University of Westminster architecture graduates have again taken the plaudits in the annual Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) international prizes for student excellence.

University of Westminster flag

Two of the three main categories in the RIBA President’s Medals Student Awards 2009, which were announced last Wednesday, were won by students from Westminster’s Graduate Diploma in Architecture course.

Nicholas Szczepaniak won the 2009 RIBA Silver Medal for his project entitled A Defensive Architecture. Nicholas’ project considered the dangers of climate change and suggested a practical solution to coastal erosion in the Blackwater Estuary in Essex through a set of modern-day Martello towers housing a national book repository. His project also won the coveted SOM Travel Scholarship Prize at postgraduate level.

Another student from the Graduate Diploma course, Rebecca Gregory, won the 2009 RIBA Dissertation Medal for her essay on The Art of Skew Bridges, which focussed on a specialised kind of bridge construction that became popular in Victorian Britain with the advent of the railways.

These latest successes in the prestigious RIBA President’s Medals competition major prizes demonstrate once more quality of Westminster’s Department of Architecture, said head Kate Heron.

“Students from the Graduate Diploma in Architecture have won the RIBA Silver Medal three times in the last five years and the RIBA Dissertation Medal four times in the same period,” she said.

“Over 100 architectural schools compete for the awards each year, and no other school in Britain, or internationally, comes even remotely close to matching this level of achievement – proving again that the standard of architectural teaching at this University is amongst the very best in the world.”

Professor Murray Fraser, course leader for the Graduate Diploma in Architecture, said: “This postgraduate professional course is now the most popular and demanding in Britain, and the high quality of our students is confirmed by just how often they winning worldwide competitions.

“Nicholas created a beautifully atmospheric proposal that was exquisitely conceived and drawn. Rebecca carried out a brilliant two-pronged analysis which was exceptionally well written and mature and will now be published in an academic journal,” he said.

The two award winners receive £2,000 each and their work will be on display alongside the other prize winners at RIBA, London W1 until the end of January 2010.

RIBA President’s Medals Student Awards Rebecca receiving her RIBA award
 Nicholas Szczepaniak  Rebecca Gregory

(Photographs by Steve Speller, courtesy RIBA)


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