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AJ Student Prize 2019: Birmingham City University

The two students selected for the AJ Student Prize by Birmingham City University

About the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design

  • Courses BA (Hons) Architecture, MArch, Postgraduate Diploma in Architectural Practice 
  • Location Birmingham 
  • Head of school Kevin Singh 
  • Full-time tutors 17 
  • Part-time tutors 45 
  • Number of students 377 
  • Staff to student ratio 1:15 
  • Fees £9,250 


Hanna Makhoul, BA (Hons) Architecture, Ctrl_Culture 

Undergraduate hanna makhoul

Undergraduate hanna makhoul

Project title ESN-u 1.0: Environmental Survey Network 

Project description The project is an environmental survey facility that functions with precise strategies based on bespoke masterplans of operations and consequent field recordings. Based in Bewdley, a town at the edge of England’s largest contiguous area of ancient woodland, ESN-u 1.0 has initiated the monitoring of the surrounding environment through devices such as Eddy Covariance instruments, Ceilometers and ECHIDNA Lidar. Each device has varying proximities to the unit as well as different applications. The unit’s modular construction system allows it to change locations and size according to the research. The lattice structure is configured to maximise the floor area and provide wide panoramic views to the landscape being surveyed. 

Tutor citation ‘Hanna’s project seeks to offer a fresh viewpoint of an issue that seems to be at a crossroads between science, design, politics and culture. The portfolios demonstrate a clear visual language of architecture that ties together its complex programme with a contextual response at a local and global scale.’ Selim Halulu 


Ayesha Kaur, MArch, Unit 1: Castles & Pavilions 

Postgraduate ayesha kaur

Postgraduate ayesha kaur

Project title The Island 

Project description The unit is concerned with housing and ‘the commons’ in relation to the resources, conventions and rituals involved in their creation and operation – this year at Ladywood and Port Loop in Birmingham. Low-cost housing projects in Portugal by Alvaro Siza and others were a response to the charged political context of the 1970s. They resulted in development of the ‘Ilha’ or ‘islands’ of low-income housing within city blocks. ‘The Island’ responds to this by proposing a hybrid model for housing and common spaces which foregrounds ‘the found conditions’ of the site, imagining the architect as an active agent for change. The project proposes an incremental development that empowers the people of Ladywood through processes of site remediation, landscape and programme via an architecture that evolves with its context. This contrasts with current regeneration processes which start from a clean site. 

Tutor citation ‘Ayesha’s project explored ideas of housing and the commons through the dynamics of private developer-led housing at Port Loop in Birmingham. Ayesha was interested in understanding the dynamics of regeneration in the area, recognising the latent potential of the ‘island’ site in how it might form a participatory model for a process of change that benefits the area’s residents. Her architectural response is at once serious and playful.’ Michael Dring