The dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD), Mohsen Mostafavi, Intl. Assoc. AIA, announced today that Jose Ahedo has won the 2014 Wheelwright Prize. The prize, a $100,000 fellowship, was established in 1935 to allow early career architects the opportunity to travel abroad, and has evolved to encourage young architects to investigate various topics in contemporary design.
Ahedo’s proposal focuses on agricultural research across New Zealand, Mongolia, and Germany, where he will explore the potential of design to create more sustainable practices of food production. Raised on a dairy farm in Spain, Ahedo developed a childhood interest into professional pursuit. One of his recent projects with his Barcelona-based firm, StudioAhedo, is a dairy farm called Blanca, in the Pyrenees, which comprises 13 buildings that handle livestock for dairy production. He is also currently working on an office for bovine genetics company Semex Canada as well as a system of integrated farming software with Tecnozoo Spain. An installation he is designing with Ignacio G. Galan will be on view at the Venice Biennale, after which Ahedo will have two years to conduct his global bovine research project.
“In focusing on farming, Jose Ahedo has constructed a political response to the frameworks we have commonly used to understand the design of cities and urban structures,” juror Inaki Abalos, said in a release. “In doing so, he will produce a study of the very things that impact the way we live and, importantly, the way we design.” Juror Silvia Benedito, added, “I admire how Jose Ahedo proposes to look at animal farming/food production and domestication by investigating design in its various responsibilities. His proposal brings together a wide range of scales, operations, and scopes—from the micro-detail of the fence to the geographical expanse of production.”
Nearly 200 applicants from 46 countries submitted proposals this year. Seven finalists for this year’s fellowship were chosen in April. Although the Wheelwright Prize was formerly available only to alumni of the GSD, the competition became international last year, and is now open to all graduates of professionally accredited programs within the last 15 years. Past winners include Paul Rudolph and I.M. Pei, FAIA; last year, Gia Wolff won for her proposal entitled “Floating City: The Community-Based Architecture of Parade Floats."