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RIBA Bronze Medal goes to The Council for Ecosystem Restoration’s promotion of ecological justice

Kacper Sehnke of University of Westminster creates a demountable thatched tower for the UN Decade of Restoration which regenerates the site it occupies

RIBA Bronze Medal & RIBA Award for Sustainable Design at Part 1: The Council for Ecosystem Restoration by Kacper Sehnke
RIBA Bronze Medal & RIBA Award for Sustainable Design at Part 1: The Council for Ecosystem Restoration by Kacper Sehnke Credit: Kacper Sehnke

RIBA Bronze Medal & RIBA Award for Sustainable Design at Part 1

Kacper Sehnke
The Council for Ecosystem Restoration
University of Westminster
Tutors: Eric Guibert, Bruce Irwin

Not content with touching the ground lightly, Kacper Sehnke’s Council for Ecosystem Restoration is designed to actively regenerate its site as well as managing its own disassembly.

Located in Epping Forest, the project is conceived as a building to support the real-life UN Decade for Restoration programme. The proposed council chamber, housed in a thatched tower, hosts political dialogues and the promotion of ecological justice, and is supplemented by six associated pavilions for uses such as workshops, and laboratories for research on forest landscapes and the impact of human activities.

The building is inspired by the Half-Earth conservation movement, which aims to conserve half of the Earth’s land and marine spaces, and is accompanied by on-site actions to nurture the site – formerly a tennis club – and restore its damaged eco-system. This process starts with the design of the buildings, which are raised off the forest floor using gabion cages and steel screw piles to enable wildlife to pass across the site, and interconnected by timber walkways.

  • RIBA Bronze Medal & RIBA Award for Sustainable Design at Part 1: The Council for Ecosystem Restoration by Kacper Sehnke
    RIBA Bronze Medal & RIBA Award for Sustainable Design at Part 1: The Council for Ecosystem Restoration by Kacper Sehnke Credit: Kacper Sehnke
  • RIBA Bronze Medal & RIBA Award for Sustainable Design at Part 1: The Council for Ecosystem Restoration by Kacper Sehnke
    RIBA Bronze Medal & RIBA Award for Sustainable Design at Part 1: The Council for Ecosystem Restoration by Kacper Sehnke Credit: Kacper Sehnke
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Sehnke proposes using a combination of coppiced wood from the forest and locally recycled, already fabricated materials such as CLT and Glulam for the structures. This provides comfortable accommodation, both for people on the inside and for wildlife on the outside of the buildings. The layered façade and overhanging roof frame provide habitats for a range of birds and bats, as well as supporting vertical plant growth.

Meanwhile the concrete on the ground will be broken up to allow regrowth of native fauna through the gaps. The result, he hopes, is the creation of ‘a cohesive and symbiotic relationship between the constructed space and the natural environment’.

When the site has been remediated, the pavilion structures can be disassembled and reintegrated into the forest or moved to another location in need of restoration. The thatched tower is left to decay as ‘a monument to the negative impact of human activity on the natural world’.

As a result of the project, Sehnke says regenerative architecture is now a key interest of his. ‘It’s more relevant than ever,’ he says.

  • RIBA Bronze Medal & RIBA Award for Sustainable Design at Part 1: The Council for Ecosystem Restoration by Kacper Sehnke
    RIBA Bronze Medal & RIBA Award for Sustainable Design at Part 1: The Council for Ecosystem Restoration by Kacper Sehnke Credit: Kacper Sehnke
  • RIBA Bronze Medal & RIBA Award for Sustainable Design at Part 1: The Council for Ecosystem Restoration by Kacper Sehnke
    RIBA Bronze Medal & RIBA Award for Sustainable Design at Part 1: The Council for Ecosystem Restoration by Kacper Sehnke Credit: Kacper Sehnke
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RIBA Bronze Commendation & RIBA Serjeant Award for Excellence in Architectural Drawing at Part 1

Michael Becker
A Habit of Building: Considering Labour, the Architect and the Construction Site
Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Tutor: Rachel Hallett

RIBA Bronze Commendations

Stephanie Ng
Life in Common: Re-enchanting the City through Urban Commoning
Central Saint Martins (UAL)
Tutor: Louis Lupien

Gus Richards
Cofio Celyn: Remember Celyn
University of Greenwich
Tutors: Jen Wan, Eric Wong

2023 RIBA Bronze Medal judging panel

Elena Marco (chair) Professor of teaching and learning of architecture and built environment; and pro vice-chancellor and head of the College of Arts, Technology and Environment at the University of the West of England, UK
Oya Atalay Franck Professor of architecture, dean, and managing director of the School of Architecture, Design and Civil Engineering at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Winterthur, Switzerland; president of the European Association for Architectural Education (EAAE/AEEA)
Grace Choi Director at Grace Choi Architecture, UK
Oli Cunningham Architect and senior lecturer in architecture at Sheffield Hallam University, UK
Jonathan Hagos Co-director at Freehaus Design, UK
Hamza Shaikh Artist and architect at Gensler, UK

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