Philip Watson, Director and Head of Design at HLM Architects, has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
RIBA Fellow Membership is an honorary designation that recognises the achievements of Chartered Members who have made a significant contribution to architecture, the profession, and the community.
Philip, who is responsible for driving design culture across HLM Architects’ five studios, leads the firm’s research and development programme which currently covers design for wellbeing, client engagement, modern methods of construction, special educational needs, and sustainability.
The election panel noted his significant contributions to the profession through thought leadership, practice, and academia. In particular, they noted:
- He led the team that designed two SEN schools in Barnsley as part of the Building Schools for the Future initiative. Notably, Springwell Academy for social, emotional and mental health issues (SEMH) was the subject of study visits by the British Council for School Environments (BCSE) and was highly commended in their 2013 Design Awards.
- Philip later co-authored a paper exploring how the kinaesthetic educational approach promoted at Springwell and its physical manifestation helped deliver a step-change in student outcomes. Leeds City Council subsequently adopted the Springwell model of delivery for all its SEMH provisions and have recently completed a further three schools.
- After initiating a study with Imperial College London to measure the impact of high quality, sustainable environments on people and ‘their performance’, Philip was granted funding to explore the creation of a new digital tool for engagement with building users. The resulting piece of work, ‘WellBriefing’, won the AJ100 Best Use of Technology Award in 2017 with the judges recognising that the tool attempted to ‘make the invisible, visible’.
- Philip regularly teaches at a number of schools of architecture and in 2018, he was awarded ‘Visiting Professor’ at University of Leeds in recognition of his impact on students in bringing industry insight into an academic setting.
- Earlier this year, Philip led the team that created the digital ‘Thoughtful Design Toolkit’ that seeks to define and deliver building occupant needs to support health and wellbeing. This was shortlisted in the BCIA Digital Initiative of the Year 2020 and in the Building Awards Digital Innovation category, also in 2020.
The community of RIBA Fellows highlights the incredible diversity of individuals and their contributions to architecture – a testament of what can be achieved with hard work, commitment, and vision. Fellows of the RIBA demonstrate the great importance of affecting and influencing change in the profession that inspires new strides in architecture.
Commenting on the award, Philip said: “Being elected as a RIBA Fellow is not just a great honour; it’s a testament to my lifelong belief that architecture and design has the power to improve people’s lives. I look forward to continuing to champion positive change across our industry and society in my new ambassadorial role. And it’s not bad for a lad from a Council estate in Birmingham.”