UNSW graduate wins 2023 Architect’s Medallion

04 Aug 2023
A group of five Architect's Medallion winners, showing two women and three men, with UNSW winner Samantha Rich at the centre

Master of Architecture graduate and UNSW Adjunct Lecturer Samantha Rich has been recognised for her work with the Dharriwaa Elders Group in Walgett.

Wiradjuri architect and researcher Samantha Rich has been awarded the 2023 Architect’s Medallion by the NSW Architects Registration Board (ARB). The medallion is given annually to a NSW Master of Architecture (MArch) graduate who has achieved distinction both in a particular subject area at the final level and generally throughout the two years of the course.

Bringing a First Nations perspective to design

Throughout her work, in particular with the Yuwaya Ngarra-li Partnership between the Dharriwaa Elders Group and UNSW, Ms Rich has shown her dedication to embedding a First Nations worldview into the design of buildings and the broader built environment. Her particular focus is on addressing systemic housing needs facing many remote and regional communities.

The NSW ARB said: “In awarding the Architect’s Medallion, the NSW ARB affirms its dedication to nurturing emerging talent and promoting architectural innovation, inclusivity and diversity. The Medallion recognises those who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and bring distinct perspectives and design ideologies to the benefit of their communities and the built environment.”

For her MArch project, Gamil dhuningarraay baa/Place of older person: Aging in place in Walgett, Reciprocity of care, Ms Rich worked with the Dharriwaa Elders Group in Walgett to design culturally led housing for Elders that meets community needs and priorities around connection to family, culture and Country. It built on the findings of a qualitative study resourced by a UNSW Ageing Futures Institute grant that found housing was an urgent unmet need for Elders in Walgett. The Dharriwaa Elders Group is keen to secure funding to have this innovative model of Elders housing built in Walgett.

This is not the first award that Ms Rich has earned for her MArch work. She also received the Andrew Taylor Memorial Prize for an outstanding student whose work demonstrates sensitivity to project context, site and the Australian landscape. In 2022, she was listed on the Arts, Design & Architecture Dean’s List.

“Receiving the Architect’s Medallion represents wide recognition of Samantha as an agent for change by the NSW Architects Registration Board,” said Eva Lloyd, Senior Lecturer in the School of Built Environment and Samantha’s MArch project supervisor.

“Samantha’s deeply thoughtful approach brings Indigenous knowledges and communities to the fore, challenging the status quo to inform the way we shape our built environments.”

Ms Rich continues to work with the Yuwaya Ngarra-li Partnership and is also the Director of the design firm walumarra studio, which provides Connecting with Country consultation, RAP advice and design services.

Upcoming Yuwaya Ngarra-li webinar

To learn more about Ms Rich’s work, join her and Yuwaya Ngarra-li UNSW Director Ruth McCausland in conversation online on Thursday 10 August at 3pm.

Learn more and register.


Featured image, from left to right: Grace Mclean (UON), Jeffrey Lui (USYD), Samantha Rich (UNSW), Martin Wzros (UTS), Christopher Teo (WSU). Credit: ARB NSW.