The Activism Award 2024 goes to Studio Bark, architecture’s passionate champions

Architecture’s Activism Award 2024 has been announced, crowning Studio Bark as the winner from a shortlist of six nominees

studio bark winners of the activism award 2024 for architecture
Part W's map 'Women's Work', shortlisted for the Activism Award 2024
(Image credit: Courtesy Part W)

The Activism Award 2024 has just been announced, crowning London-based Studio Bark as its overall winner, for the practice’s work in response to the climate crisis, and towards inclusivity in construction, and regenerative building processes. Argentine initiative The Colectivo de Arquitectas (CdA) from Buenos Aires, received a high commendation for its protest against the redevelopment of public land. 

The top gong was drawn from a six-strong shortlist of nominees chosen for their role in taking action and championing change in the field when it comes to key, current issues within the built environment. The annual accolade, which is organised by the digital architecture platform Archiboo and supported this year by Heatherwick Studio, recognises work covering topics such as the use of public land, safety on our streets, the climate emergency and gender and disability rights. 

studio bark

Studio Bark, winner of the Activism Award 2024

(Image credit: Courtesy Studio Bark)

Meet the Activism Award 2024 winners: Studio Bark

Set up by co-founders Wilf Meynell, Nick Newman and Steph Chadwick, Studio Bark has its base in east London, and is guided by a pledge to ‘create positive disruption, show compassion, take responsibility’. These are values the small team displays in spades and applies in their work daily – which caught the eye of the judges. 

Their projects span from housing to installations and office space, all imbued with the practice’s sustainable ethos and passionate advocacy. Called ‘Bark’, the studio uses its name as both a verb (‘speaking loudly’) and a noun (‘the protective life support system of trees’), they have explained. We caught up with them, to hear more about their thoughts on architecture activism and the award.

Wallpaper*: What motivates you to be an activist? 

Studio Bark: Architecture's ability to effect change is limited by the socio-economic context within which we practise. Activism helps us to change that context, which in turn magnifies the impact of our work.

W*: What does winning mean to you?

SB: We really love that an award for activism exists in the first place. Winning it helps us to improve our visibility in this area and connect with others interested in creating change. 

W*: Who inspires you? 

SB: Those who have sacrificed careers and personal freedoms for the belief in a better profession. In particular, to civil engineer Morgan Trowland, who was sentenced to three years in prison for a peaceful occupation of the QE2 bridge, London. 

Activism Award 2024: the shortlist

new practice

Shortlisted, New Practice

(Image credit: Courtesy New Practice)

This year's list cast a net far and wide across different missions and parts of the world. The rest of the nominees were:

  • Deaf Architecture Front (DAF), London, for acting to support the deaf community in architectural practice;
  • The Colectivo de Arquitectas (CdA), Buenos Aires, for its protest against the redevelopment of public land;
  • Part W, London, for championing women in the built environment;
  • New Practice, Glasgow, for its data gathering campaign for street safety in its home town;
  • Sarah Ackland, London, for its efforts towards gender equality;

Collectivo de Arquitectas

Highly commended, Collectivo de Arquitectas

(Image credit: Courtesy Collectivo de Arquitectas)

‘Colectivo de Arquitectas is a group of over 200 women architects who came together to oppose the Buenos Aires government selling the city's public land to developers,’ said Archiboo’s Amanda Baillieu of the group’s high commendation. ‘As an alternative, it proposes the land be used for a new city park. Judges felt the Colectivo shows what is possible when architects come together and apply their skills as urbanists, lobbyists and advocates.’ 

Sarah Ackland

Shortlisted, Sarah Ackland

(Image credit: Courtesy Sarah Ackland)

Bailleu added of Studio Bark: ‘We felt the winner is pushing at the very boundaries of what it means to be an activist and everything from its name and the rationale for its name through to the connections it's making with community groups and other campaigners takes activism in architecture to a different level.’

Deaf Architecture Front

Shortlisted, Deaf Architecture Front

(Image credit: Courtesy Deaf Architecture Front)

The winners were announced at a dedicated ceremony in London this evening (22 May 2024). Past Activism Award winners include Amy Francis-Smith in 2021, and Transition by Design in 2022.

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).