The RIBA President's Medals Student Awards

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Serjeant Award -
The design thesis, the portable city of New Malacovia, is the blueprint for a perpetually sustainable culture and an environmentally responsible city. Inspired by the narrative text of the lost Malacovian city from “The Dictionary of Imaginary Places”, the research followed the emigration of the city’s leader, a Nogai prince (and inventor) and his people during the Crimean War to a new settlement in the Danube River delta. The project extrapolates the inventions and urban ideas of the old city into programmatic, tectonic and environmental concerns for New Malacovia.

Born in Crimea, an island of rich pastures, the prince spent his youth in St. Petersburg. As a consequence, New Malacovia is a hybrid of rural and urban landscapes, acquiring distinct characteristics from both places. The city of New Malacovia is a vast prairie of windows, which mimic a flattened version of the main boulevard in St. Petersburg. The New Nevsky Avenue stretches to infinity in the river valley.

An intelligent recycling process selects appropriate urban and spatial ideas; environmental technologies and construction methodologies collectively evolve into the tectonic character of the city over time. Familiar everyday materials are used to perform unfamiliar architectural and urban tasks. The windows are the custodians of the city’s power, while the humble potatoes are used to harvest renewable energies. Pixel blankets of iron foil suspended on fine vertical sewing pins camouflage the New Malacovia. The city bed, a matrix of bottle corks, buoyantly synchronises with the Danube River, which in turn takes the weight of the entire city. The Malacovian community occupies the void created between the fake pixel-river and the real river.

The translation of old Malacovia into a new micro scale city explores the delights and efficiency of sustainable architecture and urban design. The new city aims to preserve the very essence of an extinct civilization and questions the portability of one’s ethnicity in today’s society. New Malacovia is the metaphor and inspiration for our future sustainable cities.

Pascal Bronner


The research introduces a Nogai prince with his compatriots, settling in the Danube Delta, where they would rebuild their lost fatherland – New Malacovia. Malacovian settlements can be found across the world. They make their cities seamlessly invisible within our cities, they power their cities with potatoes, and occasionally a clue to the Malacovians existence is found within our familiar landscapes. The narrative shows us their furniture, the spaces of their cities, their customs and their stylistic concerns. New Malacovia is a vast prairie of windows with lyrical roots carrying heat and renewable energies to infinite pockets within the city. Legislated urban tectonic elements for New Malacovia include bottle corks, sewing pins, potatoes, and blankets of iron foil pixels. “Post-it” notes communicates the community’s ideas for living: planning and design of the city are delivered by all, no longer the exclusive. As the narrative unfolds the last “reveal” we suddenly become aware that the model we are looking at is not a model at all – it is the city.

The “Endless Laboratory” is a new blueprint for an intelligent 21st Century city, embracing new paradigms of program, form and sociological interaction. Employing a charming and poetic narrative, the project strategically navigates us through an encyclopedia of user-friendly ideas for sustainable architecture and eco-planning. The key mechanism for the city’s long-term strategy is its self-sustaining principles; it promotes innovative methods to recycle spatial ideas, tradition and materials; harness renewable energies, and minimizes the use of non-renewable resources. The city integrates ideas of education, agricultural and, whilst allowing space for collective social sustainability. The humble potato is an ingenious urban element for promoting technology that protects the environment, preserves culinary traditions and fosters a spirit of a neighborly co-existence.

The project is an exemplary demonstration of innovative research, strategic design thinking and working methodologies; and a sophisticated witty proposition that will revolutionize the way we think about sustainable urban living.

Mr C J Lim
Mr Bernd Felsinger
Ms Elizabeth Dow
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