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Homelessness project wins RIBA Research Medal

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An innovative project matching up people facing homelessness with addresses of empty buildings has won the RIBA President’s Research Medal

Architect Chris Hildrey, of Hildrey Studio, set up ProxyAddress with the aiming of taking postal addresses that are not being used and assigning them to homeless people so they can access vital support services. 

Hildrey, who has worked previously at Foster & Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects and OMA, set up the project to tackle the catch-22 situation whereby when rough sleepers lose access to a permanent postal address they risk being cut off.

Linking existing information and systems, the ProxyAddress database allows homeless people to access bank accounts, identification, benefits, a library card, and the avoidance of stigma while seeking employment.

Following an eight-month period of research and collaboration with the Royal Mail, national homeless charities, MPs and financial regulators, the project is now moving towards live trials with Lewisham Council in London.

Hildrey first developed the idea as an exhibit at the Design Museum in London, where he was an artist in residence in 2017.

RIBA president Ben Derbyshire said: ‘The RIBA Research Medal is the latest in a number of accolades that Chris Hildrey’s project to address the devastation of homelessness has deservedly received.

‘This work is representative of a trend in research submissions that are people focused; generating knowledge and ideas that seek to improve our way of living in the built environment. I look forward to seeing Chris’s project progress.’

ProxyAddress was selected as the top medal winner from other recipients of the 2018 RIBA President’s Awards for Research, which were also announced this evening.

Other category winners included the AA’s Kostas Grigoriadis for Design and Technical; The Bartlett’s Jane Rendall for History; and Roland Karthaus, Anthony Hu and Lucy Block of Matter Architecture for Ethics and Sustainable Development.

Full winners

Cities and Community

Chris Hildrey, Hildrey Studio

ProxyAddress: Using Location Data to Reconnect Those Facing Homelessness with Support Services

Design and Technical

Kostas Grigoriadis, Architectural Association School of Architecture

Computational Blends: The Epistemology of Designing with Functionally Graded Materials

History and Theory 

Prof Jane Rendell, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

May Mo(u)rn: transitional spaces in architecture and psychoanalysis – a site-writing.

Ethics and Sustainable Development 

Roland Karthaus, Anthony Hu and Lucy Block, Matter Architecture

Redesigning Prison – the Architecture and Ethics of Rehabilitation 

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