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The President’s Medals Student Awards WINNERS [Part 3]

December 7, 2009

This is the third and last post about the winners of the The President’s Medals Student Awards. In two previous post [here and here] we have released some of the winners.


Pygmalion’s Cathedral of Cosmetic Surgery by Biten Patel from the University of Brighton Brighton UK. ‘Pygmalion’s Cathedral’ to Cosmetic surgery is an architectural project manifested from the visceral psychological issues involved within the inexorable growth of Cosmetic Surgery. The project looks to tell the story of a society of cosmetic surgeons who have succumbed to the ‘Pygmalion’s Complex’: an insatiable quest to create/mould perfection, a somewhat perverse allusion to the divine act of creation. The surgeons become divine, patients become devotees, and the architecture is a veil that plays on this religious hierarchy.

With the use of tallow wax as a key material component, fantastical ritualistic spaces are created, from the bodily sins of the confessional, the 1:1 scaled before/after tallow sculptures walkway to the ‘sanctum sanctorum’; the operating theatre. The Cathedral preys on the minds of the devotees, as the wax panels diffuse the surgeon’s presence into nothing more than flickering obscurities and silhouette projections. Louvers rise, floors sink, walls seep with wax, all beyond the control of the devotee, an act of divinity or an architectural illusion?



Wide Open / Land[s] in Lands by Marcus Todd from the University of Nottingham Nottingham UK. The Transient Tectonics Studio explores the duality of the physical/scientific and the emotional/cultural layers of experimental architecture in a natural environment of continuous change, cycles and scales.

“Wide Open/Land(s) in Lands” on the Isle of Sheppey investigates this duality through a sensitive balance between the integration of related lyrical texts, the photographic exploration of the (emotional) landscape through a pinhole camera and the narrative developed from the technique of investigation on the one hand, and the harsh physical and social reality of the place on the other.
The landscape is described through the wide line of the horizon as well as its perspective depth, relating back to photography. The surface of the land is cut and manipulated to receive the built structures, which through their orientation and dimension explore scale and proximity. The project adapts and reconfigures complex contextual conditions to suggest new possibilities. It exploits the opportunities of seasonal (weather, climate), visual (light, openness) and cultural (marshland, tourism) dynamics and translates this into a specific yet imaginative architectural articulation.


CommendationSOM Winner

The Secret Policemen’s Saloon by Robert Taylor from the The University of Sheffield Sheffield UK. Hidden inside Castlegate’s old Police Station, the Secret Policeman’s Saloon provides an after work club for the adjacent South Yorkshire Police’s headquarters in Sheffield’s city centre.

Accommodating a bar, an illegal brewery and a rugged hotel for the inebriated off duty officers, the project aims to expose Castlegate’s immoral underbelly and monumentalise its specific archaeology in a way that resists the future development plans for the area.

The narrative of the project was developed alongside its physical architecture as the complexity of the place’s moral condition was explored. As such, an architecture was conceived through a filmic schedule of operations and allegorically driven through 4 literal reversals of current architectural paradigms in Castlegate and the contemporary architectural canon:

Architecture posits the FAKE (not the AUTHENTIC)

DARKNESS is the revealer of form (not LIGHT)

Man is OFF-CENTRE of divine creation (not AT the centre)


These litanies, and every architectural idea, have been STOLEN from conveniently deceased architects so as to remove any responsibility for this illegal building from myself.


Serjeant Award

Desert(ed) Hotel by Anam Hasan from the University of Greenwich London UK. ‘As an exploration of the disjunction between expected form and expected use, we began a series of projects opposing specific programs with particular, often conflicting spaces. Programmatic context versus typology, typology versus spatial experience, spatial experience versus procedure, and so on, provided a dialectical framework for research. We consciously suggested programs that were impossible on the sites that were to house them: a stadium in Soho…a ballroom in a churchyard.’
Bernard Tschumi, ‘Architecture and Disjunction’

The Desert(ed) Hotel is composed of ‘programmatic sequences that suggest secret maps and impossible fictions, rambling collections of events all strung along a collection of spaces’ (Tschumi): diving into the fuselage of an airplane, a mechanised tea party, walking home along the dunes, sleeping on an airplane wing.

‘The events unfold frame after frame, room after room, episode after episode’ (Tschumi).

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