Francesca Torzo has been declared the winner of the Moira Gemill Prize for Emerging Architecture, along with Mariam Kamara who has been Highly Commended, and Tracy Meller who has won the MJ Long Prize for Excellence in Practice
The Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture recognises excellence in design and a bright future for women designers under the age of 45, with an emphasis on achievements and completed projects, while the MJ Long Prize for Excellence in Practice awards an architect excelling in practice in the United Kingdom.
Winner of the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture
We are delighted to announce that Francesca Torzo, founder of Francesca Torzo Architetto, has won the Moira Gemmill Prize. Based in Genoa, Torzo’s architecture is one of care but also persistence and unyielding will. The extension to the Z33 art house in Hasselt, Belgium, and due to open on 14 March 2020, is informed by a memory of the beguinage in which it sits, creating a ‘silent’ facade of red brick along the street and a Kasbah of rooms nestled behind. The practice’s future projects include two residential projects in Italy and two in China, including a dance school in Bishan near Huangshan and a tea house in Yangshuo. Torzo will receive a £10,000 prize fund created in memory of the late Moira Gemmill, director of design at the V&A and latterly director of capital programmes at the Royal Collection Trust. The prize fund will support Torzo in her continuing professional development.
The judges commented that ‘each of Torzo’s projects is a complete reinvention of what architecture can be, with maze-like plans or strange constructional logics. Z33 is both beautiful and poetic, Torzo setting a scene for characters to animate, like a theatre director. She occupies the same space as Olgiati or Zumthor, but she goes even beyond her mentors – achieving a level of completeness in an industry that doesn’t often allow for it.’
You can read our review of the Z33 art house here.
Highly Commended for the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture
Mariam Kamara has also been Highly Commended for the prize. Based in Niamey, the founder of Atelier Masōmī concerns her practice with the use of locally derived resources and the representation of women and young people in public life. Recent projects include the Niamey 2000 housing development, conceived in 2016 with united4design, and Hikma religious and secular complex in Dandaji. This consisted of a new mosque along with the restoration and conversion of the former mosque into a community space and library, designed in collaboration with Studio Chahar and opened in 2018.
The judges commented that ‘Kamara is creating space for vulnerable communities; architecture that really makes an impact, that changes social dynamics and relationships. Using vernacular construction techniques in a context with very few architects, she challenges the idea that you can only build in concrete, changing a relationship with landscape and ecology that presents a different kind of beauty.’
You can read our review of Atelier Masōmī’s work here.
Winner of the MJ Long Prize for Excellence in Practice
Tracy Meller, partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, has been awarded the MJ Long Prize for Excellence in Practice 2020 for her work on Centre Building, London School of Economics, UK. Won in competition in 2013, the project sets a new block of teaching spaces, lecture halls and staff offices into Holborn in the heart of London. The urban realm extends into the ground floor, leading in to a great meandering staircase that is designed to catalyse spatial and social connection – student enclaves are convivial and civilised, while staff areas, with a mixture of cellular and open-plan offices, are intended to tactfully dissolve departmental silos.
The judges commented that ‘Meller is gutsy and humane at the same time. She’s a real leader, working collaboratively while still pulling the whole thing together. It’s a very difficult thing to do in a corporate culture, going against a general tendency of having a solo leading voice.’
You can read our review of Centre Building, LSE here
The shortlist for the MJ Long Prize for Excellence in Practice also includes Emma Fairhurst of Collective Architecture, for Calton Hill City Observatory in Edinburgh, Alice Hamlin of Mole Architects, for Marmalade Lane, Cambridge, and Nicola Rutt of Hawkins\Brown, for Here East, London.
Jane Drew Prize for Architecture and Ada Louise Huxtable Prize for Contribution to Architecture
Also celebrated by the 2020 W Awards are Yasmeen Lari, who this year won the Jane Drew Prize for Architecture, a prize which awards a lifetime contribution to the architectural profession, and Beatriz Colomina, who was awarded the Ada Louise Huxtable Prize for Contribution to Architecture, which recognises individuals working in the wider architectural industry who have made a significant contribution to architecture and the built environment. Read more about these awards here.
All shortlisted projects and practices have been published in the AR March 2020 issue on Masculinities + W Awards – click here to buy your copy today