DMU Architecture graduate awarded prestigious RIBA commendation

An architecture graduate’s vision for rejuvenating a small fishing community has beaten competition from hundreds of projects internationally, to win a prestigious commendation from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Alistair Wood graduated from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) with a First from Architecture MArch in July 2015, and was awarded a commendation in the RIBA President’s Medals silver category.


The award was for his extraordinary Lofoten Seasonal Fishery project, an in-depth exploration of the depleting fishing communities in the Lofoten islands. Alistair’s ambitious aim was to revitalise the community of Reine by providing the facilities for local fishermen to catch, process and sell their products, whilst re-engaging the local people with their cultural heritage.

To achieve this, Alistair designed a fishery that steps into the water, with accommodation for traveling fishermen soaring over the water’s edge, connecting with a marketplace and eatery where the fish is sold to the public.

The 25-year-old who beat competition from 340 projects across 65 countries, said: “Winning the award was an incredible achievement for me. It is very prestigious and highly respected worldwide so to be selected form the huge volume of projects submitted is unbelievable. The real reward was having my work published in the RIBA journal and Architecture journal.”


Alistair’s commendation helped him secure a job at Make, the award-winning international architectural practice founded by DMU Leicester School of Architecture (LSA) Alumnus, Ken Shuttleworth.

Although Alistair planned to take a break after graduating, he decided to send his CV to a few of his dream companies to test the waters, and was promptly snapped up by Make. He said: “I was lucky to find a job very easily after graduating, thanks to the grounding I gained at DMU. The structure of my master’s course was the perfect balance between creative design and preparing us for the professional life to come.”

“I had fantastic tutors who let me explore freely while giving me a kick when I needed it. They were a great blend of experienced architects and young tutors with a real flair for design.”

Alistair was also awarded the DMU LSA David Nesbitt prize for the top MArch graduate in June 2015. Ben Cowd, Head of Postgraduate Architecture at DMU’s LSA, said: “Alistair was an exceptional student whose extraordinary work is highly crafted. Influenced by traditional building methods and materials found on the Lofoten islands, he developed a contemporary architecture, highly original in its appearance and performance, that sat comfortably in its context, working for local people.

“Winning the prestigious RIBA commendation is an enormous achievement and a strong indication of our MArch graduates’ strength on the international stage. Many congratulations to Alistair and his tutor, Tim Barwell, for this wonderful project and major achievement.” 

Alistair has ambitious plans for the future, saying: “I’m planning to start my part three exams next year, which will allow me to become a fully qualified architect. I’m also hoping to go back to DMU to give a series of lectures about my project and professional life at Make.”

Posted on Wednesday 23rd December 2015

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