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RIBA President’s Medals: Bartlett student’s myth-inspired Finnish city among winners

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A Finnish folk story carved into the fabric of a city and a proposal for a hotel inside an electrical substation have been named the world’s best student projects in 2018

Part 2 Bartlett student Sonia Magdziarz scooped the Silver Medal for her imaginative redesign of a district in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, inspired by a mythical epic poem.

The judges said the project, ‘How to Carve a Giant’, emphasises the powerful role architects play in defining the cultural heritage and identity of communities. 

University of Bath Part 1 student Justin Bean won the Bronze Medal for his hotel in an electrical substation which explores the uncomfortable relationship between humans and technology.

Bean’s project, ‘Dreaming of Electric Sheep’, named after Phillip K Dick’s science fiction novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, was praised as a ‘resolved architectural piece that is both sophisticated and beautiful’. 

The student winners will be presented with their awards at a ceremony at the RIBA HQ in central London this evening. 

RIBA president Ben Derbyshire said: ‘The breadth and scale of talent evidenced in the design proposals and writings produced by this year’s winners is truly remarkable.

‘This is an emerging generation of skilled thinkers who are able to distil complex ideas and resolve them into sophisticated architectural proposals. They are all talents to watch.’

The 2018 RIBA President’s Medals exhibition is at the RIBA in London from 5 December to 15 February, before it tours throughout the UK and internationally. 

Silver Medal (Part 2 or equivalent) – Winner 

Silver medal winner sonia magdziarz

Silver medal winner sonia magdziarz

  • Sonia Magdziarz (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL) for ’How to Carve a Giant’


  • Sam Coulton (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL) for ‘London Physic Gardens: A New Necropolis
  • Kevin Herhusky (California Polytechnic State University) for ‘Infrastructures of Memory, Phygital Bodies in a Concrete Cloud’ 
  • Ruth McNickle (Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture) for ‘Tilling the Prado: A Furrow of Re-Construction’ 

Bronze Medal (Part 1 or equivalent) – Winner 

Bronze medal winner justin bean

Bronze medal winner justin bean

  • Justin Bean (University of Bath) for ‘Dreaming of Electric Sheep’


  • Alexander Wilford (University of Greenwich) for ‘Smithfield Lorry Depot’ 
  • Camille Bongard (Architectural Association) for ‘A Choreographed Timeline, Rewriting RIBA Building Contract’ 
  • Sam Beattie (University of Nottingham) for ‘A Bridge to Wellness’ 

Dissertation Medal – Winner 

  • Rosemary Milne (Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture) for ‘Species of Nooks and Other Niches’ 


  • Ethan Loo (University of Sheffield) for ‘Reading the Past and the Faraway: Simulation, Meaning, and Macau’ 
  • Marie-Henriette Desmourès (London Metropolitan University) for ‘The Whole-body Seer: Blindness as Narrative, Subject and a Way of Seeing’ 
  • Mark Shtanov (University of Cambridge) for ‘Another Hotel in Africa: A New Prototype for a Community-Initiated, Phased West African Hotel Project with Attached Hospitality School, in Lekki, Nigeria’ 

The Serjeant Awards for Excellence in Drawing

  • Camille Dunlop (RIBA Part 1, Bartlett School of Architecture) for ‘Pipeline Hijacking’
  • Maria Marilia Lezou (RIBA Part 2, University of Greenwich) for ‘Hotel Mollino: Staging Spaces of the Everyday as Heterotopias of Performance in Scenography and Architecture’
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