Studio Weave lands £10,000 RIBA research award

Elizabeth Hopkirk

Je Ahn

Source: Jim Stephenson

Co-housing project was one of four to be recognised

Studio Weave has scooped a £10,000 RIBA award to research independence and privacy in co-housing.

Je Ahn & Maria Smith, founders of the practice that was shortlisted for last year’s Young Architect of the Year Awards, were among four winners of this year’s RIBA Research Trust Awards.

Architect Guan Lee and artist Eleanor Morgan also scooped £10,000 for a project called Clay Robotics: Sustainable practice in a digital world.

They said: “This practice-led research project will reconsider the extraction and use of local clay deposits by combining traditional expertise with robotic technologies. Focusing on the geological and cultural sites of clay beds in Buckinghamshire, the aim of the project is to advance sustainable and site-responsive architectural practices…

“The objectives of the project include developing a local clay ‘recipe’ that works sustainably with the robotic dispenser, and which can be used with digital technologies to create domestic and architectural forms that are ecologically and economically efficient.”

Iain Jackson, an architect and lecturer at Liverpool School of Architecture, and architectural and design historian Peter Richmond receive £7,650 for The Architecture of Herbert Rowse: Monumental Modernism of interwar Britain.

And architect Christian Frost was awarded £2,350 for From Medieval House to Palazzo: Dwelling, festival and ritual in late medieval Florence.

Meanwhile Matthew Lucraft, currently a part I working as an architectural assistant at Threefold Architects, is the 2014 winner of the RIBA Boyd Auger Scholarship.

He receives £5,000 for his overseas project Resurget Ceneribus: The Nascent Revival of Detroit.

The Boyd Auger Scholarship supports architecture students or recent graduates by providing an opportunity to undergo a period of imaginative and original research and travel.

The annual RIBA Research Trust Awards support independent architectural research.

RIBA President, Stephen Hodder said: “Congratulations to the winning recipients for their compelling proposals. In different ways, all of these projects will be beneficial to the advancement of architecture and I look forward to seeing the findings in due course.

“I’m proud RIBA is championing essential architectural research; it is vital for our profession as it enables us to evolve and discover innovative solutions to many of the challenges we face today.”

Professor Murray Fraser, chair of the RIBA research grants sub-committee, said: “From an incredibly high number of applications received for the RIBA Research Trust Awards this year, we are delighted to choose these four outstanding projects. They give an excellent spread of intensive academic studies and innovative design research work.

“We were equally impressed with Matthew’s application…  and are eager to see the results of his research into community-driven regeneration schemes in Detroit.”

Meanwhile, the five winners of the 2014 RIBA Wren Insurance Association Scholarships have also been announced. Each winner will receive £5,000 for the last year of their part II course and the opportunity to be mentored by a member of the Wren.

The 2014 winners are:

·         Keith Diplock from the University of Kent

·         Thomas Glover from the Royal College of Art

·         Lucy Moroney from the Architectural Association

·         Rebecca Muirhead from University College London

·         Victoria Slater from the University of Liverpool


Maria Smith and Je Ahn’s application

This project is to research independence and privacy in co-housing. We are interested in models of living together more closely; why we as a society moved away from shared living toward individual homes; and why now – as our population ages and housing in urban situations becomes increasingly challenging – shared living models are becoming relevant in a new way.

Key to successful shared living is untangling two sliding scales: shared to private, and supported to independent. We propose to investigate these issues with three types of co-housing models: for intellectually disabled people, for elderly people, and in dense urban situations.

We believe that these three types of co-housing have a great deal to learn from each other and that this research is critical within the context of changing attitudes to the intellectually disabled, our aging population, the housing crisis, and the need to develop socially sustainable models for high density living.

This research project asks: 1) How can we discuss sharing, privacy, support, and independence with co-housing residents in order to genuinely determine appropriate levels of commonality for a community? 2) How can clarifying the differences between privacy and independence improve the spatial design of co-housing models? 3)What are the current legal and financial pit-falls, which might affect the set-up of a co-housing group? 4) What can urban co-housing groups, groups with intellectual disabilities, and elderly care groups learn from each other?

Seeing intellectually disabled people as citizens of an inclusive society requires that we think carefully about how all our fellow citizens can communicate their needs and affect change in their environment.

Our aging population requires new models for living, and in cities - and especially in London - the housing shortage and inflated prices mean that alternative ideas as to how we can live densely and sustainably but also socially are urgently required.

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