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Sheila O’Donnell and Xu Tiantian announced the winners of the Women in Architecture awards 2019

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Sheila O’Donnell and Xu Tiantian have been named the winners of the Architect of the Year prize and the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture

The Architectural Review and the Architects’ Journal are delighted to announce Sheila O’Donnell as Architect of the Year and Xu Tiantian as the winner of the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture in the 2019 Women in Architecture awards, revealed today.

The Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture recognises excellence in design and a bright future for designers under the age of 45, with an emphasis on achievements and completed projects, while the Architect of the Year prize rewards a single recently completed project.

Sheila O’Donnell has won Architect of the Year for her work on the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, by O’Donnell + Tuomey. The scheme adds a new building, including a lecture theatre, cafés, offices, classrooms and a library, to an existing structure which has been transformed with bold interventions such as a dramatic pitched glass roof and sculptural red steel staircases. The buildings adopt the city’s architecture of courtyards and rhythmic stone facades, conversing with the surrounding buildings. The university, dedicated to open minds, borders and society, is at risk of closure following calls by the country’s president Viktor Orbán.

The judges commended the ‘exceptionally high-quality building which she evidently fought hard for. She is a role model for young women in architecture. Sheila O’Donnell did not have to break the glass ceiling – she and John Tuomey created a new reality.’

Read the AR’s piece about the Central European University here



The library of the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, by O’Donell + Tuomey. Photograph by Tamás Bujnovsky

Xu Tiantian, founder of DnA (Design and Architecture), has been awarded the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture 2019. Based in Beijing, Xu’s work focuses on the idea of ‘architectural acupuncture’ in the rural Chinese county of Songyang. Projects include a bridge connecting communities together, a brown sugar factory, the Hakka Indenture Museum, a tofu factory and the Wang Jing Memorial Hall.

Judges commended the ‘effortlessness, maturity and deftness about Xu’s work, which is equally translatable and relevant in rural China as north Yorkshire. Her projects are all deeply contextual, and executed with bravery and conviction. She is attempting to work in a sustainable way with an entrepreneurial spirit, and has clearly had a very positive impact on her client.’

Xu will receive a £10,000 prize fund created in memory of the late Moira Gemmill, director of design at the V&A and latterly director of capital programmes at the Royal Collection Trust. The prize fund will support Xu in her continuing professional development.

Read the AR’s profile of Xu here.

Screenshot 2019 02 11 at 18.55.46

Screenshot 2019 02 11 at 18.55.46

Source: Wang Ziling

Brown Sugar Factory, Songyang, China, by DnA (Design and Architecture)

The Architect of the Year shortlist also included Eva Prats, co-founder of Flores & Prats, for Casal Balaguer Cultural Centre in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, by Flores & Prats and Duch-Pizà, Ellen van Loon, partner at OMA, for the Qatar National Library in Doha by OMA, and Carme Pigem, co-founder of RCR Arquitectes, for De Krook Library in Ghent, Belgium, by RCR Arquitectes and Coussée & Goris Architecten.

Also celebrated in the 2019 Women in Architecture awards is American architect and co-founder of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Elizabeth Diller, who won the 2019 Jane Drew Prize, an award recognising an architectural designer who, through work and commitment to design excellence, has raised the profile of women in architecture. London-based Swiss-French architectural photographer Hélène Binet is the winner of the 2019 Ada Louise Huxtable Prize, which recognises individuals working in the wider architectural industry who have made a significant contribution to architecture and the built environment. Read more about these awards here.

Click here to purchase the AR’s March 2019 issue on Women in Architecture