Welcome to our first Academic Annual. This is the AR’s largest adventure in publishing formats for a decade: our inaugural digital edition. We hope you find it a fluid, three-dimensional and immersive experience. It felt completely right to use the Global Architecture Graduate Awards as the vehicle for this online experiment. Students have always been at the forefront of pushing boundaries; so we wanted to push the boundaries of how we communicated their work.
The Academic Annual not only includes the GAGAs − which were set up two years ago to identify the finest graduating architecture projects − but has expanded to include a research section, edited by Matthew Barac. Broadening our horizons beyond the design speculations taking place in schools, we wanted to recognise the transformation in how academics and practitioners alike are now contributing to disciplinary knowledge through their investigations into architectural, spatial and urban issues. We’ve selected seven papers from refereed journals and sought perspectives from three very different academic milieus.
This year, the GAGAs received nearly 700 entries, representing every continent (except, sadly, Antarctica). Judged by a panel of pedagogical experts and innovators − Sam Jacob, Deborah Saunt, Alexandra Stara and the legendary Elia Zenghelis − this year’s jury chose to premiate a dozen design projects in total. We were very impressed by the range of design approaches, graphic languages and spatial explorations on display, and the sheer tenacity demonstrated through the submissions.
However − controversially perhaps − the jury awarded a winner in only the undergraduate category. At postgraduate level, there are three runners-up (rather than three joint winners), as it was collectively felt that none of the trio − though highly accomplished − quite pulled ahead into pole position. This is in no way meant to diminish the huge achievement of these graduates, which we all admired greatly. But to act as a provocation for next year: what is a thesis project for and what new ground can it break? Where should architecture be heading?
Students have always been at the forefront of pushing boundaries; so we wanted to push the boundaries of how we communicated their work.