NewsAll campuses

MArch student nominated for prestigious RIBA dissertation prize for research into comfort in the home

A student from our School of Architecture in Canterbury has been nominated for a prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) dissertation award for his research into different qualities that create comfort in the home.

Daniel Stilwell, who is in his final year of the Master of Architecture course and also completed BA (Hons) Architecture at UCA, is one of around 40 students from the UK and internationally to be nominated for the sought-after prize.

“For me, the most pressing and crucial thing is understanding the current paradigm that British housing is in. That is where design and research needs more exploration," Daniel says. “Currently, housing is unequal, oversold in places, and fast becoming a poisoned commodity of our society. The home shouldn't be subjected to such things. The problem with the generic house being built by developers, and many others, is that it just isn’t up to scratch in becoming a home for someone.”

Using 3D imaging to scan a series of spaces and rooms in a typical terraced house in Canterbury, Daniel was able to pick out key elements that signified comfort and personal space.

He continues: “The nuances and interior condition of the rooms, namely the wallpaper, was picked up. The interior had a history and it was in a transitional time in the building’s life. The building was changing owners, crucially from the original first owner to a set of new owners, who were of different ages and, most importantly, had different tastes. The wallpaper was a clarification of taste, of comfort and of personal space. The scanning was initially done as a way to digitally archive the transition from old to new. By scanning, the wallpaper was highlighted as a way to translate security and comfort in the home and to obtain a sense of familiarity and a sense of the welcoming in the everyday.

“In essence, the findings from the research paper, In Search of Well-tempered Environment(s), showed that to live comfortably and in 'well-tempered' environment(s), you don’t need to solely rely on obvious technological factors such as controlling the temperature, using air conditioning or whacking up the central heating in the winter. The home is a very evocative, visceral and personal space, different from one person to the next, from town, city and country, as well as culture and society. The research focused on exploring the interior condition of the home through relational qualities of space, material, philosophy, psychology, geography and history.”

Daniel, who is originally from Surrey, adds: “The home has largely been talked about through an economic, political and social lens, whereas my research looks at the more immaterial and emotional qualities the home and the interior has with its inhabitants. The research showed that by having these alternative views, in thinking and writing on domesticity, the conditions and locales of the everyday life and ultimately the home, can change. The research can be seen as a way to form a new understanding of what it means to be comfortable in architecture and ultimately in the home.”

The winner of the RIBA Dissertation Prize will be announced on Tuesday 6 December at a ceremony in Portland Place, London.

Daniel Stilwell MArch