Cass architecture student receives RIBA president’s commendation for dissertation

Marie Henriette's dissertation ‘The Whole-body Seer: Blindness as Narrative, Subject and a Way of Seeing’ challenges the industry to think about things from a new perspective.

Date: 18 January 2019

Architecture BA (Hons) student Marie-Henriette Desmourès has been awarded a commendation in the Dissertation Medal category at the 2018 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) President’s Medals awards ceremony.

Marie-Henriette’s dissertation, entitled for ‘The Whole-body Seer: Blindness as Narrative, Subject and a Way of Seeing’, explored blindness in relation to the elements of scale, language, format and curiosity as both a subject of interest and narratives of perception, change and loss. Sequentially from a distanced viewpoint to interpretations of different darknesses.

Established in 1836, the President’s medals are RIBA’s oldest awards. This year’s competition had the highest number of entries in its history with 328 design projects and dissertations were submitted by 101 schools of architecture located in 37 countries.

Andy Stone, Head of the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design said: “I am delighted that Marie-Henriette’s work has been recognised at the RIBA President's medals.

“The Cass prides itself on the importance of writing and research as a key component of creative practice. Marie-Henriette’s work makes an important contribution because it invites us to consider some key existential issues from a completely new perspective. As the judges commented, to achieve such quality at undergraduate level is outstanding. She and her tutor Ektoras Arkomanis should be very proud."

The 2018 RIBA President’s Medals exhibition is at the RIBA in London from 5 December 2018 to 15 February 2019, before it tours throughout the UK and internationally.

RIBA President Ben Derbyshire said: “The breadth and scale of talent evidenced in the design proposals and writings produced by this year’s winners is truly remarkable. This is an emerging generation of skilled thinkers who are able to distil complex ideas and resolve them into sophisticated architectural proposals. They are all talents to watch.”

Marie-Henriette with Dr Harriet Harriss (Chair of the Dissertation Medal judging panel) and RIBA President, Ben Derbyshire ‘courtesy of RIBA’.