The SOM Foundation is pleased to announce the winner of the 2021 European Research Prize. One team from the University of the Arts London, Central Saint Martins will receive a €20,000 prize to conduct original research that contributes to this year’s topic, “Envisioning Responsible Relationships with Materiality.” The European Research Prize was created in 2021 to cultivate new ideas and meaningful research that addresses the critical issues of our time.
Paloma Gormley and Summer Islam’s project, “Constructive Land,” proposes to examine the future of the British landscape in the context of the climate crisis. Our fertile landscape is constrained by pressures from farming, woodland, and housing, all of which need reimagining as we move into a postcarbon future. Their research looks at the potential of agroforestry to develop arable farming alongside productive woodland and explores what materials and building systems can be drawn from a new model of regenerative land management. The project will be developed in partnership with Forestry England and Material Cultures.
The inaugural jury was led by SOM Foundation Executive Director Iker Gil and included Marco Ferrari (Cofounder of Studio Folder, Milan), Kent Jackson (Partner of SOM, London and Secretary of the SOM Foundation), Tim Marlow (Chief Executive and Director of the Design Museum, London), Débora Mesa Molina (Principal of Ensamble Studio, Boston and Madrid), and Sumayya Vally (Founder and Principal of Counterspace, Johannesburg).
“This year’s topic invited applicants to address pressing questions regarding the material resources we use (abuse),” reflected Débora Mesa Molina. “It has been as invigorating to dive into the depth of the submitted proposals as difficult to select a winner amongst them. I am eager to see how the outcomes of this Prize can shed light on urgent topics, hopefully bridging the gap between research and practice.” Tim Marlow commented: “Constructed Land is an impressive mixture of practical and academic research. It is genuinely collaborative, bringing together three diverse partners to examine the possibilities of a new regenerative model for land management in the context of both the climate emergency and the housing crisis. I very much look forward to seeing the implementation of the project over the next year.”
Tim Marlow also commended “the establishment of the SOM Foundation European Research Prize.” “It has been a pleasure to judge the inaugural award in 2021 and based on the quality of submitted projects this year, I’m confident the Prize will begin to make a discernible impact on design research over the next few years.”
European Research Prize recipients are expected to collaborate with students, faculty, and leaders from various disciplines to pursue their research topics. They will be required to document their findings and develop suggestions for application to professional practice. The outcome of the research will be shared publicly on the SOM Foundation’s website as well as other mediums identified by the winning team.