RIBA announces winners of the 2015 President's Medals and Research Awards

The winners of the 2015 RIBA President’s Medals and RIBA President’s Awards for Research were announced at a ceremony at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in central London this evening (2 December 2015). First awarded in 1836, the RIBA Presidents Medals are the RIBA’s oldest prizes and reward talent, promote innovation, and encourage excellence in the study of architecture worldwide.

The Silver Medal (awarded to the best design project at Part 2) went to Finn Wilkie from The Mackintosh School of Architecture at The Glasgow School of Art for ‘The Heteroglossic City: A polemic against critical reconstruction in Berlin’. The project (tutored by Robert Mantho) investigates the historical background of Berlin’s highly-controlled planning system before setting out a new strategy for architectural intervention. This is illustrated through the ‘Bauforum’, a platform to explore a more dialogue-focused approach to each particular planning context.

The Bronze Medal (for best Part 1 design project) was awarded to Boon Yik Chung, from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, for his project ‘Space as the Third Teacher: An alternative classroom typology promoting creative learning and play’. To explore the notion of flexibility in classroom design, the author researched schools in Amsterdam and Rotterdam designed by Herman Hertzberger, and also drew on his own personal experiences of school spaces in Malaysia. The project (tutored by Rhys Cannon and Colin Herperger) concludes that ambiguous, open-ended spaces rather than wholly flexible rooms provide the best learning environments.

Marie Price was awarded the Dissertation Medal for ‘The Overlooked Back Garden: Voyeurism in the English back garden’, supervised by Harold Charrington at the University of Westminster. The dissertation explores the concept of voyeurism in the wider sense of people-watching to explore the tension between the private and the overlooked. The dissertation considers degrees of overlooking at different scales (from the city, the street, from within the houses, and from within the garden) by resorting to historiography, empirical data and case-study analysis, and digital mapping technology.

The RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding Master’s Degree Thesis went to Christopher Purpura, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London for ‘Holding Hands, Touching Alterity: Dance as Spatial Practice at Monte Verità, 1914’. Supervised by Professor Jane Rendell and Professor Barbara Penner. This thesis is an account of the self-sustaining, anarchist community at Monte Verità set up by the architect-movement theorist Rudolph Laban in 1913. It focuses on a series of 7 high-definition autochromes, one of which is pictured here, taken by Johann Von Meisenbach around the outbreak of the First World War. An attempt to open up alternative histories of spatial practices, Purpura draws on feminist and queer critiques of Merleau-Ponty’s work on phenomenology. Described by the judging panel as ‘fascinating, compelling and elegant’, it tackles the fundamentals of architecture – body, space and movement.

RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis went to Torsten Schroeder, LSE Sociology Department, Cities Programme with ‘Translating the concept of sustainability into architectural design practices: London’s City Hall as an Exemplar’. Supervised by Professor Mike Savage and Professor Ricky Burdett. Schroeder’s doctoral thesis focusses on a single case study, London City Hall, to explore and interrogate a recent project that demonstrates the causes and effects of architects’ design decisions. Extracting a remarkable amount of forthrightness from his interview subjects about the power struggles between clients, engineers and architects, Schroeder charts the pyrrhic victory of form over performance in the design process that has led to resulting failures in environmental performance.

The RIBA President’s Awards for Outstanding University-located Research went to Katrin Bohn and Andre Viljoen, School of Art, Design and Media, University of Brighton for ‘Second Nature Urban Agriculture: Designing Productive Cities’ What are the architectural and urban design consequences of a sustainable and resilient urban food system? What are the actions that will advance and enable the coherent integration of productive landscapes within cities? ‘Second Nature Urban Agriculture’ published in 2014, consolidates a systematic body of research undertaken over the last decade. This publication will be a valuable reference for any future research on urban food systems and sustainability.

The RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding Practice-located Research and recipient of the inaugural RIBA Research Medal went to Walter Menteth, Walter Menteth Architects for ‘Pathways to Construction Procurement Reform leading to adoption and embedding of EU Directive 2014/24/EU’. Pathways to Construction Procurement Reform sets out to address why procurement processes, ostensibly set up to offer a fair, proportionate and open market, were having negative and unsustainable impacts on design talent accessing work; constraining opportunity, creative market skews and incurring excessive time and cost. Demonstrating tenacity and commitment, Menteth’s submission included books, articles, reports and conference papers showing a comprehensive investigation into the area of procurement reform of increasingly urgent relevance to the profession.

RIBA President Jane Duncan said:

“Congratulations to our deserving medal winners who have fought-off tough competition from around the world and truly excelled with their innovative, challenging and thought-provoking projects. It’s an honour to present these awards to the future trailblazers and current innovators of the architecture profession.”

