Nottingham student wins top RIBA award for architectural drawing

Wednesday, 02 December 2020

A University of Nottingham undergraduate has won a coveted prize in the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) President’s Medals 2020, the annual awards for the world’s best student architecture projects.

Awarded in two parts, the Serjeant Award for Excellence in Drawing for RIBA Part 1 went to Edwin Maliakkal, 22, from the Department of Architecture and Built Environment.

He triumphed over a record 134 other entrants from schools worldwide for his work The Fifth Orchestration, which explored the future of architecture and how we perceive and engage with the fluidity of specific moments in space and time.

Realm: the fragmented reality that is conjured up within the mind

The project, explained Edwin, not only seeks to question the way we experience architecture, but also how these experiences start to reconstruct themselves in the face of a new “hyperreal landscape that is starting to embed itself within the fabric of time”.

The judges praised the “creative confidence, breadth, and overall quality of the graphic work”, which made Edwin’s design stand “head and shoulders above the others”.

Edwin, from Kerala in India, explained that his project aimed to challenge traditional methods of representation and the process of design that exists within architecture. “I was able to communicate this idea with confidence in my design and drawings,” he said.

RIBA winner Edwin Maliakkal

Edwin, who graduated this summer from a BArch (RIBA/ARB Part 1), said he was thrilled and overjoyed to find out he had won, which came as “more than a pleasant surprise.”

Despite Covid-19 restrictions that meant Edwin could not celebrate in person with friends or family, he “made the most of a fun, virtual celebration with an Indian takeaway to feel at home”.

RIBA invited a record 426 schools of architecture located in 82 countries to enter student work for the awards. The University of Nottingham submitted two entrants under the Bronze Awards category. One of those submission was Edwin who went on to win the Serjeant Awards for Excellence in Drawing.

Edwin praised his Department for introducing him to “philosophies and ideas” that were “critical” in his development as an architectural student and for their guidance during the competition. “Even after I graduated, my tutor kindly gave me additional help to keep on track with achieving my goal of success in the RIBA Awards. I couldn’t have done this without the support of my unit 4B tutors and my department,” he said.

Mani Lall, Edwin’s tutor in the design studio module at the University of Nottingham’s Department of Architecture and Built Environment, said Edwin’s determination, hard work and prolific productivity produced an excellent portfolio and recognition which is thoroughly deserved.

“Edwin demonstrated a tenacity in exploring ideas and having the courage to consider the possibility of an alternative response to what architecture could be. His proposal considers a layering of moments and events within a spatial construct that explored philosophical, scientific and spiritual threads that combine to suggest an alternative realm; in many ways exceeding the requirements of the brief, he produced a project which poses as many questions as it answers.”
Mani Lall, Unit 4B tutor, Department of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Nottingham

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