On Tuesday 5 December, Westminster Master of Architecture (MArch) student Rhiain Bower won the RIBA President’s Dissertation Medal 2017.

Rhiain Bower has been awarded the RIBA Dissertation Medal for her MArch Dissertation entitled ‘Baricsio. The slate quarrymen’s barracks in North West Wales’. Her study of 19th century barrack dwelling slate quarrymen in North-West Wales documents the physical structures, collating fieldwork and archival data, and the wider social sphere through newspapers, poetry and accounts of social history.

The family home, weekly commute, weekend family and rural subsistence livelihood was a stark contrast to the quarry, with bleak conditions and back-breaking work, yet cultural and political opportunities unavailable in rural domestic life. 

She was supervised by Professor Harry Charrington who said: “This is a significant piece of work, and, recognised as such, will be published in the forthcoming Journal of Architecture. The thesis represents a personal endeavour which has generated a new body of primary material, and which restores a story that has been too long ‘out of sight, out of mind’. The thesis grounds itself in (the lack of) current research, and covers labour history and relations, geology, gender, and language to put the barracks in place.

“It is underscored by the author’s engagement with, detailed surveying and beautiful photography of, the sites. The use of poetry further accentuates the qualities of the austere but resonant atmosphere of the life of these places, which the meagre ruins only hint at. It was a privilege to tutor”.

It is the 4th time in a row that a Westminster student has won an award in the RIBA President’s Medals

In 2015, Marie Price was awarded the Medal for her MArch Dissertation entitled ‘The Overlooked Back Garden: Voyeurism In the English Back Garden’.

The University of Westminster’s Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment is one of the leading centres for the study of Architecture and the Built Environment inspiring more than 2,000 students at its teaching base at the Marylebone Campus in central London.

Find out more about the Master of Architecture (MArch) course offered at the University of Westminster.

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