University of Strathclyde and ESALA dominate annual student architecture awards

Historic walls in Ahmedabad redesigned to help pomegranate growth, a community centre in Ratho rebuilt around circular economy principles and server towers that use big data to farm oysters are just some of the projects that scooped the prizes at this year’s Scottish Student Awards for Architecture.

University of Strathclyde and ESALA dominate annual student architecture awards

The best third year prize was given to The Last Straw by Gergana Negovanska

The projects were just some of the high-quality student projects awarded at the 2021 annual Architecture and Design Scotland (A&DS) and the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) event, sponsored this year by Marsh.

The winning students are:



Architecture and Design Scotland Award for Best 3rd Year Student

Gergana Aleksandrova Negovanska, Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture for The Last Straw: A Case for Reuse. Ratho Community Centre

Focussed on the circular economy and retrofitting spaces, this project takes the soon-to-be-demolished Ratho Library building and reimagines the space as a modular community space using limited but considered interventions.

Judges’ citation: “A thorough and enjoyable project that has a strong sustainability narrative at its heart. The ‘back story’ is well-explained, and the outcome is a modest but carefully planned group of community buildings for the community to gather and interact with nature. With a limited intervention to the existing structure and use of locally available additional materials, the concept is rooted in the ‘circular economy’.”



University of Strathclyde and ESALA dominate annual student architecture awards

Tiia Partanen won two awards for the project The Cloud Cooperative

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland Rowand Anderson Silver Medal for best 5th year student

Tiia Partanen, University of Strathclyde, for the project The Cloud Cooperative

Harnessing the Big Data Revolution, this project re-uses the energy produced from data servers into a mix of innovative and provocative uses. Using the heat produced for oyster farming and district heating, as well as utilising tidal power to create quartz glass blocks for permanent data storage.



Judges’ citation: “The judges were impressed by the research behind the creation of the brief for the project, the offer of a range of interconnected systems and structures to address the sustainability of current ‘connected society’ energy usage, and the representation of scalable prototype solutions for future mitigation, re-use, and re-purposing of the biproducts to reduce ‘virgin’ energy consumption, was a highly commendable basis for the work.”

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland Andy MacMillan Drawing Award

Tiia Partanen, University of Strathclyde, for the project The Cloud Cooperative

Judges’ citation: “A beautifully balanced and seductive collection of images, graphics, and text of many different types, each one succinctly adding to the clarity of the overall presentation which showed great understanding of one of the core requirements of architectural design: to communicate with the viewer. The beautifully balanced and seductive collection of images, graphics and text succinctly adding layer upon layer of clarity. “

University of Strathclyde and ESALA dominate annual student architecture awards

Rachel Dunne secured Urban and Sustainable design awards for Paradise Pomegranate Walls

Architecture and Design Scotland Urban Design Award

Rachel Dunne, Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture for Paradise Pomegranate: Walls, Wells & Selling

Using traditional building materials such as rammed earth, Paradise Pomegranate takes the historic old walls of Ahmedabad, India, and reconfigures them as an irrigation network to aid the city’s pomegranate growers. Centred on The Auction House, this network of water baths, gutters and stepwells store monsoon water and alleviate the rising temperatures in the city.

Judges’ citation: “The judges were impressed by the sensitive response, clearly reflecting a depth of understanding and knowledge of Ahmedabad’s Old City. The design worked effectively across different scales – the strategic, city scale as well as a finer-grain human scale. The images were evocative, especially the step wells and the pomegranate marketplaces bridging the old city walls. Truly outstanding work by the student.”

Architecture and Design Scotland Sustainable Design Award

Rachel Dunne, Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture for Paradise Pomegranate: Walls, Wells & Selling

Judges’ citation: “An outstanding response which shows how sustainability can work at a detailed level to wider strategic considerations. The project mended the city walls, re-established the stepwells and introduced an infrastructure for a centralised fruit-network and makes use of the high levels of rainfall during the monsoon season by collecting water to provide a network of storage, reusing and natural cooling.”

Over 100 entries were submitted for the awards from all five Scottish schools of architecture with the submissions shortlisted and judged anonymously. The initial shortlist was announced at the annual Andy MacMillan memorial lecture, this year given by academic Dr Jos Boys from the Bartlett School at University College London. Dr Boys, who was this year’s guest judge is the co-founder of Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative and Dis/Ordinary Architecture Project.

The winners were announced at a virtual event on October 1, the second time for the awards which recognise the talent of student architects and are awarded in a number of categories. The student awards offer a rare opportunity for the public and profession to see the best work of students from all of Scotland’s Schools of Architecture together in one space.

Speaking about the awards, A&DS chief executive, Jim MacDonald, said: “We are continuously looking to highlight Scotland’s emerging talent, and these awards – promoted jointly with the RIAS – are an excellent opportunity to showcase the high standard emerging from our schools of architecture.”

Christina Gaiger, president of the RIAS, commented at the virtual ceremony: “The student awards are important not just to me, but to homeowners, businesses, communities, government and the planet, the RIAS and Architecture and Design Scotland’s shared mission to inspire the next generation and promote and communicate innovative approaches in the built environment is critically important one for Scotland.”

Dr Jos Boys, this year’s guest judge added: “It’s been a huge pleasure for me to be invited to judge the student awards this year. Both because of the quality and the range of the shortlisted works, but it’s also because it’s been a joy to have an opportunity to discuss with other educators and practitioners just what we value about good work in our discipline and why we value it.”

The full list of commended and winning projects is available here.

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