Architecture student wins RIBA prize for Museum of Secrets

Full of secrets and wonder: Helen’s winning design

A University of Portsmouth architecture student Helen Keegan has won a prize for excellence from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Helen, 25, was awarded the MArch Diploma Prize for the highest standard of all-round excellence.

The judges were impressed with her project ‘The Museum of Secrets’, which visualised a new museum in Winchester to capture the hidden nature, and surprises of the city’s pathways and unexpected discoveries.

Helen said: “This project looks at the museum as a protector and sharer of treasures. A place of refuge and escape is necessary in today’s fast-paced, fluid and distracting cultural environment.

“Children inherently enjoy being in ‘secret places’ which provide separation from the external world. As adults, we rarely get this chance.”

All-round excellence: Helen Keegan wins RIBA prize

Her museum is designed for the courtyard hidden behind D&G’s Hardware Store on St George’s Street. The museum is a collection of boxes separated by small courtyard gardens. These are accessed through tunnels and hidden thresholds. The displays include casts of forgotten spaces, excavations which reveal artefacts, and stories from Winchester’s secret newspaper.

RIBA judge, and new Visiting Professor at the UoP School of Architecture, Dominic Gaunt said: “Helen identified a key characteristic of the city in finding joyous moments and ‘pocket spaces’. Superbly presented with clear thought processes, this project is the very worthy winner of the best overall project.”

Another view of Helen’s design of a Museum of Secrets in Winchester

Helen’s project formed part of the Cultural Capital studio work, led by Tina Wallbridge and Pablo Martinez.  The studio was supported by the Hampshire Cultural Trust, with a public exhibition and symposium as part of the Mayor’s Choice & City Space at the Discovery Centre in Winchester.  Helen’s work is said by the School of Architecture, to be an excellent example of the active engagement with ‘live projects’ the Schools aims for, enabling students to gain valuable professional experience and push the boundaries of the profession.

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