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Architecture for a better community: students honoured by international awards

London, Dec 26: The recipients of these awards, Hannah Robertson  and Dr Milinda Pathiraja from the Melbourne School of Design, received  their awards in a London ceremony.

Hannah Robertson received the 2011 RIBA President’s Student  Dissertation Medal for her Master’s Dissertation, Bush Owner Builder.  Her winning project was judged alongside 47 dissertations coming from  9 countries.

For her thesis, Ms Robertson consulted with Indigenous Australians in  Queensland to create designs for housing, and then worked with the  community to construct the buildings. Ms Robertson said, “the project  aims to tackle some of the issues in Indigenous housing by providing  ownership: ownership of the design, building process and the eventual built outcome.”

Professor Philip Goad, the supervisor of Ms Robertson’s Master’s thesis said, “the RIBA President’s Dissertation Medal, one of the world’s most prestigious student awards, is fitting international recognition for Hannah’s outstanding and important collaboration with the indigenous community in Hope Vale, far north Queensland.”

“Her work demonstrates the excellent calibre of students within the Melbourne School of Design and this award demonstrates how detailed design research undertaken locally can have global significance,” said Professor Goad.

The Melbourne School of Design has a strong history of engagement with Indigenous communities and working in consultation with remote communities to design and deliver projects.

Dr Pathiraja’s award winning PhD was inspired by similar community oriented sentiments, and investigates the contribution architects can make to labour policy and supporting developing economies through construction projects. The award given to this dissertation by RIBA recognizes this issue as a significant area to change current practices to facilitate positive economic growth.

With both Ms Robertson and Dr Pathiraja featuring prominently in the Royal Institute of British Architects line up of awards London, architecture and design students at the University of Melbourne are among the leaders of the next generation of international built environment professionals.

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