Our annual student issue brims with enthusiasm and urgent activism

(RE)-Activist: ‘Independent state or Fantasy Island’, concept graphic by University of Sheffield MArch students Balraj Sehmi and Ben Warren (detail)

The AJ Student Prize is testament to the talent and grit of the next generation of practitioners, says Emily Booth

What a time of endings and beginnings. A time in which it’s difficult not to feel awed by the span of change to which one long life – 96 years, perhaps – can bear witness.

Our shared history paves the way for our futures. And taking time to reflect and consider what comes next is always a worthwhile endeavour. In that spirit, we are privileged to highlight in this month’s issue many voices and experiences from those at the start of their careers. Many of these challenge perceived assumptions, offer exciting solutions and encourage us to see a bit more clearly.

Our annual student issue brims with enthusiasm and an urgent spirit of activism. The AJ Student Prize, now in its fifth year, is testament to the talent and grit of the next generation of practitioners and it is heartening that so many of the submitted projects put tackling the climate crisis at their core.


As deputy architecture editor Fran Williams, who has overseen this substantial project, puts it: ‘Learning about a diverse selection of sites makes for an interesting read. All are very different contextually, but are experiencing similar environmental, social and political threats.’

Also in this issue, Neal Shasore, head of the London School of Architecture, shares some radical approaches that offer a new take on architectural education. One stand-out concept is for a two-year built environment diploma which, he tells senior reporter Will Ing, would ‘not be narrowly focused on architecture as a descendant from the 19th century but instead on our dying planet, imminent ecological collapse and climate change’.

And in her Climate Champions podcast, sustainability editor Hattie Hartman interviews Scott McAulay, founder of the virtual Anthropocene Architecture School, who is advocating a curriculum which empowers students as changemakers.

Reforming, committed, talented – this is the future of the architecture profession, fit for these extraordinary times.

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