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RIBAJ/Future Architects writing competition 2020 – the results

Hugh Pearman

Members of the Future Architects community responded handsomely to the task we set them in 2019

It seems that today’s emerging architects are quite handy with words, as we’d hoped when we launched the RIBAJ/RIBA Future Architects writing competition at the turn of 2019 (enter this year's competition by going to this page). Our judges have read and pondered and we have our results. But first, a bit of background.

We set the challenge to those heading towards a career in architecture – in education at levels Part 1, 2, and 3. This is the sector for which RIBA Future Architects was recently established as a community and support network. To make this a real-life competition, we asked for articles of up to 1,000 words in one of three subject areas: building/place, tech/practice, and people. These areas roughly correspond to the three main sections of the RIBA Journal. It turned out that tech/practice was the most popular category for our fledgling writers, closely followed by building/place. Relatively few entered in the people category.

From 45 entries the RIBAJ editors produced a longlist of 18 which our judges then got stuck into. Those judges were regular RIBAJ contributor Pamela Buxton, associate RIBA member and a founder of Future Architects Simeon Shtebunaev, and me.

We defined a shortlist of 10, from which after a relatively short discussion we were able to agree a winners’ podium of four. And here they are:

Winner: Sam Winton (Part 3, Framework Architects) with Parasitic Architecture on multi-generational living.  

Describing it as lively and highly readable, Buxton said: 'The author has cleverly used the Oscar-winning, South Korean film Parasite as the hook for a piece on multigenerational living arrangements that are made through necessity rather than choice. While the analogy doesn’t completely fit, he nevertheless pulls it off with the help of an engaging writing style that draws on personal experience to explore this pertinent theme in relation to the UK housing market.'

Shtebunaev said: 'The piece poses in an engaging and accessible manner the question about power-dynamics between different generations living together and shines a light on a social aspect of the housing crisis that every Future Architects member can relate to.'

Second place commendation: Peter Lewis (Part 2, Liverpool) on the good and bad of co-living developments

Third place commendation: Ruth Ramsden (Part 3, University of Brighton) with an unusual crit of a failing building type – a Watford shopping centre

Fourth place commendation: Wajiha Afsar (Part 1, Atkins ) on practising for the wellbeing of future generations

We shall publish each of these four at weekly intervals on, starting with Sam Winton as the winner.

A further six of our young writers get special mentions for making the shortlist. In no particular order these are:
Eleanor Marshall (Part 2, Central St Martins): Glasgow/New York heritage comparison.
Shawn Adams (Part 2, RCA):  the future of religious buildings.
Faye Sedgewick (Part 2, Northumbria): making truly age-friendly housing.
Michael Tsang (Part 1, Bath ): Eric Klinenberg's case for social infrastructure.
Sarah Osei (Part 1, Ravensbourne) : the lost architect of London's Aylesbury Estate.
Elinor Grant (Part 2, Northumbria): Social housing that cares - the Alterlaa model in Vienna.

This was a really encouraging response from the rising generation. Well done all! 

To read Sam Winton's winning essay, click here