An architecture student from Manchester Met’s Manchester School of Architecture has been awarded the Women in Property North West Student Award.

Second year BA (Hons) Architecture student Letitia Zhao presented her work to a panel of industry judges and fought off competition from ten other students from a range of built environment courses.

Zhao impressed judges with her innovative designs for a research laboratory where researchers can develop new sustainable biomaterials, as well as attached accommodation.

She was presented with the prize at an awards ceremony which took place in Manchester and will now go on to the National Students Awards in London on September 19, alongside other regional winners.

Zhao said: “I feel honoured and grateful to have won the prize for Women in Property North West. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my tutors, colleagues, and members of Women in Property, whether this was advice on my designs or moral support.

“The existence of organisations like Women in Property is essential to supporting women in the industry and providing inspiration to people like me, who are just starting to find their way in this field. I’m grateful for the knowledge and opportunities I’ve gained through this process. I’m looking forward to progressing to the national final in September, where I can hopefully meet more inspiring people and continue to learn about architecture.”

Zhao impressed judges with her innovative designs for sustainable research and development laboratory
Zhao impressed judges with her innovative designs for sustainable research and development laboratory

Zhao’s project mycelial palimpsest explores designs for accommodation and a laboratory where researchers can develop new sustainable biomaterials including fungi. At the heart of her design is the use of recycled materials to increase sustainability.

Dragana Opačić Wilkinson, Lecturer in Architecture and BA2 Architecture lead at Manchester School of Architecture, said: “We are delighted that Letitia has been awarded the Women in Property North West 2024 Student Award. Women in Property are great champions of promoting the next generation of women entering construction and related industries.

“Her nomination was based on having excellent academic results in year one and over the past two years, Letitia’s ability to synthesise the learning from different areas of her course and her inquisitive nature have led to producing innovative and exploratory architectural design projects. Her excellent drawing and spatial skills make her an ideal student of architecture. She possesses all the attributes necessary for further personal growth, leading her to becoming an accomplished architect. We wish her all the best in continuing her studies and the future.”

At the heart of Zhao’s design is the use of recycled materials to increase sustainability
At the heart of Zhao’s design is the use of recycled materials to increase sustainability

The annual Women In Property National Student Awards seek out the best built environment degree students. Over the past 18 years, more than 1,600 students have been through the awards programme which explores their course work, challenges their wider industry knowledge and encourages them to hone and develop their interpersonal skills.

Many students go on to secure work placements as a result of competing in the awards, which often translate into permanent positions after graduating.

Manchester Met is celebrating its 200 year anniversary in 2024 and for the next few weeks will be looking at how creative excellence has been championed across two centuries – and continues to shape the industry today.

Just last month Manchester School of Architecture was once again named in the top five of the QS World Subject Rankings, maintaining last year’s success and its highest-ever position – as well as second in the UK.