William Chan and Rob Asher reimagine the NSW Architects Registration Board’s Architects Medallion

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Young emerging designers William Chan and Rob Asher from our Sydney studio have produced the winning concept for a new Architects Medallion.

The competition was organised by the NSW Architects Registration Board. Since 1924, the prestigious medallion has been awarded annually by the Board to the most outstanding graduate from a NSW school of architecture.

Created from 3D-printed brass with an automated design, the Architects Medallion has been reinvented to showcase a more forward-looking culture in architectural practice through the cross-pollination of disciplines, disruptions and discoveries.

Referencing the original version, the new medallion preserves the circular form and English/Latin inscription including the historic text ‘To you from failing hands we throw the torch be yours to hold it high’. The design appropriates these typographic elements to create a delicate play of solids and voids. It includes the recipient’s name, university and year as the prominent feature of the medallion’s physical structure and design.

In explaining the rationale behind his design, William said, “Like most traditional medals, every Architects Medallion previously awarded used the same template – it also wasn’t engraved in any way. So in developing the next rendition of this medallion, I wanted to ensure that the most important details, the recipient’s identity, were celebrated as an integral part of the three-dimensional form. This was achieved by harnessing the latest digital technologies.”

Through additive manufacturing and mass customisation, the medallion will be crafted to be as bespoke and contextualised as the built environment that architects design. A coded computer script automatically generates the geometric composition to ensure the design’s coherence and structural integrity.

“The script converts an arbitrary string of text into a geometry and then adjusts the scale and distribution of the letters in relation to the whole medallion. Because the personalised information will vary every year, each arrangement is different,” said Rob, who is a lead computational designer at Cox.

In making its decision, the Board noted that the current design has lasted for almost 100 years, and hopes the new medallion will enjoy a similarly sustained life.

“This new design allows the NSW Architects Registration Board to refresh the relevance of the Medallion by combining its long tradition, with the latest in computational design and fabrication. This ensures legibility and printability of the medallion, each individualised for the recipients. The outcome is a richly complex, beautiful medallion,” the Board’s president Deborah Dearing remarked.

Both William and Rob contribute as leaders to the wider industrial design and computational design industries. As the World Design Organization’s Young Designer for Australia, William is involved in the peak international body for industrial design, representing the next generation of product, service and experience designers.

Rob is a course convenor for the computational design program at UNSW, where he is leading the development of the award-winning ‘Urban Pinboard’ digital platform for smart cities in partnership with the Urban Development Institute of Australia.

The production of the new Architects Medallion and its accompanying presentation case will be completed by late March 2018.