School of Architecture, CUHK

MArch graduate Thomas Chee wins RIBA President’s Silver Medal 2016

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CUHK Architecture Graduate Recognised as Hong Kong’s first RIBA President’s Silver Medalist

Thomas Chee King-hei, a 2016 Master of Architecture graduate of the School of Architecture at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, has won this year’s RIBA President’s Silver Medal for his design project titled “Crafts Vault: The V&A Academy of Artisanal Crafts”.

The honour was announced at the President’s Medals ceremony at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London on the evening of December 6, where Chee was presented with the traditional hand-engraved silver medal from RIBA President Jane Duncan.

Chee is the first graduate from an architectural school in Hong Kong to have been awarded this prestigious prize from the RIBA in its 180 years’ history. His design project is the best out of 130 entries received by the RIBA this year, after its call for nominations was issued to 320 universities in 65 countries.

In regard to winning the medal, the emerging architect called it a “dream comes true”. “While it is an exceptional recognition of my work,” he said, “the award also helps bring architectural education in Hong Kong and China to a broader audience from around the world, which I think is fascinating.”

Chee’s award-winning project responds to the uncertain future of traditional crafts in the UK. Owing to the 2008 economic downturn and the rise of digital manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing, the living prospects for self-employed craftsmen who are less resilient to financial crises are gradually tightened. The proposal introduces crafts workshops to a new extension of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum specialising in art and design, promoting a new typology of museum building that makes artisanal skills relevant to the modern city again. Situated at a strategically chosen brownfield site in North Kensington left by a local gasworks, the proposed project serves not only as a museum of craft but also an archive of knowledge, as well as an academy for preserving and retrieving the lost art of craftsmanship.

The project was envisioned during Chee’s exchange at the University of Cambridge from September to December 2015, where he was tutored by Prof. Ingrid Schröder at the Department of Architecture. Its concept and design were further developed after he returned to CUHK to finish his Master of Architecture (MArch) thesis, supervised by Prof. Peter Ferretto at the School of Architecture.

“To win the RIBA President’s Silver Medal is an incredible milestone for Thomas and a proof to all students that belief and commitment foster excellence,” said Prof. Ferretto, who was impressed not only by Chee’s exceptional design skills, which enabled him to develop experimental, sophisticated projects, but also by his enthusiastic learning attitude. “I am very proud of Thomas who always came to the studio with the biggest smile, eager to discuss his latest design.”

Prior to his Master’s education, Chee completed his Bachelor of Social Science (BSSc) degree in Architectural Studies at CUHK in 2013. He is currently a designer at Gravity Partnership Limited.

About RIBA President’s Medals

The RIBA President’s Medals were established in 1836 and are the RIBA’s oldest awards. They reward talent, promote innovation, and encourage excellence in the study of architecture worldwide. Every year, the RIBA invites international architects, academics, designers and artists to join the judging panels and award the Bronze Medal for the best undergraduate design project, the Silver Medal for the best postgraduate design project, as well as the Dissertation Medal.

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