Student Award Reflections: Tell your narrative logically and clearly – Robert Hebblethwaite, winner in 2015

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In the lead up to The A&DS and RIAS Scottish Student Awards for Architecture 2017 we got in touch with previous years’ winners to see what they were up to now, and what difference winning the award had made to their architectural career to date.

In 2015 Robert Hebblethwaite, then a student at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture was awarded an A&DS Sustainable Design Award and received a commendation for the RIAS Rowand Anderson Silver Medal for best 5th year student, for his project The Churchill Engine, Orkney.

Where are you now and what are you currently working on?

I work for CZWG Architects LLP in London. The practice was formed in 1975 by four students from the Architectural Association and quickly became associated with quirky Post-Modernism. These days, CZWG specialises in large scale residential, but are also known for Canada Water Library and Maggie’s Nottingham. I am part of the team competing for a large residential regeneration project in London, and have also designed smaller apartment buildings in the capital. At construction stage, I have worked on Islington Square, the conversion of a Postal Sorting Office behind Upper Street, and a beach house in Dungeness.

How did you feel about winning a student award for architecture, and can you describe the winning project? 

It was a thrill to win the A&DS Sustainable Design Award and receive a commendation for the RIAS Silver Medal, and I’m still proud two years later. The Churchill Engine proposed the replacement of Churchill Barrier No 2 in the Orkneys with a tidal-electric barrage. High-energy industries, including data centres, salt producers (salinaries), a fish curing station and diving centre inhabit the barrier region. It uses an architecture of fins, façades, volumes, terraces and piers emerged, sculpting the topography and microclimate to create landform buildings.

What impact do you feel winning the award has had on your career?

The Churchill Engine highlighted the important contribution tidal-electric power will make to Scotland’s energy mix in the future, and proposed a new architectural expression for industrial leviathans within outstanding island landscapes. The award recognises the project had a powerful premise, given expression through imaginative architecture. Potential employers have been impressed by the accolade. In architectural practice, the award reminds me not to under-estimate the power of a concept.

Reflecting back – what advice would you give to the students entering this and coming years’ awards?

By now, you will have spent a year interrogating an architectural idea from the urban scale to the building detail. The narrative is fully formed – tell it logically and clearly. What is the message communicated by each drawing? This is about refining and representational technique. Good luck!



Image: Greatstone under construction (New Romney, Kent) Credit: CZWG Architects LLP & Robert Hebblethwaite 2017.

Main image (Detail) from Robert Hebblethwaite’s The Churchill Engine submission.

The A&DS and RIAS Scottish Student Awards for Architecture 2017 take place on 13 July 2017 at Café Camino, Edinburgh. Find out more and book your free tickets here.

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