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Rising Stars 2021: agitating for change

Eleanor Young

This year’s cohort of nine Rising Stars are agitators, bringing their colourful voices to a grey digital Covid world

Hammering home change with Charlie Butterwick’s community build.
Hammering home change with Charlie Butterwick’s community build.
Architects are trained how to make their mark, but the pace of change is slow and, for this generation, the constraints of procurement and large-scale projects are the backdrop to making change on the ground and in the minds of the profession. This is nowhere clearer than in this year’s selection of nine RIBAJ Rising Stars, in association with Origin.
Judge Bushra Mohamed, a 2020 Rising Star, drew on her own experience to sum up the challenges. ‘It is so difficult as a young architect to be building … because of access to capital etc. Instead you can have an impact on policies. Buildings aren’t the quickest way to respond to things.’ 
Their causes are diverse, from youth engagement and promoting an understanding of the human impact of disability to campaigning for conservation. Their methods too are diverse, the punchy posters and inspirational talks underpinned by a dedication inside and outside work to explore and explain. Some Rising Stars have found their tools in systems: the new packaging of services so that tenement owners can confidently and inexpensively find the help they need; or engaging documents to share sustainability expertise and protocols and effect a step change in practice culture. 
Those who have struck out on their own in practice are putting their manifestos into built form. This means challenging planning, construction and design norms, pushing yourself and the standard way of working. One Rising Star is at the forefront of reinventing a pop version of postmodernism, another marrying digital innovation and community building in unexpected ways, another reinventing the children’s home with a true emphasis on the idea of home. 
Whatever way they have of agitating for change this Rising Stars cohort is going to make itself heard for the issues it believes in. And the world will be a brighter place for it.  

Eleanor Young, acting editor, RIBA Journal


This years judging panel. From left to right: Yasmin Al-Ani Spence, Bushra Mohamed, Steve Smith , Steve Webb &  Eleanor Young.
This years judging panel. From left to right: Yasmin Al-Ani Spence, Bushra Mohamed, Steve Smith , Steve Webb & Eleanor Young.

The 2021 judges

Yasmin Al-Ani Spence Architect and director, Wilkinson Eyre, lead on Dyson Campus

Bushra Mohamed RIBAJ Rising Star 2020 and co-founder of Studio Nyali

Steve Smith Designer, developer and client for Ghost House and Invisible House

Steve Webb Webb Yates Engineers and author of series on hacks for embodied carbon structures

Eleanor Young Acting editor RIBA Journal (chair)


Origin supporting RIBAJ Rising Stars

Origin is thrilled, once again, to be championing the RIBA Journal’s Rising Stars. We love being involved in this initiative as it’s an amazing opportunity where we can encourage and celebrate such talent coming through as emerging players in the architectural arena. 
Like the entrants, Origin is essentially in the infancy in its overall journey and potential. Since establishing in 2001, we’ve certainly made our mark in the fenestration industry by rewriting the norms with our fresh thinking, especially in the last 18 months where thinking outside the box and overcoming obstacles has been paramount to success. 
The standard of this year’s entrants has been hugely impressive. There’s definitely a bright future in front of every one of them. We’ve loved working with the Rising Stars, as they have all demonstrated a strong sense of collaboration, diversity, enthusiasm and passion, which has been fantastic to see and be a part of.
Ben Brocklesby, sales and marketing director, Origin


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