UCL News


UCL graduates and researchers awarded prestigious RIBA prizes

4 December 2019

Four graduates, four academics and an alumnus at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, have been recognised by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

'Riad al Nisa' - Imogen Dhesi

Architecture BSc graduate Annabelle Tan Kai Lin won the RIBA Bronze Medal for the world’s best student project while Dr Tania Sengupta was awarded the prestigious RIBA President’s Medal for Research.

In addition, Architecture MArch graduate Finbar Charleson and Architecture BSc graduate Imogen Dhesi were commended in the Silver Medal and Bronze Medal categories respectively, while Naomi Rubbra, Architecture MArch graduate, won the Dissertation Medal. Bartlett academics Dr Kerstin Sailer, Rosica Pachilova and Oliver Wilton, with Bartlett alumnus Matthew Barnett Howland, also won awards for their research.

The prizes were awarded at this year’s President’s Medals Ceremony on Tuesday 3rd December.

Annabelle Tan Kai Lin was awarded the RIBA Bronze Medal for the best design project produced during RIBA Part 1, for her project ‘Wetland Frontier’. Her proposal imagines the regeneration of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward community and the adjacent wetlands. The area was the most affected by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, and was flooded again a month later by Hurricane Rita.

Her project addresses urban ecosystems, disaster-proof housing and sediment satellites to propose a new approach to nature in New Orleans.

'Wetland Frontier' - Annabelle Tan Kai Lin

Ms Tan Kai Lin, who graduated in 2019, said: “While it is always comforting to be acknowledged for hard work, I accept this prize more as a call to continue to do better. This recognition and moment of joy should be shared with my tutors, peers and family.”

She also won the SOM Foundation Fellowship and the inaugural award for Sustainable Design.

Finbar Charleson was awarded a RIBA Commendation in the Silver Medal Category for his project ‘London Euston’, which imagines the first transit terminal structure constructed from wood. The project drew on historical references and experimented with wood lamination, using material science, sculpture, furniture design, naval architecture and aviation.

'London Euston' - Finbar Charleson

Mr Charleson said: “The RIBA has an excellent reputation for celebrating quality architecture. In this instance I am delighted to receive the commendation for their Silver Medal.

“I would like to thank my design and thesis tutors for the excellent support and lessons which I’m sure will continue to serve me well.”

Imogen Dhesi, who graduated in 2019 with an Architecture BSc, won a RIBA Commendation in the Bronze Medal category for her project ‘Riad Al Nisa’, which is a building for women in Marrakesh who are isolated or ostracised from their communities.

The design provides accommodation, vegetated courtyards and a new public space which functions as a mint tea garden and enables the building’s residents to interact and foster relationships with their neighbours.

It is built around an opulent water feature, adapted to the Marrakesh climate, that cools the building whilst also providing an acoustic and atmospheric experience.

Ms Dhesi said: “I really enjoyed working on this project – it was a sensitive and challenging programme which required a lot of thought. I worked hard and I chose to explore something I was passionate about and that deserves attention – having that recognised feels incredible.”

In addition to the above, Dr Tania Sengupta was awarded the Research Medal for her work ‘Papered Spaces: Clerical practices, Materialities and Spatial Cultures of Provincial Governance in Bengal, Colonial India, 1820s-1860s’. She also won the History and Theory category for the President’s Award for Research.

Rosica Pachilova and Dr Kerstin Sailer won the Building in Quality category for the President’s Award.

Oliver Wilton won the Design and Technical Category for the President’s Award for Research with Matthew Barnett Howland of CSK Architects.

The Royal Institute of British Architects’ President’s Medals are awarded each December, in Bronze and Silver for RIBA Parts 1 and 2 (or equivalent), with one overall winner and up to three commendations. The RIBA Dissertation Medal and Serjeant Awards for Excellence in Architectural Drawing at Parts 1 and 2 are also awarded, as well as the SOM Foundation Fellowships UK for Parts 1 and 2.

In 2019 a record 404 institutions in 80 countries were invited to take part in the awards. Each architecture school can nominate from work produced by students in the most recent academic season.



  • Title image: 'Riad Al Nisa', Imogen Dhesi
  • 'Wetland Frontier', Annabelle Tan Kai Lin
  • 'London Euston', Finbar Charleson


Media contact

Kate Corry

Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 6995

Email: k.corry [at] ucl.ac.uk