Architecture students scoop multiple prizes

Four students from the University of Portsmouth’s School of Architecture have been awarded prizes for their work by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The student designs ranged from futuristic social housing in Winchester to pods for life on Mars.

The prizes, which celebrate budding architectural talent, were awarded by the RIBA Hampshire branch which represents nearly 900 architects based in the county. The awards were for Best Integrated Design, Overall Achievement and Excellence, Highest Standard of Detail in Design and Highest Standard of All-round Excellence. The students received awards at the School’s recent end of year show.

The awards were for Best Integrated Design, Overall Achievement and Excellence, Highest Standard of Detail in Design and Highest Standard of All-round Excellence. The students received awards at the School’s recent end of year show.

Stephanie Wyant

Stephanie Wyant

Stephanie Wyant, 23, was awarded the prize for Best Integrated Design. The judges were impressed with Stephanie’s project, as part of an assignment to consider the future of social housing in Winchester. She investigated ways that the city could produce its own food and how that could link with social housing.

She said: “In my futuristic masterplan of Winchester, all cars have been replaced by an artificially-intelligent tram system. So the disused car parks are reimagined as aquaponics food factories, education centres and social housing. Organic waste from the residents becomes compost for the growing crops, creating a closed-loop efficient system where nothing is wasted.”

Dominic Gaunt, one of the judges, said that the standard of integrated design work was particularly strong this year, but that Stephanie’s work was a highly convincing, professional technical submission which demonstrates an excellent understanding of passive environmental design and research into aquaponics and digestion.

George Pop

George Pop

George Pop, 21, was awarded the prize for Overall Achievement and Excellence. The judges were impressed with his project, ‘The Jungle Fabrication’ which uses the idea of social housing as the starting-point to look at ways that the human habitat could respond to climatic changes.

The judges said that George’s project was the clear winner: “George’s body of work and creative output was at a level that you might expect at Diploma level. An otherworldly and perhaps unrealistic proposal was supported by a thorough level of conceptual thinking and interrogation of the ideas. An outstanding graphical presentation made for a highly professional and impressive portfolio and therefore a worthy winner.”

Ani Hadzhipetrova's project

Ani Hadzhipetrova’s project

Ani Hadzhipetrova, 26, was awarded the prize for the Highest Standard of Detail in Design prize. Ani designed a series of lightweight, inflatable pods which could accommodate a human colony on Mars. The settlement would protect the inhabitants from extreme conditions and expand and change as the colony grows.

She said: “The pods are made of a special plastic which withstands extreme temperatures, and an airlock. Their shell has two layers: the inner layer is inflated with CO2, to provide insulation and the outer layer is filled with an aerogel and water which freezes quickly. All of the pods are manufactured on Earth and transported to Mars, where they are inflated and attached to each other using the airlocks.”

Dominic Gaunt said that the judges were delighted by Ani’s thought-provoking proposal. “The level of research into the complex challenges posted by different atmospheric conditions made it an easy choice for the Prize. Ani’s idea has been carried out with strong conviction to give a rational, complete narrative.”

Mantas Gaigalas, 24, was awarded the prize for the Highest Standard of All-round Excellence. His project was the revisualisation of military relics on the coast in Latvia, which date from the Communist era. Mantas added an observatory to each site along the scattered ruins, along with opportunities for sea bathing rituals that are traditional in Latvia. He said: “Each intervention, comprising an underground visitor route, sea bath and wind tower, functions as a gathering place that seeks to revive the scarred post-Soviet community. It exposes the visitors to the harsh conditions and makes them aware of the ‘military memory.”

Design by Mantas Gaigalas

Design by Mantas Gaigalas

Dominic Gaunt said that Mantas has developed an impressive body of work over the course of his two years at the University of Portsmouth. “He demonstrates a good range of skills with a consistently high standard of output. There is a level of sophistication in his elevational treatments which demonstrates an understanding of depth and composition. This, together with his sensitive graphic style of representation, suggests that personal ‘style’ of work appears to be emerging.”

Lecturer Dan Blott, who coordinates student prize-giving, said the entire School is delighted for the four RIBA award recipients: “Once again they reflect the exceptional standards and values in architecture that our students and tutors strive for. Through these awards the School’s aim to make good architecture something that is accessible and a delight to all has been recognised.”

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