2021 Archiboo Awards: highlighting storytelling in the architecture industry

The 2021 Archiboo Awards have been announced, including the inaugural Activism Award in architecture, scooped by Amy Francis-Smith

2021 archiboo awards logos
(Image credit: Archiboo Awards)

The winners of the 2021 Archiboo Awards, which recognise architects’ and consultants’ use of the digital space, have just been announced. The industry awards were established six years ago to highlight ‘inspirational design, great storytelling, excellent user experience and the clever use of social media as part of the mix’. This year, they included an inaugural prize for activism in architecture, rewarding architecture and design activism and campaigning to help promote change for a better world.

Spanning podcast and talk events (such as Open City’s podcast The Londown, and the Negroni Talks series, hosted by Fourth Space, that moved from a physical event to a digital one during the pandemic lockdowns in London), and Tarek Merlin’s engaging new film series on architecture, Behind Closed Doors, the range of winners is exciting. It also showcases the architecture scene's ongoing inventiveness and desire to debate, explore and communicate, despite the difficult circumstances of the past 18 months.

2021 Archiboo Awards winners in 12 categories are:

  • Office S&M for Best Visual Design (website by Polimekanos)
  • Fourth Space for Best Online Experience
  • Tarek Merlin for Best Use of Social Media
  • dRMM (website by Rabbit Hole) for Best Overall
  • dn&co for Alan Davidson Award for Storytelling
  • Spacemaker for Best Consultants
  • Amy Francis-Smith for Activism Award
  • The Londown for Best Podcast
  • NOOMA Studio for Best Newcomer
  • Diamond Schmitt for Best Use of Video
  • Arney Fender Katsalidis for Best Written Content
  • AWW (website by Ten4 Design) for Best User Experience 

2021 Archiboo Awards highlight: Activism Award winner, Amy Francis-Smith

architect and activist Amy Francis smith talks to the crowd

(Image credit: Archiboo Awards)

Supported by Feilden Clegg Bradley and Wallpaper*, the Activism Award is a new category for the Archiboo Awards, designed specifically to address timely issues in the architecture field and a rise in campaigning for social awareness among architects and architecture professionals. In a year that has been unusual and challenging for most, architecture found ways to communicate key issues and persevere in striving for a better future – not only for the industry itself, but the wider world. 

‘The winner, Amy Francis-Smith, was selected because she is speaking up for disabled people and the discrimination many of them face within the current housing market. Her particular brand of activism is aimed at creating a more accessible future through legislation,’ write the organisers, following a rigorous jury session that decided on the dynamic architect's win. 

‘Architects are turning towards digital technology not just to promote their work but to think and talk about themselves differently,' says Archiboo founder Amanda Baillieu, reflecting on this year’s winners. ‘There’s more personality on show and a willingness to experiment with different content platforms whether that’s short videos on TikTok, podcasts, or taking people on virtual tours of new buildings. But our winners are those who realise that unless content is inspiring and engaging people will simply switch off.'

The trophy

Archiboo Awards trophy

(Image credit: Very Own Studio)

All winners of the 2021 Archiboo Awards received a special trophy designed by Very Own Studio. Conceived around two interlocking letter ‘A' forms, the piece is both beautiful and sustainable. The sculptural objects were manufactured by Standard8 using 15mm aluminium plate off-cut, which was left over from another job. To add style and refinement, the parts were carefully CNC-machined, hand-finished, anodised and laser-etched with the Archiboo Awards logo. 

‘We wanted to create something simple, architectural and well made, reusing surplus material, but transforming it into something that recipients would really value,' says Very Own Studio creative director Mark Ferguson. ‘We love the fact that the award utilises the two ‘A’s, but it also has the appearance of a cursor arrow, which links nicely with the online focus of the awards.'


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).