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The SOM Foundation’s inaugural European Research Prize winner is an examination of the British landscape during the climate crisis. News| News

The SOM Foundation’s inaugural European Research Prize winner is an examination of the British landscape during the climate crisis. News| News

Summer Islam and Paloma Gormley's “Constructive Land” was selected as the winning entry in the SOM Foundation's inaugural European Research Prize. Image: © Material Cultures


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Summer Islam and Paloma Gormley's “Constructive Land” was selected as the winning entry in the SOM Foundation's inaugural European Research Prize. Image: © Material Cultures

Summer Islam and Paloma Gormley’s “Constructive Land” was selected as the winning entry in the SOM Foundation’s inaugural European Research Prize. Image: © Material Cultures


The winner of this competition is SOM Foundation’s inaugural European Research Prize has been announced. A team of researchers from Central Saint Martins College, University of the Arts London will use the 20,000 Euro prize to conduct research that contributes to the Foundation’s theme for this year, “Envisioning Responsible Relationships with Materiality.”

The European Research Prize was established as an expansion of the US-based Research Prize program in 2021. This initiative is looking for innovative ideas and meaningful research to address the pressing issues of our times. This year’s topic tasked participants to explore our relationship with materials, of all scales, and the ways in which designers and researchers can form more sustainable, responsible, and ethical relationships with them and the communities they come from.

The winning project “Constructive Land,” led by Paloma Gormley and Summer Islam, examines the future of the British landscape in the context of the climate crisis. The country’s fertile landscape is constrained by the forces of farming, woodland, and housing, all of which must be reimagined to make way for a post-carbon future. Their research examines the potential of agroforestry for developing arable farming alongside productive forest and explores what materials can be drawn from a new system of regenerative landmanagement. 

The team will investigate and test new types of biobased materials drawn from conventionally “unproductive” woodland material. A group of 30 MArch students will also design and build a timber structure to host teaching and community engagement in the woods. Gormley, Islam and Material Cultures, the founding directors of both Forestry England and Material Cultures, will work together to develop the project. 

The jury was headed by the Executive Director of SOM Foundation Iker Gil and included Marco Ferrari (Cofounder of Studio Folder, Milan), Kent Jackson (Partner of SOM, London and Secretary of the SOM Foundation), Tim Marlow (Chief Executive and Director of the Design Museum, London), Débora Mesa Molina (Principal of Ensamble Studio, Boston and Madrid), and Sumayya Vally (Founder and Principal of Counterspace, Johannesburg).

“Constructed Land is an impressive mixture of practical and academic research,” said Marlow. “It is genuinely collaborative, bringing together three diverse partners to examine the possibilities of a new regenerative model for land management in the context of both the climate emergency and the housing crisis. I very much look forward to seeing the implementation of the project over the next year.”

Gormley, Islam, and other researchers are expected to work together. They will need to document their findings and make suggestions for professional practice.
















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