At the A&DS and RIAS Student Awards for Architecture 2021, Rachel Dunne was awarded both the Architecture and Design Scotland Sustainable Design Award and Architecture and Design Scotland Sustainable Design Award. We interviewed her to discuss her winning project "Paradise Pomegranate: walls, wells & selling" and her plans for the future.
Tell us a little about yourself
I grew up in Edinburgh and graduated this summer from the Master’s programme after six years at ESALA and an eight-month period working in Berlin. After a couple of months to recharge over the summer, I moved down to London to start working at Hawkins\Brown.
About your project
I studied Ahmedabad and developed this thesis over the two years of my Master’s degree which gave me an opportunity to engage deeply with the themes. At the start of the programme, I worked alongside Lily Gonlag and De Rui Lee and we began conceptually from explorations and drawings of pomegranate fruits – sometimes at a 5:1 scale – from which emerged an architectural language of skins, seeds, membranes & flesh.
In January 2020 we were lucky enough to visit India for three weeks which was invaluable – the vividness, colourfulness, and density of the city can only be experienced fully in person. The topics took on a new pertinence in January this year with the announcement of new agricultural laws in India and the Farmers Strikes.
The thesis mediates between three main themes: reconstructing the deteriorating historical city walls and stepwells; hypothesising how a centralised fruit network could enrich the social and economic lives of the city, and to build in a way that was both of the place and adaptable to how it might grow.
Our studio encouraged us to approach design sensitively and develop sustainable methodologies through considering architecture as a complex interaction of people, climate, history, and place.
Studying during lockdown
Studying under lockdown was a huge shift from our normal methods of working in the studio and I think our whole studio missed the in-person collaboration and discussion. On the one hand, everything became digital, but I found myself subconsciously combatting this with more hand models and hand drawing that I had done in previous years as an escape from the screen. However, the new method of working also developed new skills - film making, interactive drawings, and virtual exhibitions.
Studying architecture in Scotland
I loved studying architecture in Scotland - albeit rose-tinted glasses have already started to blur all the hard work! I feel like there is a really strong sense of community and identity in Scottish architecture and the way that we built is sensitive to the environment that we live in.
I feel lucky to work in a profession where the skills we have and the work we do really have an impact to positively influence people who interact with the buildings.
Further information on other awards and the annual Andy MacMillian Lecture
- The Last Straw: A Case for Reuse. Ratho Community Centre - Gergana Negovanska (Student Awards 2021 in Focus)
- The Cloud Cooperative - Tiia Partanen (Student Awards 2021 in Focus)
- The full results of this years A&DS and RIAS Architecture Awards are available here.
- As part of our annual student awards for architecture we host the Andy MacMillan Memorial Lecture. In 2021 this was given by Dr Jos Boys. You can watch it again here.