President’s Medals 2014 – Bronze

Words:
Eleanor Young

Flow 1944 by Simon Dean, Kingston University. Tutors: Jane Houghton/ Stephen Baty

A bathhouse emerges from a quarry, carved from the flow spewed by the volcano’s last eruption. A trail through deserted lands and timid orchards, a shunned landscape turned to wasteland, tracing the river of lava up to its source; the volcano rests below, its breath heating rock and water.

The case for Thermae Vesuviane cannot be constructed on premises of rational thought; a monumental quarry carved into the rock from which the 1944 eruption gushed millions of cubic feet of lava, erasing entire towns as they met its path. The sheer amount of labour required to remove such quantities of rock – without the aid of blasting, which would disrupt local fauna and unsettle loose formations – would seem preposterous considering the maximum potential lifespan of this complex is estimated at 30 years. Yet the Neapolitans’ general disregard for such perils, outweighed by issues of social and economic nature, overshadow this thesis in the field of illogical reasoning.

The bathhouse lives in the long shadow of Mt Vesuvius, a transient existence; yet after the tremors, the exodus of the bathkeeper, its embalming in the lava of the succeeding geological strata, it re-emerges, cut from the vestiges of its predecessors; a slow aggregation of quarries and undercuts and caves, a cyclical artefact for the civilisations at the volcano’s feet.

  • Bronze Commendation
    Bronze Commendation Credit: Rong Xhan Safehouse Emily Priest Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL Tutor: Sabine Storp
  • Bronze Commendation
    Bronze Commendation Credit: City Frame The Reappropriation of Maple House Samuel Little London Metropolitan University Tutors: Alex Bank/Sam Casswell/Florian Beigel/Philip Christou
  • Bronze Commendation
    Bronze Commendation Credit: Urban Living Transition: Vanishing Heritage of Hong Kong Residence Ho Yeung (Howell) Tsang University of Hong Kong Tutor: Dylan Baker-Rice
123
Silver Serjeant
Silver Serjeant Credit: The Restored Commonwealth Club Adam Bell University of Greenwich Tutors, Simon Herron/Susanne Isa/Nicholas Szczepaniak/Jonathan Hagos

 

Bronze Serjeant
Bronze Serjeant Credit: The Institute of Concrete Poetry Oliver Riviere University of Brighton Tutors: Ben Sweeting/Alex Arestis

 

Latest

With retail flagging how can we bring life back into towns? Architects, this is your chance to step up

With retail flagging how can we bring life back into towns?

Gundry + Ducker's innovative design for the RIBA Marketplace stand at this year's Futurebuild event is made from Rockwool insulation and Rockpanel cladding for a restful, reading room feel

RIBA hub design at Futurebuild keeps things quiet

As cuts in public services bite ever deeper it’s down to local people to save and reinvent neglected or redundant structures. Architects play a crucial role

Local activists need public-spirited architects

National Museum, Tartu, Estonia

National Museum, Tartu, Estonia

Impressive productivity gains are offset by rising payroll costs in the RIBA Business Benchmarking Survey  this year

Revenues are rising twice as fast as staff numbers