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SEDA launches student prize for ecological design

Dundee School of Architecture student Claire O’Neil has won SEDA’s Krystyna Johnson Award

The Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA) has relaunched the Krystyna Johnson Award as an award in ecological design open to all second year architectural students in Scotland. A tutor at both Glasgow schools of architecture and an architect with ASSIST, Johnson passed away in 2003. Her colleague and husband Jim Johnson formed a trust in her memory. While the original fund was used for traveling scholarships, SEDA has relaunched the award this year to recognise an outstanding project in ecological design.

The intention of the award is to recognise sustainable design by students still growing into architecture. All five Scottish schools of architecture were asked to put forward a current project from their curriculum, and every school answered the call. Projects ranged both in content and location:

  • a boat restoration facility in Port Soy
  • a library in St Andrews
  • an Edinburgh Printing Press
  • a primary school in Dundee
  • and a dwelling place in Inveraray.

Today’s students push forward with such dazzling imagery that we wondered if we would have lasted the pace. We also wondered if the presentation is just a veneer. To assess the projects, five SEDA members joined with the year tutors to choose a winner from each school. This deliberation was made at SEDA’s annual conference in Aberdeen, where we welcomed some of the individual winners. Those students that managed to come along had the opportunity to present their proposals and for those who did not manage, year tutors and SEDA judges stood in.

The ensuing rumble surprised us all. Archie Cantwell’s reinvigoration of derelict sites in ‘museumified’ Edinburgh with printing presses spreading community involvement came toe to toe with Jan Hajek’s clever mix of old and new in a boathouse proposed on a recycled hillside in Port Soy. Hajek was then beaten down by Niklavs Kriev’s subtle distribution of natural light into reading space within his library. Kriev was forced to give ground to Ren Yu P’ng’s understanding of integrated landscaping through a collage of public and private spaces developed into building interiors. Finally, punching with colour and structure, last standing was Claire O’Neil of Dundee School of Architecture with her primary school set in the outskirts of Dundee. Simply a joy for children to learn in, its classrooms are designed for technical comfort but more importantly for social interaction and the chance to ‘show off’.

Next year for the Krystyna Johnson Award 2014, the five Scottish schools will be joined by some heavyweight competition from Sheffield School of Architecture, the first of an annually invited guest. Melbourne School of Architecture have flung down their gauntlet for 2015.

Johnson’s memory will live long and looks to be spread both geographically and in the fresh minds of future ecological designers.

All winners of the Krystyna Johnson Award 2013 will be exhibited at the Lighthouse, Glasgow from 18 October to 27 November 2013 when SEDA will announce details for the 2014 award. The exhibition will be designed by the 2013 overall winner Claire O’Neil from Dundee School of Architecture. More information at www.seda.uk.net.

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