Chris Henderson Drawing Prize 2020

Chris Henderson Drawing Prize: Sponsored by Hyphen

September 2021

Jessica Burton has been awarded the 2020 Chris Henderson Drawing Prize. Originally scheduled for last year, Jessica received the award at a recent graduation ceremony, due to restrictions in place for the pandemic. Jessica graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a BA (Hons) in Interior Architecture and Design.

The award was established in 2016 in memory of one of our founders, Chris Henderson and recognizes excellence in technique, skill and care in architectural draughtsmanship. Jessica has received a certificate and cheque for £500 for drawings of ‘The House’ – a place for young adults to learn practical life-skills not taught in schools, and instead taught by local businesses. A repurposed fish market in old Portsmouth has been reimagined as a two-storey community centre with a striking exterior that visually and theoretically forms links across the harbour. The interior is a multipurpose, vibrant but considered, genderless environment.

We interviewed Jessica to find out more about the person behind this wonderful project:


Who or what influenced you to pursue a career in architecture?

Many visits to National Trust properties as a child sparked my interest in architecture. I was fascinated by lavish adornment and structures unlike the semi I had grown up in. It opened my eyes to what other amazing buildings and interiors could be out there.


What do you enjoy most about studying architecture?

I have always been invested in fine art and wanted to find a career path that would allow me to find a practical application for my passion. How people feel within a space is very important to me. I aspire to influence important environments that allow people to function in the best way possible. I love that design has the power to influence emotion and to implement this through architecture is truly moving and significant to a person’s wellbeing.


What’s the most interesting place you’ve visited and why?

The Royal Pavilion in Brighton is a frivolous, but magical concoction of chinoiserie and Indian designs. A building that captured me from the first sight of its onion shaped domes but stunned me further on sight of the gilded dragons hanging from the highly adorned ceilings. I wrote my dissertation on the pavilion focusing on ‘Space as an Expression of the Client’s Identity’, a party palace indeed!


Who or what inspires you and your work?

I find a lot of excitement and inspiration in retro mid-19th century furniture, patterns and colours. I love the experimental nature of the period and the bold forms. However, I like to constantly challenge my aesthetic stance against my practical, purposeful opinions, taking reference from the idea of ‘form follows function’.


Why do you think drawing is important in today’s increasingly digital world?

Drawing is the quickest method of communicating an idea. The ability to communicate an idea instantly to someone else by sketching a diagram instantly is so powerful and allows conclusions to be met so much quicker. The reaction of a client from a verbal explanation in comparison to a drawing is incomparable; a means of expression not only to clarify an idea but to evoke emotion!


What do you plan to spend your prize money on?

I plan to save my prize money. As boring as this may seem, my goal is to re-develop existing buildings into homes. I would love the challenge of creating meaningful, considered, beautiful spaces in unused buildings. This is an industry that needs a lot of investment, so I’ll keep working hard and saving in the meantime.