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Ken the Pen on WAF drawing prize: ‘Drawing is not valued enough’

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As this year’s World Architecture Festival drawing prize launches, we ask one of the judges, Ken ‘the Pen’ Shuttleworth, what he will be looking for

The 2019 Architecture Drawing Prize is seeking high-quality submissions in four separate categories: hand-drawings, hybrid drawings, digital still images, and a new category, working details. The anonymous competition is open to architects, designers and students. Supporters include Ken Shuttleworth’s practice Make Architects, Sir John Soane’s Museum and steel fabricator Hare.

All finalists will feature in an exhibition at Sir John Soane’s Museum in London in January and the overall winners will each receive a delegate pass, gala dinner tickets and two nights in a hotel during the World Architecture Festival in Amsterdam from 4 to 6 December.

The prize was founded in 2016 and is now in its third year. Entries are judged on technical skill, success in communicating a design idea, originality, quality of drawing, and architectural proposition.

The second annual Architecture Drawing Prize in 2018, went to Li Han one of the founding partners of Drawing Architecture Studio in Beijing, for his work entitled ‘The Samsara of Building No 42 on Dirty Street’.

This year’s judges include Shuttleworth, Narinder Sagoo of Foster + Partners and the artists Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell of Langlands and Bell.

The deadline for applications is 27 September and the winners and shortlist will be announced in October.

Ken Shuttleworth on the prize

Why are you holding an annual drawing prize across several categories?
Drawing was what made me want to become an architect and, as a student, I was known as ‘Ken the Pen’. At Make, conceptual design and communication with clients revolve around drawing. Yet, I have seen that among students and many architects, drawing is not valued enough – particularly as a way of exploring ideas. This is why we wanted a prize that would create a platform for drawing.

Drawing is not valued enough as a way of exploring ideas

The Architecture Drawing Prize is an ideal way to celebrate different types of drawing because it’s more than a contest. The prize provides a platform for discourse with the exhibition and events that take place to mark the work of the shortlisted and winning entrants. This is why we were keen to work with Sir John Soane’s Museum and WAF, which have been excellent partners in offering a wide programme that supports the prize. The blog and social media activity as well as the calibre of judges have no doubt helped attract real talent to enter from around the world.

We have enjoyed seeing how being involved with the prize has helped entrants secure jobs at some of the world’s leading architecture studios.

What would you like to see in this year’s entries?
This year we are excited to have a new category for working detail drawings made possible through our sponsor Hare. I am looking forward to seeing detail drawings that really stand out in terms of how they communicate a specific solution.

The frustrating constraint of the prize is to judge drawings that are works of art and have taken months to complete alongside drawings that more or less fit into the workflow of a project.

It would be great to see an imaginative drawing narrative for sustainable building

Saying that, the workflow drawings although perhaps not as laboured, can really excel through an innovative use of a medium or a highly original and memorable way of expressing an idea. During judging, we are always pleased to see entrants who are looking at drawing afresh and doing unexpected things with the medium. It would be great to see someone create an imaginative drawing narrative for sustainable building.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
The prize is a real opportunity for undiscovered talented individuals or collaboratives who can gain recognition by winning. We have already seen shortlisting lead to exciting opportunities including being headhunted.

Are there any other recent architectural drawings you have been impressed by?
I have always been really inspired by Birkin Haward’s architectural drawings and am very happy to see how he has recently approached his painting with equal vigour and skill.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

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