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RIBA President’s Medals

Eleanor Young

Three Bartlett students have scooped the top three awards in the RIBA’s Presidents Medals Students Awards, writes Eleanor Young.

Ben Hayes took the Silver Medal, Ness Lafoy Bronze and Tamsin Hanke was awarded the Dissertation Medal. The two winners of Serjeant Awards for Excellence in Drawing also were also tutored by Bartlett graduates or academics, CJ Lim (for the Aarhus School of Architecture) and Paul Bronner (for University of Greenwich).

‘It is evidence of a school at the top of its game,’ says chair of the Silver and Bronze Medal juries, David Gloster. As the RIBA’s director of education he doesn’t get to vote but explains how none of the juries had expected this unprecedented clean sweep by a single school. ‘The judging process just presents you with a number and a project title, sometimes you think you can place the entry by school and find out later it comes from 3000 miles away,’ he explains. Gloster paid tribute to the huge influence of students and academics around the world from both the Bartlett and the Architectural Association, which has also put forward many past winners.

This year the strongest entries were all responses to very specific, highly complex, often unique sites. Hayes’ Silver Medal winning project brought conservation, Soviet (and pre-Soviet) Russia together on a Kizhi Island with beautiful drawings addressing how historic churches might be preserved and displayed. Lafoy took the Helsinki Archipelago as a nominal site, creating a central hub for a dispersed population and their services. And for her dissertation Hanke explored how socialism is engraved into the form of the Stalinist settlement of Magnitogorsk.
‘Genus loci seems to have permeated schools globally,’ says Gloster. He pointed out that while at the lower end entries can be too literal, at the high end the medal-winning students deal brilliantly with narrative concepts, seizing issues and making them accessible.

For more on each project see here.

For a full list of commended and shortlisted projects see