The CDUK Award for Architecture at The Royal Academy of Arts has been awarded to Webb Yates Engineers and The Stonemasonry Company’s Equanimity. Following consultation, the judging committee awarded the £5,000 prize to the work that best demonstrates the capacity of architecture to signal hope, selecting the entry for illustrating the structural potential of materials with minimal embodied carbon.
Niall McLaughlin RA, Chair of Judges, said:
“Equanimity by Webb Yates appeals on conceptual, figurative, tectonic, and emotional levels. It has a beautiful Leonardo da Vinci quality and shows you can do something sophisticated with a material that’s been around for years. It directly addresses the curators’ theme, and it has a powerful presence in the space. I have rarely been made so aware of the structural miracle of holding tonnes of stone high up in the air. These engineers and masons are designers who can rival any architect.”
Intended to promote the use of both stone and timber as natural, low embodied carbon materials, Equanimity has an embodied carbon of just 0.25t – almost 90% less than if it were built using standard construction methods. The stone beam is designed to challenge perceptions of stone and timber as largely decorative and demonstrates the structural integrity that is achievable. Equanimity’s stone beam hangs overhead, daring people to stand underneath, whilst the stone supported by wood (rather than vice versa) emphasises the significant load supported by timber, and the beam balancing on the trestle represents the importance of living in balance with nature.
Steve Webb, Director, Webb Yates Engineers, said:
We were delighted to be invited to exhibit our piece at the RA and even more delighted to get this award. I love how it sits with Marina Tabassum’s flood shelter. Both are stilted, triangulated structures. One pointing up: one pointing down. While we continue to believe that we can limit climate change by using low energy materials, she deals with today’s reality, lifting desperate people out of the flood waters. The conception of the beam was a combination of engineering design and craft knowledge. Allowing the pragmatic and the scientific to rule in the design is what has led us to make such a rarified and arresting object with a real prospect for the future. Thanks to the curators, the RA and of course The Stonemasonry Company, Albion Stone, Artisteel and Xylotek for making it possible.
CDUK is proudly supporting the Royal Academy of Arts 2022 Architecture Programme. Andy Noble, Managing Director at CDUK, said:
“This is the first year that CDUK is supporting the RA Award for Architecture and awarding the prize to Webb Yates’ stone beam seemed the natural choice. Equanimity can’t fail to capture people’s attention upon entering the Summer Exhibition’s Architecture room. The piece brilliantly reveals the architectural feats that are possible using often overlooked materials and captures the necessity of moving beyond traditional material choices to minimise environmental impact. Equanimity is an illustration of the future that creative design and material choices can deliver.”
Summer Exhibition 2022 will remain open to the public until 21 August 2022.
Main image credit: Installation view of the Equanimity display at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (21 June – 21 August 2022). Photo: Agnese Sanvito