The president’s medals have become more about the power of their narrative than the actual architectural proposal.
Quit your job now and enjoy what little time we have left on this planet – our solemn advice, having just seen the winners of the RIBA President’s Medals. Once a year, President’s medal students present their best attempts at human salvation, against the increasingly conventional backdrop of some post-industrial wasteland. Is there still much relevance to this exercise, or have we lost the plot somewhere?
The student architecture project has always been a platform for the critical discussion of today’s logistical and societal challenges. But be it an acute environmental phenomena or morally contentious issue being examined, these projects have become more about the power of their narrative than the actual architectural proposal.
Perhaps it’s just easier to construct a two-dimensional architectural wasteland than risk the controversy of defining an ideal world; it’s often a far more exciting prospect to the student, especially when the choice is between exaggerating an environmental crisis than solving the mundane problems of everyday life.
It’s just a pity that awards such as the President’s medal become distracted by melodramatic scale which often bypasses conventional architectural criticism and these pieces are judged by their evocative renders and who’s put the latest tweak on the age-old story of apocalypse.
Oliver Green and Nate Humphries are based in Berlin and run the polemical blog Miserable Architects