Alexander Thomson Scholarship 2017

Alastair Reid - The Complexity of Void

Alastair Reid - The Complexity of Void

The Alexander Thomson Scholarship 2017

The 2017 Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson Scholarship was awarded following a competition to write a persuasive essay on the theme of ‘Legacy’.


Alastair Reid “The Complexity of Void”


Highly Commended
Luke Lupton “Scar Tissue”

The Glasgow Institute of Architects as trustees for the Alexander Thomson Scholarship invited entries from students of architecture and architects under 30 for a persuasive essay on the theme of ‘legacy’ accompanied by one image to illustrate  the entrants argument. The ‘one-off’ scholarship was held to mark the bi-centenary of Thomson’s birth

The competition had just under 40 registrants, with the submitted essays presenting a rich and varied interpretation of legacy.

After much deliberation the entry titled ‘The Complexity of Void’ by Alastair Reid was chosen by the judges to be the winner and the recipient of the Alexander Thomson Scholarship 2017 and the £1000.00 prize.

The judges’ commented that

“By the standard of the entries it was pleasing to see that the art of essay writing was alive and well. In choosing a winner it was always pleasing when something was learned from what you read. The Complexity of Void was a compelling read, a great idea grown from a personal environmental experience that read more like a short story than an essay.”

A submission titled ‘Scar Tissue’ by Luke Lupton was chosen by the judging panel to be ‘Highly Commended’. Both the entrants have been invited to present their essay at the GIA’s inaugural ‘Paper_Cut’ event – a forum for the discussion and communication of architectural ideas.

The judges felt that three other submissions also warranted a special mention:

·         “Cultural Genocide” by Alissar Riachi

·         “Thomson's Legacy: Relatively Greek” by Niall Anderson

·         “Legacies of Disaster and Continuity” by Seb Harrison

The Alexander Thomson Scholarship was established upon the Architect’s death in 1875 “for the purpose of providing a travelling scholarship for the furtherance of the study of ancient classic architecture”. In 1890 the winner was a 22 year old architecture student called Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who used his scholarship on a sketching tour of Europe.

“The GIA Council are delighted to continue the historic tradition of awarding The Alexander Thomson Travelling Scholarship over 140 years after its inception. We felt it was appropriate in Thomson’s Bicentenary Year to hold a distinct scholarship which was written, reflecting Thomson’s use of critical writing as a tool to disseminate ideas. The response produced work of an exceptionally high standard which was a joy to read and it was encouraging to see that in a world of immediate soundbites and tweets that greater time and effort can be applied to create writing that has greater breadth and is more thought provoking ” 

Tim Gray – GIA President


A selection of the essays was published by the GIA in the book, 'Legacy', and the winning essay by Alastair Reid was also published by the RIAS Quarterly.