The Harvard Graduate School of Design has announced three shortlisted architects for the 2020 Wheelwright Prize. Now in its eighth cycle, the Wheelwright Prize supports innovative design research, crossing both cultural and architectural boundaries, with a $100,000 grant intended to support two years of study. Previous winners have presented diverse research proposals, including studies of kitchen typologies around the world; the architecture and culture of greenhouses; and material flows and techniques as used in the design and construction of film sets.
The 2020 Wheelwright Prize drew 168 applicants from over 45 countries. A first-phase jury deliberation was conducted in early March; a winner will be selected in late April.
Wheelwright Prize finalists traditionally present their work and proposal to an audience and panel of jurors at Harvard GSD, with a winner named in April. However, given the unprecedented global context created by the COVID-19 crisis, the 2020 Wheelwright Prize cycle is being conducted almost entirely via digital means. The first phase of jury deliberations was conducted via Zoom teleconferencing in early March, and finalist presentations will be conducted similarly throughout April. Such focus on digitally grounded dialogue mirrors similar efforts being applied across Harvard GSD and the field of architecture, as architects and designers confront a new landscape for practice and teaching.
This year’s jury includes 2016 Wheelwright Prize Winner Anna Puigjaner; Harvard GSD’s Dean and Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture, Sarah M. Whiting; Harvard GSD’s Chair of the Department of Architecture, Mark Lee; Harvard GSD Assistant Professor of Architecture Megan Panzano; British architect Tom Emerson; and Belgian architect Wonne Ickx.
2020 Wheelwright Prize Finalists
The three finalists for the 2020 Wheelwright Prize, and their proposals, are:
Since 2015 Cooking Sections have worked on multiple iterations of the long-term site-specific CLIMAVORE project, exploring how to eat as humans change climates. In 2016 they opened The Empire Remains Shop, a platform to critically speculate on the implications of selling the remains of Empire today. The eponymous book about the project was published by Columbia Books on Architecture and the City in 2018. Cooking Sections was part of the exhibition at the U.S. Pavilion in the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. Their work has also been exhibited widely; upcoming solo exhibitions will take place at Tate Britain and SALT Istanbul, as well as a new commission for P.5 New Orleans Triennial.
In 2019, Cooking Sections won the Future Generation Special Art Prize and were shortlisted for the Visible Award for socially-engaged practices. Cooking Sections currently lead a studio unit investigating critical questions around refuse and the metabolization of the built environment at the School of Architecture, Royal College of Art, London.
With proposal Being Shellfish: The Architecture of Intertidal Cohabitation, Fernández Pascual posits that, as awareness about the environmental footprint of construction increases, the intertidal zone can offer more responsive ways to inhabit the planet and provide regenerative materials. Seaweeds and shellfish are key sources of nutrients and have been used in construction over millennia, he observes. By looking at waste shells and seaweed material cultures in Chile, Taiwan, China, Turkey, Japan, Zanzibar, Denmark, and New Zealand, “Being Shellfish” continues Fernández Pascual’s ongoing investigation on ecosocial coastal innovations on the intertidal zone.
Bryony Roberts is an architectural designer and scholar. Her practice Bryony Roberts Studio, based in New York, integrates methods from architecture, art, and preservation to address complex social conditions and urban change. The practice has been awarded the Architectural League Prize and New Practices New York from AIA New York as well as support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Graham Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the American Academy in Rome, where Roberts was awarded the Rome Prize for 2015-2016. In tandem with her design practice, Roberts instigates research and publication projects about designing in response to social and cultural histories. She guest-edited the recent volume Log 48: Expanding Modes of Practice, edited the book Tabula Plena: Forms of Urban Preservation published by Lars Müller Publishers, and co-guest-edited Log 31: New Ancients. She has also published her research in Harvard Design Magazine, Praxis, Future Anterior, and Architectural Record.
Roberts earned her Bachelor of Arts at Yale University and her Master of Architecture at the Princeton School of Architecture, where she was awarded the Suzanne Kolarik Underwood Thesis Prize and the Henry Adams AIA Medal. She teaches architecture and preservation at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in New York.
With The Architecture of Childcare: A Global Study of Experimental Models, Roberts proposes an analysis of experimental models of care that hybridize programs to improve conditions for children, families, and care workers: childcare plus housing, childcare plus workplace, and childcare plus landscape. Comparing projects in Scandinavia, the UK, the US, Japan, and Southeast Asia through analytical drawings and contextual research, Roberts seeks to yield a global catalogue of new typologies.
Eyeing intersections between culture, nature, and economics, especially amid ongoing climate change, Utrabo proposes an investigation into merging nature and culture through matter. With Rethinking Nature, Assembling Matter, he seeks an understanding of how wood, from its natural, raw status to its final use in architecture, can be used as a primordial resource to compose a cultural manifestation.