RIBA reveals shortlists for 2017 President’s Awards for Research

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the shortlists for the 2017 President’s Awards for Research.  The annual awards celebrate the best research in the fields of architecture and the built environment.

Research work has been entered from all over the world, submitted by students, academics, practitioners and industry partners from Australia to the USA, Chile to France, and from Brazil to Singapore.

This year there are notable collaborations between academics, architecture practices both in the UK and overseas, and industry partners located in India, Wales, Australia and Belgium.

The awards are given in four categories: History and Theory, Cities and Community, Design and Technical, and an annual theme, which this year was Housing.

The shortlists for the 2017 RIBA President’s Awards for Research are as follows:

History and Theory

Ultra-Modernism in Manchuria

Dr Edward Denison, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL & Guang Yu Ren, independent researcher

This research looks in detail at the modernist development of a north-eastern region of China formerly known as Manchuria and provides important context to the rising tensions in the region, the seeds of which were sown here.

Architectural Models and the Professional Practice of the Architect, 1834–1916

Matthew Wells, Victoria & Albert Museum / Royal College of Art

This study explores the role and use of the model in nineteenth-century society and its relationship to architectural culture.

Reinventing the Prison: the Redevelopment of HMP Holloway, 1968-1978

Miranda Critchley, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

This research aims to contextualise the redevelopment of Holloway Prison (1968 – 78), understand the ideas that were influential in the project and place them in relation to earlier and later thinking about prison architecture.

Cities and Community

London’s Local Character and Density

Daniel Elsea, Jane Manning, George Garofalakis, Antony Rifkin & Geoff Noble, Allies and Morrison LLP

This study has established a broad characterisation of Greater London as a proactive contribution to the debate around the residential density matrix.

Architecture for Politics: Designing Collectivity in Medellín’s Library-Parks

Dr Caue Capille, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

This research looks at the Library-Parks of Medellín in Colombia, looking at the propaganda of social change brought by the buildings’ mediatic monumentality, and at how public libraries frame social relationships through their architecture.

Sovereignty on Stilts, Drawing a Genealogy of Extra-Territorial Urbanization along the Mudflats of the Tropical Belt

Gabriel Muñoz Moreno & Santiago Serna González, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

This research shows how the displacement of native communities in Latin- American Pacific coasts has occurred – from the Atlantic Slave Trade to the current commercial pressures – and the impact on the community and the space around them.

Design and Technical

The Development of the Building Envelope Using Welsh-Grown Timber: A study Through Prototyping

Dr Steven Coombs, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University 

This research explores the use of Welsh-grown timber in construction, the technical and skill limitations and opportunities of the industry, and highlights the impact of the use of timber on the tectonic form of the building envelope.

Emergency Talks: Designing for Team Communication in Hospital Emergency Departments

Dr Lucio Naccarella, University of Melbourne, Associate Prof Bernice Redley, Deakin University Monash Health Partnership, Michaela Sheahan & Kieren Morgan, HASSELL

This research identifies the impact of the physical environment on team communication in hospital emergency departments.

Losing Myself: Spatial Perception and Architectural Design

Eimear Arthur & Niall McLaughlin, Niall McLaughlin Architects & Yeoryia Manolopoulou, AY Architects

This research investigates the changes to spatial perception caused by dementia, and the implications for architectural design.


Toward Healthy Housing for the Displaced

Dr Dima Albadra, Prof David Coley & Dr Jason Hart, University of Bath

The paper discusses adaptation strategies used by refugees to cope with the heat and cold, reporting their views on shelter design considerations and satisfaction.

Housing as Housing: The SAAL Process and São Victor Brigade

Michael Cohen, Architecture Brigade

The research reviews the São Victor housing project in Porto developed by a ‘brigade’ of architects and engineers led by Álvaro Siza Vieira.

Learning from Increments: Towards a Sustainable Design Strategy for Housing

Dr Aliki-Myrto Perysinaki & Dr Joanne Hudson, Liverpool John Moores University

This paper aims to open up debate concerning the potential of incremental housing – flexible housing prototypes or ‘core’ housing – as a sustainable strategy, in western contexts, for dealing with the housing crisis.

Submissions were judged blind by a distinguished panel chaired by Peter Clegg, Senior Partner, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, with:

  • Zohra Chiheb – Architect, Levitt Bernstein
  • Dr Elizabeth Darling – Reader in Architectural History, Oxford Brookes University
  • Hattie Hartman – Sustainability Editor, The Architect’s Journal
  • Dr Matthew Jones – Senior lecturer, University of the West of England & Partner, Coombs Jones Architects
  • Dr Kerstin Sailer – Reader in Social and Spatial Networks, The Bartlett School of Architecture
  • Prof Christopher Tweed – Head of the Welsh School of Architecture

Peter Clegg, Chair of the judging panel said:

“The assembled judges this year felt it was a privilege to be part of the process and part of the discussion. Yet again we received a very wide variety of subjects to review. The process is a continual reminder of the breadth and depth of the subject, and that yet again that the RIBA President’s Medal for Research has both global reach and international significance.”

The winners of each category will be awarded at the RIBA President’s Medals ceremony on 5 December when the winner of the 2017 President’s Medal for Research will also be announced.

Further information about the 2017 Awards, including the illustrated 2017 Book of Abstracts, is available at www.architecture.com/researchawards