The Bartlett School of Architecture


Bartlett success at 2014 RIBA President's Awards for Research

13 November 2014


We are delighted to announce that Dr Barbara Penner from The Bartlett School of Architecture has won the prestigious RIBA President's Award for Research in the category of 'Outstanding University-led Research' for 'Bathroom' (pictured above). Commendations were also awarded to Ben Campkin, for 'Outstanding University-led Research', and Emma Cheatle in the category of 'Outstanding PhD Thesis'.

The awards champion high-quality research and highlight the need for research across the profession to nurture innovation and strategic thinking. The winning Bartlett research projects are summarised below. 

President's Award for Outstanding University-led Research winner
Dr Barbara Penner, 'Bathroom'

Barbara Penner's book ‘Bathroom’ addresses the lack of scholarly research about the design of the ‘smallest room’. It has two objectives: first, it tries to understand historically how the developed world's sanitation model was established as the global ‘gold standard’ for dealing with water and waste. And second it considers cases of what can be called ‘unlocking’, where this model is challenged and rethought in some way, for instance, by the environmental movement or social justice campaigns.

The judges considered the research to be a good polemic with just the right amount of provocation for readers, commenting "the author’s passion for the subject made the work all the more interesting".

President's Award for Outstanding University-led Research commendation: Ben Campkin, 'Remaking London: 'Decline and Regeneration in Urban Culture' 

The research underpinning 'Remaking London' focuses on present-day regeneration areas – places that earlier were key to the capital's functioning as a modern city, but in the mid- to late-twentieth century were designated as opportunity areas and subjected to repeated plans for reconfiguration. Each chosen locale has been stigmatised through identification with base conditions, and spatial and social disorder. To illuminate how ideas of decline have driven urban change the research looked in depth at eight contested sites and systematically examined, on the one hand, dysfunctional architectures – slums, ruins, degraded infrastructure, sink estates, sick and derelict buildings – and on the other, the late-modern aesthetics of decline and regeneration.

The judges applauded the effort required to tackle such an expansive subject, breaking into areas about which not enough has been written previously.

RIBA President’s Award for the Outstanding PhD Thesis commendation:
Emma Cheatle for ‘Part-architecture: the Maison de Verre through the Large Glass’

Cheatle's PhD thesis is a detailed study of the iconic modernist building the Maison de Verre (Pierre Chareau, 1928–32), explored through the ideas of the Large Glass (Marcel Duchamp, 1915–23). The Large Glass depicts a repeated act of unconsummated sexual relations, in lead, dust and paint on two large framed glass planes. These subject matters and materials are used as tools to draw out and challenge related concepts and materials in the Maison de Verre. Through an original form of architectural research using femininst and psychoanalytic methodologies, the thesis establishes a new socio-sexual analysis of the building in 1930s Paris.

The PhD was described by the judges as "a sophisticated with significant attention to detail and reflection."

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