Three students from the University of Westminster have been nominated for the Architects’ Journal Student Prize 2020 in the entry categories undergraduate, postgraduate, and the Sustainability Award. 

Digital 3D render of architecture project by student Bilal El-Figuigui showing a vertical wooden towel with surrounding space and trees
Credit: Bilal El-Figuigui

For the first time, the AJ Student Prize was open to 54 Architecture schools across the UK which are all RIBA and ARB accredited. This year showed the highest amount of entries since the launch of the award, making it one of the most ambitious years yet. 

One of the Westminster nominees Bilal El-Figuigui, who is an undergraduate student studying on the Architecture BA Honours course at Westminster, created a project titled The Nest Tower. The aim of the project was to create a residential scheme which is realistic, sustainable and economical with lots of shared community space. The design displays a vertical co-living beacon in Leyton, Waltham Forest, highlighting the importance of quality of life for residents. The Nest Tower is not only designed for people, there is space for local birds too. 

Another nominee Thomas Riddell-Webster, who is a postgraduate student studying on the Master of Architecture (MArch) (RIBA Pt II) course at Westminster, designed a project he titled The Melting City. It challenges the effects of globalisation in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. The project proposes to use the city’s 1,000-year-old tradition of kite flying as a mechanism for cultural reconstruction. The natural resources of the city are acknowledged, and its traditions are celebrated. 

Riddell-Webster said: “It feels great to be nominated, very unexpected. Finishing an Architecture masters in lockdown was a real challenge so it’s nice to know that it didn’t damage my project too much. My tutors have been amazing over the last two years! They pushed me to realise my potential in the studio and were patient and generous with their time over Skype during lockdown. They work extremely hard and care a lot about their students, I owe them a huge amount.”

Gaby Bucknall, also a postgraduate studying on the Master of Architecture (March) (RIBA Pt II) course, was nominated for the Sustainability Award which is a prize that has only been running for two years. This award was created to highlight how innovative the students are in facing the current and demanding environmental issues and social pressures of the world. Bucknall’s project aims to address the problems surrounding invasive moth species in Northern Norway. 

Bucknall said: "I was completely surprised and honoured to be nominated for the AJ Sustainability Award, especially given the unusual and unstable working conditions, brought about by coronavirus, this year. My tutors, John Cook, Ben Pollock and Laura Nica have been extremely supportive all year and have guided me through a very exciting, but at times challenging, brief. I enjoyed every moment of this year and I am grateful for their hard work and guidance. They gave me the courage to have confidence in my ideas, without which I do not think I would have been nominated for the award."

Find out more about the Architecture and Interiors courses taught at the University of Westminster. 

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