Students Breitner Academy and Academy of Architecture win AHK Graduation Prizes 2023

Isabella Giacomelli & Maria Khozina (all photos by Erwin van Amstel)

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On 25 January 2024, the twelfth edition of the AHK Graduation Prize took place during the Awardy Party in the Melkweg. The graduates from the class of 2023 pitched their multifaceted projects for the audience. The prize in the Bachelor’s category was won by Isabella Giacomelli (Breitner Academy) for her thesis De (on)bevangen leerruimte. The prize in the Master’s category was presented to Maria Khozina (Academy of Architecture) for her project Average Place. The audience voted for Fun in Failure by Gina Sanches and Melvin van der Woude (Master of Education in Arts) as winner of the audience award.

Bachelor’s winner
Isabella Giacomelli graduated from the Fine Art in Education programme at the Breitner Academy with her thesis De (on)bevangen leerruimte. From the jury report: ‘It is unique that a trainee teacher is assertive enough to dare to offer solutions for such a complex topic as social safety and student well-being. This topical and practically-applicable study is an example of solution-oriented thinking with a handbook for teachers as end result. Personal experience, extensive literature research and a field survey form the basis.’

Master’s winner
Maria Khozina graduated from the Master in Architecture at the Academy of Architecture with her research project Average Place. From the jury report: ‘This graduation project displays strong self-reflection on one’s own field and thus transcends the field of architecture. Maria’s extensive research reveals a search for her role as an architect in the authoritarian state of Russia. She wants to connect people and get them thinking through the use of creative machines. Maria has not taken the easy path; the fact that she questions her own role demonstrates courage and strength. The jury was deeply affected by her activism.’

Audience award
The audience award was determined by those present in the Melkweg. The award was presented to Gina Sanches and Melvin van der Woude (Master of Education in Arts, Breitner Academy) for their arts educational design Fun in Failure. They started a project in order to introduce girls to the world of IT through art.

Criteria and jury
The Graduation Prize of the Amsterdam University of the Arts consists of a cash prize of €2,000 in the Bachelor’s and Master’s categories and an audience award worth €500.

Five Bachelor’s projects and five Master’s projects from the different academies were nominated. The jury assessed all entries on the basis of three criteria: the quality of the work, the way in which the graduates made a connection with the outside world and the relevance of their work for the development of the field.

The jury this year consisted of Liesbeth Kok (chair), Amber Kortzorg, Ellen Oosterwijk, Hanna Prinssen and Martin van Engel.

Check out all nominated projects of the AHK Graduation Prize


Melvin van der Woude & Gina Sanches