The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the winners of the 2021 President's Medal and Awards for Research, highlighting the best research concerning architecture and the built environment. The President's Medal was awarded to John Lin and Sony Devabhaktuni from the University of Hong Kong for their research project As Found Houses, which explores vernacular practices in rural China. Two more awards were granted to the development of an ethics guide for architectural practitioners and a study of thin-tile vaulting in Cuba.
Established in 2006, the RIBA President's Awards for Research aims to encourage architectural research among students, academics and practitioners. The award features three categories: History and Theory, Cities and Community, Design and Technical, and an annual theme, which this edition was Education. The prize was a global reach, this year's edition featuring entries from around the globe, including China, Costa Rica or Australia.
From the highly distinguished study of long-forgotten homes adapted by villagers in China to the detailed exploration of Cuban vaulting, to the project that looks at embedding ethics into the practice of research itself – I commend each of these thought-provoking studies for the contribution they make to our knowledge of architecture and practice - RIBA President Simon Allford.
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The award-winning research projects are:
- Education (2021 annual theme): Will I Cause Harm?: Practising Ethics Guides for Built Environment Research by Dr David Roberts, Prof Jane Rendell & Dr Yael Padan from the Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL; and Ariana Markowitz & Dr Emmanuel Osuteye from the Bartlett Development Planning Unit at UCL.
- Cities and Community: As Found Houses: Experiments from Self-builders in Rural China by John Lin & Sony Devabhaktuni from the Department of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong.
- History and Theory: Beyond the National Art Schools: Thin-Tile Vaulting in Cuba after the Revolution by Dr Mohammad Wesam Al Asali & Dr Michael H. Ramage from the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge; and Dr Dania González Couret from the Universidad Tecnológica de la Habana, José Antonio Echeverría, Cuba.
- Design and Technical: A commendation has also been awarded to Professor Elena Marco at the University of The West of England for Stuff and Space in the Home: Space for Storage as the forgotten design and well-being dimension in standardised housing.