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Top design award for Leeds Beckett student


A Leeds Beckett student has scooped a top design award at a national show.

Esme Kilshaw

Esme Kilshaw, who studied BA (Hons) Interior Architecture and Design and graduates next week, came first out of more than 500 students from 34 universities. She was awarded the Interior Educators prize for ‘Best in Show 2017’ for her final major project –a highly individual and self-initiated brief: A space for Hydro-cremation and Hydro-burial as a two-part process.

On winning the award, Esme said: “It’s amazing and was the biggest shock ever. The Chair of Interior Educators spoke to me afterwards and said it was such an interesting project and very exciting.”

Explaining her inspiration, for her project which is called ‘Islands of the Soul’, Esme said: “My project is based in the Orkney islands. It’s a special place to me as I have personal connections with the beautiful and remote islands. It is a magical place and this concept has been incorporated in each and every part of my design. Orkney is renowned for its amazing historic background. Life and death is engraved into the Orcadians landscape and my chosen brief, Hydro cremation has born from this.

“My project is a hydro-crematorium, which is an eco-friendly version of cremation, only available in America at the moment. The body is dissolved in a mixture of water and potassium hydroxide. The bones become soft and porous and can then be crushed into a fine, white ash which is then placed in an urn. The rest of the body becomes a liquid which can then be recycled back into nature as fertilizer for a memorial garden or forest.

Esme Kilshaw design project

“The key visual tells little about my design but everything about my project. It is the visual essence and evokes site and rhythms inherent to the site and building. Key themes are illustrated, explored and defined. It clearly shows journey is a vital part of my scheme as well as capturing the magical atmosphere of the site. The materials used create a visual complexity and provide a different sense of moods to support the mourner depending on where they are during that journey. The congregation walkway appears cold, created by long rocks taken from Hoxa head cliff. Steel sheets then form the entrance providing a frame and a focus point during this part of the journey. This will be like walking into a secluded box before breaking free and being engulfed by the magnificent view of Scapa Flow. Verdigo will line the tower as well as lining the inside of the centre stand. This symbolises memories that are casted changing the surface. Gold leaf forms the water pipe that takes the water from the celebration space into Scapa Flow. This is a pure element and represents a lifeline.”

Esme says her course, in Interior Architecture and Design, gave her the freedom she wanted: “My course at Leeds Beckett has really helped to open so many different doors – I feel that I can go into anything and I’m considering doing a Masters in Architecture. It was a great course because it gave me the freedom to choose my own projects and I really enjoyed my time in Leeds.”

Senior Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University’s School of Art, Architecture and Design, Joan Love, said: “Esme has tackled a highly complex and challenging brief with compassion and sensitivity, which relates closely to her chosen site at Scapa Flow, in the Orkney Isles. Her design drawings evoke an illustrative quality which is highly imaginative and transcends the viewer into a dream-like world, inspiring a sense of spiritual mystery.

“Esme has achieved two goals on the course this year: attaining a first class honours degree, and running the London Marathon for charity; both requiring skills of commitment, pace and endurance which will be attractive attributes to any employer.”

Esme also won ‘The Interior Architecture Design Practice Placement Award 2017’ and starts her placement at shedkm, architects and designers in their Liverpool office next month.

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