Established in 1836 when the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) awarded the first Silver Medal to George Godwin for his essay on the “Nature and Properties of Concrete”, the President’s Medals are the RIBA’s oldest awards and are regarded as the most prestigious prizes in architectural education globally. The 2018 winners of the President’s Medals were awarded on 5 December 2018.

The 2018 awards reeled in 328 design projects and dissertations from 101 architecture schools in 37 countries, the highest number of entries in the award’s history. Here is an overview of the inspirational winning projects and people:

RIBA President’s Medals 2018: Silver

‘How to Carve a Giant’ – see main image above
Sonia Magdziarz | Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Project: “How to Carve a Giant”
Tutors: Penelope Haralambidou, Michael Tite, and Keiichi Matsuda

“How to Carve a Giant” proposes an architecture capable of keeping safe contemporary forms of knowledge. It takes a mantle of a folk story that carves its way through the urban fabric of Pasila, Helsinki.

The building is a repository that stores knowledge in a vast inter-generational bid to prevent the historic loss of information. The project considers how digital preservation made possible via DNA encoding has rendered knowledge invisible to the naked eye. That consequently posits architecture as decipherer and uses ornament, inscription, shifts in scale and an architectural language native to Finland to facilitate the dialogue.

Silver Medal Commendations
Sam Coulton
London Physic Gardens: A New Necropolis

Kevin Herhusky
Infrastructures of Memory, Phygital Bodies in a Concrete Cloud

Ruth McNickle
Tilling the Prado: A Furrow of Re-Construction

RIBA President’s Medals 2018: Bronze

How do you design a hotel in a power station?
Justin Bean
Dreaming of Electric Sheep
University of Bath
Tutors: Frank Lyons; Martin Gledhill

For Justin Bean, the idea of marrying a hotel with an electricity substation grew out of an attempt to address society’s fears of technology and he wanted to explore a more symbiotic relationship between people and technology. The huge, hidden infrastructure of substations in towns intrigued Justin.

“You read that technology will steal our jobs, that technology will replace everything – I disagree and wanted to question what that meant,” says Justin.

The hotel planned intimately around the substation was chosen, as what he admits is a “weird typology … It tightens and exaggerates banal everyday activities to the sublime.” The project started as a pragmatic piece of spatial planning and he turned to the Faraday cage to keep his hotel inhabitants safe, with bars of metal encasing the building beneath a skin of insulating brick.

Some of the gathering spaces are graced with elements of the substation, building a familiarity with the elements – a way of getting to know the architecture of electricity and to start to understand it. With this extreme pairing, Justin hopes for a new dialogue on how people perceive machines and technology.

Commendation
Sam Beattie
A Bridge to Wellness

Camille Bongard
A Choreographed Timeline, Rewriting RIBA Building Contract

Alexander Wilford
Smithfield Lorry Depot

SERJEANT AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN DRAWING
Camille Dunlop
Pipeline Hijacking

SOM FOUNDATION FELLOWSHIP UK PART 1
Grey Grierson
Negotiation of States: A Crematorium and Columbarium in Hong Kong

For more information, visit www.presidentsmedals.com.

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