Since 2006, the RIBA President's Medal for Research competition has distinguished top-notch architectural research projects by students, academics, and practitioners around the world. Just tonight, the Institute revealed the winners for 2019, who responded to the annual theme of Building in Quality.

The grand prize, the President's Medal for Research, went to Dr. Tania Sengupta from the Bartlett School of Architecture for the project, “Papered Spaces: Clerical Practices, Materialities and Spatial Cultures of Provincial Governance in Bengal, Colonial India, 1820s-1860s”. Some of the themes Dr. Sengupta’s research covers include the localization of global culture, and South Asian architecture and urbanism. Her project also won the category award in History and Theory. 12


  • 1. Project excerpt from the author: “This research focuses on the architecture, spaces and material culture associated with colonial paper bureaucracy in Bengal. It argues that the paper-based and writing-oriented habitus of colonial administration also mandated a chain of related materialities and spatialities – from paper records to specific types of furniture, spaces and architectures of colonial governance. Focusing on the colonial cutcherry [office] complex that formed the nerve-centre of zilla sadar [provincial administrative] towns of Bengal, I look here at the roles, spatial relationships and design developments of such ‘papered spaces’ as record rooms and clerical offices.”
  • 2. Commenting on Papered Space, jury chair Dr Banka Dimitrijevic commented: “This in-depth study expands the scope of research on British colonial architecture in India by focusing on the typology of administrative buildings which housed thousands of paper files containing information related to the revenue collection in Bengal in 1820s-1860s. The analysis of layouts of several administrative offices (surveyed by the author) and various secondary sources are successfully used to depict the everyday life of the workers and their interactions with the population and suppliers. Dr. Sengupta’s research findings significantly contribute to a better understanding of how the paper-based revenue collection system influenced the architecture that served it.”