Portsmouth graduate wins Hyphen drawing prize


We are delighted to announce Rachael Butt as the winner of the 2022 Chris Henderson Prize for exceptional drawings as part of her Master’s degree portfolio at the University of Portsmouth.

This Prize was set up in 2016 to honour the memory of Hyphen founder, Chris Henderson.

We wanted to see a candidate’s demonstration of skill in draughtsmanship and a strong level of communication. We have been assessing potential winners from this year’s portfolios and exhibition, alongside the University of Portsmouth, and were very impressed with the standard of Rachael’s work.

Rachael graduated this year with a master’s in architecture and was presented with the prize by Hyphen architectural designer, Ian Henderson. Rachael was awarded a certificate and £500 in prize money.

Rachael focused on creating the future of the Women’s Institute, located in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.  The programme is guided by the three women from the book ‘The City of Ladies’ – ‘Lady Reason’, ‘Lady Rectitude’ and ‘Lady Justice.’ Rachael’s thoughtful design reclaims parts of the historic dockyard, enhancing the area whilst respecting the existing architectural language.

Charlotte Simpson-Munro, senior architect at Hyphen, commented on the quality of Rachael’s work: “We were really impressed by the consistency of Rachael’s portfolio.  Rachael displayed a unique use of hand drawings within the context of architectural renders and sections. In her final key images, Rachael overlayed a mix of media with free hand drawings to help her tell a story and communicate her project, which supported her architectural intent. We thought this was a really successful approach, which aided the viewer in a quick understanding of Rachael’s overall goals. Congratulations Rachael.”

We interviewed Rachael to find out more:

Tell us briefly about your project and what inspired you to focus on this topic?

The Future of the Women’s Institute hopes to serve women as a sanctuary, a place of advocacy and resilience. Set in the Historic Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth, a symbolism of rebellion and reclamation of the dockyards, the institute is protected and guided by the three ladies presented by Christine de Pizan in her book ‘The City of Ladies.’ The influential literary work serves as the basis of my thesis journey, discovering a feminist utopian fortified city, providing a sanctuary for women. Each lady represents part of the ‘Island of Women’, collectively serving the Women’s Institute; Lady Reason, Rectitude and Justice. Canopied by gold, reclaimed from the dockyard, conserving yet disrupting. Inspiring the next generation of female activists.

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

I think it’s two things. One, being the influence of my artistic background. I’ve always loved art and have always wanted to pursue that side of myself into a career. The second is the places I’ve been blessed and fortunate enough to visit. I always remember how Florence, Italy seemed like heaven to me, with its enriched artistic history and beautiful Italian architecture. I think that was the place I decided I wanted to delve into the industry of architecture and design.

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

I visited the Barbara Hepworth Museum in St Ives, Cornwall a long time ago but it has always stuck with me. Hepworth was an artist and sculpture designer, and her studio/home is hidden behind the high street in St Ives. After her death in 1975, her residence was donated to the Tate and turned into a museum of her life’s work. Her gardens were transformed into a paradise of abstract sculptures and her studios opened to visitors with her sketches and photos on display. It remains my favourite place to go and feel inspiration.

What inspires you and your work?

My drawing style is inspired a lot by other designers that I find from Pinterest. I think working collaboratively, learning from others isn’t a weakness, it’s an opportunity and a gift to collectively design. I try to look further than just architecture drawings and look at urban design sketches, digital artwork, hand drawings, graphic designers etc.

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

I feel that a lot of individuality can come through in hand drawing, I also believe mixed media can show both the architectural style and the individuality and passion in a scheme. Creating a balance between hand and digital can elevate an image, and personally helps me understand my project more if I can draw or sketch over it. It’s a dialogue between realism and imagination.

What are your plans after graduation?

After Graduation, I am taking some much-needed rest and relaxation. My advice to any future architecture student is to make sure to take a step back, breathe and come back fresher and better than ever. Overworking is draining and we all need time to recharge. Spending time with family and friends, whilst also enjoying some trips away. After which, I am continuing my Part 2 studies in a work placement.

What do you plan to spend your prize money on?

I’ve had my eye on a new snug reading chair. I’m an avid reader and have been looking for a space to disconnect and get cosy with a good book.

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