Naomi Rubbra, MA Architecture student, won two of five categories at the Student Awards for Architecture 2017. The awards, now in their 15th year, are supported by Architecture and Design Scotland (A&DS) and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS). They celebrate the talent of student architects across a variety of categories.

Naomi collected both the A&DS Award for Best 3rd Year Student and the A&DS Sustainable Design Award.

Naomi’s third year at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) was concerned with form-finding and social engagement, through two key projects; Material Explorations and Material Tectonics. The sites she looked at were incredibly geographically diverse, Chile’s Atacama Desert and Leith, Edinburgh. However, she investigated processes which addressed concerns for people and everyday rituals in both sites.

""The real thrill came this year in working with a site close to home and in developing a response to the pressing, very real issue of accessible and affordable living in Edinburgh.""

Naomi Rubbra

Having been recognised for her efforts, Naomi talked about the inspirations for her winning work.

“Any architecture project at University is a rare opportunity to explore and expand on issues you yourself find valuable. The real thrill came this year in working with a site close to home and in developing a response to the pressing, very real issue of accessible and affordable living in Edinburgh.”     

Naomi used a variety of methods to research her sites, in relation to her Edinburgh project she recalled some of those processes; “from photography, film and drafting, to live interventions on site with the help of a friend and GoPro! This evaluation formed the foundation of both proposals. In the case of Leith, my experiences fed into developing a catalogue of affordable living units – the compilation of which sought to repair the fractured interface of post and new industry along Leith Walk.”

Research for architecture project
Image courtesy of Naomi Rubbra
Naomi's project sites were Leith, Edinburgh and Chile's Atacama Desert

Undergraduate architecture students at ESALA complete a year of industry work within their degree. 2016 saw Naomi spend six months in Copenhagen working for Svendborg Architects and six months in New York working for Studio Gang Architects.

Naomi described the impact this year of industry experience had on her work:

“This experience fed heavily into my approach to the social aspect of my project this semester - particularly witnessing the controversial consequences of gentrification in NYC on inner city neighbourhoods - bringing the role of the architect as developer into question.”

The judges comments for both awards express how broadly and insightfully Naomi has tackled her subjects. On the Best 3rd Year Student Award:

“In her project she clearly engaged community and thought about diversity of community. She addresses an impressive breadth of concern, including a lot of detail and created a solution with an intelligent design.”

And on the Sustainable Design Award:

“Great adaptation, creative and socially engaged with a sustainable palette, reusing existing fabric.”

Naomi explained the unique benefit these particular awards hold for architecture students, and the industry in general:

“The awards were an opportunity to explore my ideas on a national platform alongside students designing in, and for, different conditions to my own.

The A&DS Sustainability Award highlighted the key premise of my scheme - adaptability - both in a structural and social sense.

I am excited for the future of our cities, and believe the A&DS awards promoted a depth of forethought for the urban realm. The work undertaken has given me a platform from which to continue to develop and experience how best the role of the architect might act as a social convenor - as we look forwards to include everybody in city life.”


In September Naomi will begin her Masters studies in London, at The Bartlett School of Architecture.


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