University of Sydney architecture student Jasper Ludewig has been awarded the prestigious 2014 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Dissertation Medal.

The RIBA President’s Medals, which date back to 1836, are among the oldest and most prestigious architecture student awards in the world.

The Bachelor of Design in Architecture 2013 honours graduate won for his dissertation, Made Ground: A Spatial History of Sydney Park.

The achievement is all the more significant, beating a highly competitive field of 41 shortlisted students, selected from a nomination call out to 317 schools of architecture in 61 countries – the highest number ever in the history of the awards.

The 2014 Medals were officially announced and presented at a gala ceremony in London on 3 December, which Ludewig attended.

A High Commendation in the Silver Medal category was also awarded to University of Sydney student Justin Cawley for his Master of Architecture graduation studio project An Ark for Endangered Atmospheres.

Screenshot from Made Ground: A Spatial History of Sydney Park, which references how the Sydney Park brick-makers at Bedford Brickworks built the iconic stacks remaining on the site today. As well as describing how the specific product is reflected in the brick architecture of surrounding Sydney suburbs.

Ludewig’s 55,000 word dissertation on the spatial history of Sydney Park in St Peters was completed last year.

It examined the site as a case study against which to introduce tenets of 'Spatial History' - a method of historical inquiry developed by Australian geographer, historian, artist and architect, Paul Carter.

Each of Made Ground's six essays discussed a specific feature in the historical production of space: the landscape painting, the map, the journal and the various place-bound patterns of Australia's settlement. Ludewig obtained First Class Honours and the University Medal for the work last year.

Sydney Park pictured for the 21 year celebration of its modern upgrade, in 2012. Image: SMH

University of Sydney’s Professor John Redmond, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning said: “This is an incredible achievement by our two students, as well as the teaching staff in the Faculty.  Receiving a RIBA President’s Medal is a great honour and acknowledgement of our students as amongst the ‘best of the best’.”

Ludewig commented: “My initial reaction was one of disbelief. I thought there must have been a mix up with names when I was first told. The Medal adds even more significance to the very rewarding year I spent in research and has opened up a future of new and exciting opportunities!”

The judging panel for the RIBA Dissertation Medal consisted of four academics from the UK’s Kingston University, London Metropolitan University, Kent University and Mackintosh School of Architecture.

Dr Ross Anderson, a senior lecturer in architecture at the University of Sydney, and Jasper’s research supervisor, said: “The judges remarked how impressed they were with Jasper’s intellectual rigour and his ability to critically employ aspects of contemporary architectural discourse to his chosen topic” and that “it was comparable in quality to many PhD dissertations that they had supervised or examined.”

Ludewig is Sydney-born and lives in Marrickville. He passed by Sydney Park on the way to the University of Sydney every day for four years, which is where his interest in the park was born as an ‘every day’ place.

An exhibition at RIBA’s London headquarters will feature Ludewig’s winning work for two months, before the exhibition tours the UK and internationally.

The University of Sydney’s annual end-of-year exhibition of work by graduating architecture students opened on Thursday 4 December in the Wilkinson Building of the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning and runs until 18 December 2014.