Writing prizes at the AA now extend across all the years from 1st year to the diploma school. The Dennis Sharp Prize in memory of the AA scholar and architect was the first of these prizes. And we are delighted and grateful that his partner Mrs Sharp continues to take an active role in the award of the prize. The AA has strengthened this innovation by providing prizes in the other years. The overall objective is to be able to hold an event in which shortlisted candidates can deliver a portion of their writing. At the moment, the writings come mostly in the form of essays which students have written during the year. But we are enthusiastic that students also submit writing they have done outside the curriculum and in non-traditional forms.
We emphasise the aspect of writing because we are strongly aware that if students are to have an interesting and satisfying career they will need to present their ideas in written form. Indeed, we think of writing as important as aspects of drawing. Architecture is produced as a consequence of communication and writing is the preeminent if not exclusive, form of communication. Often drawing and writing are parallel forms in which architecture is communicated. Perhaps there has not been a historical moment in architecture at least since the Renaissance in which writing is so important. The architecture graduate who finishes his or her studies without being able to write enters the professional arena with one hand tied behind his or her back.
This is not about writing reports or briefs or even about writing academic examples. It is about the way in which someone uses a pen to produce himself. Writing is one means whereby we learn who we are and what we think.
Mark Cousins 2014