Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 Spatial Practices Prizes for their innovative and inspiring Narrative Environments projects!
Cultural Equity Award – Sixto Juan Zavala
The Cultural Equity Award goes to MA Narrative Environments graduating student Sixto Juan Zavala for his project Queer Botany, a tour with a series of outdoor interpretive displays that tell stories about plants from marginalised perspectives. The focus is on such site-specific wild plants as the dog rose, horse chestnut, coppiced willow and yellow flag. Participants can either learn about them on the project website, find the displays on their own, or be part of a guided tour at the Walthamstow Marshes, northeast London.
The primary audience is the 18–30-year-old east London LGBTQ+ community, interested in environmental issues. The project emerges from the theoretical lens of queer ecology, which brings together queer theory and eco-criticism. A queer ecological perspective can help displace the dualities that are perceived to exist in culture and nature, preferring instead to insist on multiplicity and diversity.
The aims are to share marginalised perspectives, support more diverse representations about the environment and outdoors and affirm connections between queerness and nature.
Sixto Juan Zavala (he/him) has a BFA in Communications Design, University of Texas. He has worked in retail, museums and the arts. He is interested in culture, marginalised groups and the environment. He has been published in Graphis Poster Annual 2019, Plant Kingdom: Design with Plant Aesthetics and other publications.
Climate Care Award for Spatial Practices – Sowmini Suresh
Sowmini Suresh’s Climate Care Award winning project 2° Café is a three part spatial and virtual intervention that takes place beside the Princess of Wales Conservatory at the Kew Gardens, Richmond. The visitor walks through a calendar built in the form of three places: the blossoms, the berries and the bean. With the assistance of virtual navigation, the visitors discover how climate change is impacting the coffee industry at all of its stages, from growing, through production to consumption.
The project proposes a collaboration among Kew Gardens itself, Kaffe Form, a sustainable coffee cup manufacturer, and Union Hand, a coffee brand. In part, the aim is to highlight the role of Kew Gardens in promoting efforts to address climate change. More specifically, coffee is used as a vehicle to explain, particularly to those individuals who think that climate change will not affect them personally, how climate change will affect each of us in our daily lives.
As well as winning the Spatial Practices Climate Care award, this project was selected for the Maison/0 Green Trail Shortlist.
Sowmini Suresh is a multi-disciplinary designer with a background in Architecure, Narrative Environments and Sustainable Interior Design. She has lived and studied in Bengaluru, New York and London.
Her design approach is environmentally conscious, centred around wellbeing and creating memorable experiences.
Sowmini Suresh is a multi-disciplinary designer with a background in Architecture, Narrative Environments and Sustainable Interior Design. She has lived and studied in Bengaluru, New York and London. Her design approach is environmentally conscious, centred around wellbeing and creating memorable experiences.
Spatial Practices Prize Award – Naoko Kawai
Awarded the Spatial Practices Prize, Naoko Kawai’s Toy House Project is a role-playing workshop where parents and children become Architects to design and build houses for their imaginary clients.
The project aims to encourage children to learn about other lifestyles via play with props in a range of imaginative settings and bring parents’ attention to the importance of introducing toys that foster appreciation of various cultures.
The children are invited to build toy houses that are designed based on iconic residential architecture from around the world; EdifícioCopan (Brazil), Tokyo Apartment (Japan) and Collage House (India), to explore the diversity of the house designs and lifestyles beyond those familiar to them.
The project will be presented at the London Festival of Architecture on 30 June 2021.
Naoko Kawai is a London and Tokyo based set designer and founder of her own brand CHATTERBOX. She has worked for ELLE Japan, building immersive sets for both editorial content and events Naoko has a BA in literature and has a passion for telling stories through playful spaces.
Head over to the MA Narrative Environments Digital Showcase to see the other fascinating projects produced by the graduating class of 2021.