A number of other important awards were also presented this evening in the following categories:

Silver Medal/Part 2:
High Commendation:

  • Marcus Rothnie and Marshall Inglis (Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture): ‘Chlorophyllous Urbanism: Mumbai’


  • Gemma Wheeler (Cardiff University): ‘Re-Storying the Workhouse: An alternative conservation strategy’
  • Alistair Wood (De Montfort University): ‘Lofoten Seasonal Fishery’

Serjeant Award for Excellence in Drawing:

  • Benjamin Ferns (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL): ‘Pontifical Academy of Sciences’

Bronze Medal/Part 1:
High Commendation:

  • Douglas Miller (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL): ‘The San Francisco Columbarium’


  • Sophie Barks (University of Nottingham): ‘The Mnemonic Guild’
  • Hong Xi (Nanjing University, China): ‘Academic Landscape: Regenerate a riverside warehouse as an emblem of active learning’

Serjeant Award for Excellence in Drawing:

  • Andrew Chard (Oxford Brookes University): ‘The Lost Dockyard’

Dissertation Medal:

  • Zeina Al-Derry (Architectural Association): ‘The Melancholic City of Mirages’
  • Irene Klokkari (University of Brighton): ‘Memories of Famagusta: Recapturing the image of the city through the memories of refugees’
  • Niamh Lincoln (University of Sheffield): ‘Tempelhof – Articulating the Void’

RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis

  • Isis Paola Nunez Ferrera (University of Westminster): ‘Territories of Scarcity and Creativity: A Critical view on Informal Settlements and Emerging Tactics under Conditions of Scarcity in Nairobi, Kenya and Quito Ecuador’. Supervised by Professor Jeremy Till and Jon Goodbun


Notes to editors

1. For further press information contact Howard Crosskey in the RIBA Press Office: 020 7307 3761

2. To download images from this year’s winners visit:

3. The RIBA President’s Medals were established in 1836 and are the RIBA’s oldest awards.

4. Every year, the RIBA invites international architects, academics, designers and artists to join the judging panels and award the Bronze Medal for best design project at Part 1, the Silver Medal for best design project at Part 2 and the Dissertation Medal. In addition, the judges award a maximum of three commendations in each category. Also selected by the judging panels are the Serjeant Awards for Excellence in Drawing, in memory of the late architect and Royal Academy surveyor Denis Serjeant, who in 1981 was one of the founding members of the RIBA Student Prizes Group.

5. This year’s judging panels included:

Bronze Medal:

  • Chair: David Gloster – RIBA Director of Education
  • Alan Jones – RIBA Vice President Education for 2015-17, and Director of Education (Architecture) at Queen’s University Belfast;
  • Kate Goodwin – Head of Architecture and Drue Heinz Curator at the Royal Academy of Arts; RIBA Honorary Fellow
  • Roisin Heneghan – Founder and partner of heneghan peng architects
  • Chris Thurlbourne – Head of the Masters Programme at The Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark; RIBA Silver Medal winner 1991

Silver Medal:

  • Chair: David Gloster – RIBA Director of Education
  • Alan Jones – RIBA Vice President Education for 2015-17, and Director of Education (Architecture) at Queen’s University Belfast;
  • Alexander Brodsky – Architect and sculptor; RIBA International Fellow
  • Niall McLaughlin – Niall McLaughlin Architects; winner of the 2015 RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize
  • Carme Pinós – Estudio Carme Pinós; RIBA International Fellow

Dissertation Medal:

  • Chair: Peg Rawes – Historian and theorist, and programme director of the MA in Architectural History at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
  • Maarten Delbeke – Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture at Ghent University
  • Karin Jaschke – Senior lecturer and subject leader in Postgraduate Architectural Humanities at the University of Brighton
  • Stephen Walker – Director of Postgraduate Studies at the Sheffield School of Architecture, University of Sheffield

Presidents Awards for Research:

  • Andrew Waugh – Waugh Thistleton and external examiner for University of East London
  • Ruth Morrow (chair) – Queen’s University Belfast
  • Adam Sharr – University of Newcastle and Adam Sharr Architects
  • Gerry Adler – University of Kent School of Architecture
  • Cany Ash – Ash Sakula, external examiner/visiting critic at Cambridge, East London, Greenwich, Bartlett and AA
  • Cindy Walters – Walters and Cohen, external examiner at the Bartlett and University of Westminster.
  • Bob Sheil – Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
  • Simon Foxell – The Architects Practice
  • Matthew Barac – London South Bank University
  • Soraya Khan – Theis and Khan
  • Neil Jackson – University of Liverpool
  • Daisy Froud – Daisy Froud
  • Rosa Urbano Gutierrez – University of Liverpool

6. The UK office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) also awarded the SOM Foundation Fellowships UK, selected from this year’s entries for the RIBA President’s Medals to Douglas Miller and Benjamin Ferns by a panel comprising Kent Jackson (SOM), Chris Wilkinson (Wilkinson Eyre Architects), and Mariana Pestana (curator of architecture at the Victoria & Albert Museum)

7. 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.


Posted on Thursday 3rd December 2015

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