Architectural Association’s Foster + Partners Prize 2012 Goes to Yi Yvonne Weng

© Yi Yvonne Weng

The and Foster + Partners have announced AA diploma student Yi Yvonne Weng as winner of the 2012  for her project, ‘The 6th Layer – Expolorative Canopy Trail’. The prize is awarded annually to the AA Diploma student whose portfolio best addresses the themes of sustainability and infrastructure.

Yvonne Weng stated: “Programmatically, the project is centred on scientific exploration and harvesting medicinal plants, which provides an alternative use of the forest without destroying it. At the same time, the positive occupation of the territory it enables could provide a level of surveillance that helps to protect both the endangered environment and the indigenous population.”

Continue after the break to learn more.

Forest Bottom View © Yi Yvonne Weng

Set in the context of Brazilian Amazon rainforest, the project recognizes the reciprocal relationship between humanity and the forest and sees the forest as a natural infrastructure to work with, instead of against. The design focuses on creating an ultra-lightweight, self-sustaining and easily deployable architectural system, which occupies the space at the top of the tree canopies. The extra layer of space created opens up a new territory that inspires new ways in which to perceive, occupy and experience the forest.

© Yi Yvonne Weng

Yvonne Weng, and the other six shortlisted candidates, will be invited to exhibit their work in the gallery in Foster + Partners’ studio in October, when there will be a formal reception and a cheque will be presented.

© Yi Yvonne Weng

The themes of sustainability and infrastructure that underpin the award were selected to highlight themes of common interest to the AA and Foster + Partners and for their significance in contemporary architectural discourse more globally.

Canopy Mesh Exploration documentation, option 1 © Yi Yvonne Weng

Mouzhan Majidi, Chief Executive of Foster + Partners, said: “This is the third year we have awarded this prize and in Yvonne Weng’s project we see it gaining strength. We hope very much that the debate this prize generates will encourage students to address themes that are of increasing relevance to architecture today.”

Brett Steele, Director of the Architectural Association School of Architecture, said: “The AA School is delighted once again to have participated in the judging of the Foster + Partners Prize. The work of this year’s winner indicates the enthusiasm and imagination shown by AA Diploma students in addressing challenging, topical issues in architecture. We are grateful to Foster + Partners for their continued support of the prize and the innovative work it encourages.” Reference: Foster + Partners, AA School of Architecture

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Architectural Association’s Foster + Partners Prize 2012 Goes to Yi Yvonne Weng" 16 Jul 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>
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  • Ali Hajipour

    Don’t want to rain on their parade, but did anyone else watch the National Geographic special back in the 1980s about the amazon rainforest & the insects in the trees. I forget the exact title of the episode, but they used this same canopy thing & it was also airdropped by a blimp. These guys just ripped off that design & made it a little more modern.

    • Rob M

      yes, although I read the articles in the National Geographic magazine, not the series. This was way back and I also don’t have references. In fact if memory serves, I think there have been 2 featured writeups on canopy exploration.

      The difference between what they were doing and this, is those were temporary setups, and not safe for the general public. Their setup wasn’t much more than a lattice mast made from 3 smaller 325mm lattice masts and a net thrown over the top. Something that would not be viable for the long term.

      I like this idea, as it is making the canopy accessible to anyone in the general public. Coming from a “western-culture”, insects are not something that is even on ones mind. In Japan, school activities include going out at night and “insect listening” (so I’ve heard from people who stayed there).