress have been shaped by depoliticised agendas grouped under the umbrella of ‘tropicality’. Framing ‘tropicality’ in terms of scarcity and affordances, the project ‘unmakes’ colonial vestiges of ‘tropical success’ that linger in our infrastructure and ‘remakes’ a landscape of affordances. Tangible and intangible resources of food, water, energy, land, material, labour, biodiversity and civic space are explored to divulge the multifarious — and sometimes insidious — aspects of ‘tropicality’."
RIBA Bronze Medal: ‘Out of the Closet, Into the Garden’ by Mary Holmes (University of Cambridge)
Abstract: "A space to age in place, to age together, is a privilege that many, particularly those within the queer community, do not have. Learning from the spatial practices of the queer and feminist squatters of the late twentieth century this project explores the possibility of an almshouse for queer elders. It is a deeply personal, emotional project; a chance for me to imagine my own queer utopia. To challenge our current reality through this act of imagination. It is a protest and a provocation within and against a system of architectural education that continues to exclude queer theory, queer practices, from its teaching. It challenges, demands more. Strives through and beyond architecture towards enduring queer grounds. Spaces that we can wander from and return to. A queerness on the horizon."
RIBA Dissertation Medal: 'Past, Present and Post-Tropicality: Viewing Singapore through an ‘Infra(-)structural’ Field' by Annabelle Tan (University College London)
Abstract: "This thesis dissects three chronological modes and authoritative constructions of dominant 'tropicality' in Singapore through the lens of modern infrastructure: colonial (British control), post-colonial (nation-building) and contemporary (neoliberal). Crucially, I investigate ‘infrastructures’ of such dominant ‘tropicality’ alongside ordinary people’s lived tropical worlds and their socio-natural relationships, which created an alternative ‘infra-structure’ of tropicality — the radical potential of which is often unnoticed. I explore these diametric strands in parallel through hegemonic infrastructure and everyday acts that resist, appropriate or hybridise these power-laden spaces."
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