Architecture student’s essay claims international Berkeley prize

Sophia BannertA Lincoln student is celebrating international acclaim after winning the 2013 Berkeley Prize Essay Competition, awarded by the University of Berkeley in California.

Sophia Bannert, who is a third year Architecture student at the University of Lincoln, was named as a winner in the Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Design Excellence after submitting her essay. It was selected by judges out of 152 student entries from 26 different countries.

The international competition was established in 1998 by the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design, to promote the investigation of architecture as a social art.

Each year the Essay Competition focuses on a topic important to the understanding of the interaction between people and the built world. This year, undergraduate students around the world wrote on ‘The Architect and the Accessible City’, with Sophia’s winning essay entitled ‘A Day in the Life of a Wheelchair User:  Navigating Lincoln’.

Her innovative study explores the challenges faced by wheelchair users navigating around historical cities such as Lincoln.

Sophia said: “I am honoured to have won first prize in this prestigious competition, and I intend to pursue this topic further in my future career. There is a real need for architects and designers to address the problems of rapid and unplanned urbanisation and increased longevity.

“Architecture is an inherently social art and the changing social structures of our communities need to be reflected in our built environment. We need to cherish differences; not discriminate against them. “

Sophia is currently writing another paper on the topic with her tutor Dr Amira Elnokaly, Senior Lecturer at the University of Lincoln’s School of Architecture, which will be published by the Royal College of Art and presented at the international Include Asia 2013 conference in Hong Kong later this year.

Dr Elnokaly said: “At the Lincoln School of Architecture we are absolutely delighted with Sophia’s achievement. It is a fantastic accolade, and international competitions such as this enable our students to display their wide range of talents. They provide great opportunities for the students to explore new themes, and our presentation on inclusive design at the Include Asia 2013 conference will be another valuable experience for Sophia.”

For more information and to read Sophia’s essay on accessible architecture in Lincoln, visit:

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