RGU alumna wins Royal Scottish Academy Medal for Architecture

Wednesday 08 June 2022

Claire Milnes - RGU alumna - RSA Annual Exhibition - Courtyard elevation
An alumna from The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture (SSA) at Robert Gordon University (RGU) has won the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy Medal for Architecture.

Master of Architecture alumna, Claire Milnes, has won the RSA Medal in recognition of her outstanding Master's social housing project in Kirkwall, Orkney. 

The RSA Exhibition, now in its 196th year, provides a platform to showcase some of the country’s leading architects and also contemporary artists. The RSA Medal is for the best work by a young architect at the RSA Annual Exhibition.

Claire’s designs include a sheltered courtyard housing scheme set in beautiful, landscaped grounds. Her project offers affordable community housing, centred around 6 blocks of two and three bedroomed, flats each wrapped around an enclosed courtyard. 

The courtyards provide shelter from the strong Orcadian winds and include a garden for children to play and a communal space for people to meet.  The housing aims to be very community orientated with smaller flats located on the ground floor, where individuals, who may live on their own, would have direct access to the courtyard and more chance for social interaction. Larger family housing is situated above, with balconies overlooking this courtyard space. 

All the flats include a central space that allows for flexibility with different living situations. The designs also include a series of narrow pedestrian streets, sympathetic to the historic core of Kirkwall. 

Speaking about her success, Claire Milnes, who is a Part 2 Architectural Assistant at Reiach and Hall Architects in Aberdeen, said: “It’s a great honour to receive such a prestigious award from the Royal Scottish Academy and I am delighted they thought my work deserved this recognition.

“Architecture is a subject that requires you to develop a vast amount knowledge and a large skill set. Within The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture we work in studio environments alongside others, which offer an incredibly supportive and collaborative experience. The studio lecturers are incredibly encouraging and supportive. They always tried to bring out the best potential in everyone, which is incredibly important, especially in a subject that is by nature, very critical." 

Course leader from the Scott Sutherland Master of Architecture course, David Vila Domini, said: “It is wonderful that Claire has won the RSA medal. She has designed a thoughtful, and affordable housing scheme that includes co-living spaces that really foster social inclusion and complement the Orcadian environment. 

“I’m delighted to see a former student building on the skills and teaching learnt at The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment. As one of the oldest architecture schools in the UK, we have a strong social ethos that underpins everything we do and we strive hard to encourage our students to design and build sustainable, well-considered spaces that reflect society’s needs.”

Claire’s work formed part of her Master’s Project which she undertook as part of the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture’s Pomona framework in Orkney. The unit works with islanders to create sustainable living.

Claire graduated with a Master of Architecture in 2020. Since graduating she’s been working for Reiach and Hall Architects on a number of social housing developments. The design and research she undertook during her masters project has allowed her to go to into the workplace with a good knowledge of social housing design in the real world. At the moment, she is working towards her Part 3 qualification to gain the knowledge and experience to become an accredited Architect.

Find out more about The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment: 

Cookie Consent