Tarn Philipp

2015 winner

Tarn Philipp is a South African, London-based architect and independent researcher. He first visited Ethiopia in 2014 and was captivated by the country, from the rich culture and exotic food to the dramatic landscape and innovative architecture. Tarn was fascinated by the age, scale, construction method, highly refined masonry and location of many surviving buildings, notably the rock-hewn churches of Tigray. Ethiopian Christian Architecture formed the topic of his dissertation and in 2015 he was awarded the ADAM Architecture Travel Scholarship, which enabled a return visit to Ethiopia to study the rock-hewn churches in detail. Over a six-week period he was able to visit some 20 churches, conducting measured survey of eight churches in Tigray Region and a complex of four churches in Amhara Region. The tradition of carving a church out of solid rock has undergone a revival in recent years. He was fortunate to visit recently carved churches, meet and interview a craftsman responsible and witness the remarkable process of excavation first-hand. The ADAM Architecture Travel Scholarship enabled Tarn to put into practice the knowledge gleaned in architectural school through a self-directed research project. He has returned to Ethiopia every year since 2014 to conduct significant research on new rock-hewn churches.

Tarn has worked at David Kohn Architects since 2016 and pursued his interest in Ethiopia through an Arcadia Fund research project (2016-2020). He is also a recipient of the Venice Biennale Research Fellowship (2018) from London Met, and AJ Small Projects: Sustainable Project Award (2020).

Tarn Philipp


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