Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund 2017/18 winners announced

Azadeh Omidfar Sawyer (left) and Katie Corr (right) are this year's recipients of the Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund.

(UK) – Two students, from the University of Belfast and University of Michigan respectively, have been awarded the 2017/18 Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund.

The winners for the 2017/18 Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund have been announced.

Katie Corr of Queen’s University, Belfast and Azadeh Omidfar Sawyer, currently a student at the University of Michigan are the recipients of this year’s fund.

John Roake, Chairman of the JSSF commented: “This year the other Trustees of the Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund and I wanted to broaden our ability to assist potential scholars. The additional generous support we have received from our Benefactors, Sponsors and Contributors has allowed us once again to award two scholarships for the 2017-2018 academic year.”

Roake and the other trustees were impressed by the high standard of entries from a broad range of students, at all stages of their courses, from many schools of architecture.

He added: “Despite the extremely strong competition we are happy to choose one worthy student from Queen’s University Belfast: Katie Corr and another from the University of Michigan: Azadeh Omidfar Sawyer. Whilst they come from different approaches, both scholars have that ‘special something’ we are always looking to find in the way they expressed their passion for light and architecture coupled with a clear financial need.

“We therefore heartily congratulate Katie and Azadeh and their respective institutions on being awarded the JSSF scholarships this year and look forward to following their future development and career progress.”

Corr is currently a Masters student at Queen’s University, Belfast. Her passion lies in rediscovering the ‘alchemy of light’, a term she uses to describe a rich understanding of how light evokes mood and influences the experience of space – something she feels has been lost in our obsession over light levels and performance.

Her exploration has involved modelling a scene from an Ingmar Bergman film in an effort to deconstruct the lighting composition, distilling the relationships that produce the mies-en-scene and give the film such character. She has studied the work of James Turrell and Luis Barragán and the way in which they carefully control light and use it to manage the effect of a space on people. This work has then informed the design of a small concert hall, and a lamp to be used within it; both with a strong focus on the experience of light. Her final thesis concerns the design of a music school centred on light, landscape and views, sited on the north coast of Ireland where the light is grey and even.

Corr plans to use her scholarship to help with the costs of completing her Masters, and in particular to create the models necessary to portray her ideas of the project.

Omidfar Sawyer is a PhD student at the University of Michigan. She has a focus on architecture that is highly integrative in design and performance, and her studies focus on how we can improve our approach to daylighting design, to balance occupant comfort and interest with sustainability concerns.

Her Masters thesis was completed at Harvard University, using advanced modelling technologies such as computational fluid dynamics and a five-axis robotic arm and castings to create integrated ornamental façade designs that increase indoor daylighting.

Her techniques showed a 35 percent reduction in energy use compared to ASHRAE standards, and her paper won the Daniel L. Shodek Award for Technology and Sustainability at the GSD.

For her doctoral work,Omidfar Sawyer is exploring the relationship between the objective quantifiable characteristics of daylight and the occupant’s subjective visual impressions.

Omidfar Sawyer plans to use the scholarship to travel to visit the buildings she has modelled as part of her work, to gain further perspective in comparing the simulated results with the actual physical environments.