RIBA South West Awards 2018

With the lion’s share of England’s historic buildings here, you can boost cultural value easily, says Andrew Vines

One quarter of all England’s listed buildings, and one third of its scheduled monuments, are in the South West. History is rich in these parts. It’s woven into the fabric of society and it’s part of our everyday. Collectively it presents a litany of almost every construction material used through the ages.

So in a time of change, what’s the future for all this past? The government puts an emphasis on making great places, and with good reason. The historic environment is at the core of our towns and cities cultural quality, and we’ve made huge strides in some of our urban environments in recent decades. Oft-quoted examples such as Plymouth’s Royal William Yard and Exeter Princesshay have led the way where others follow, and we can look forward to creative developments in the likes of Swindon’s Carriage Works conversion, quayside development at Hayle, and Tiverton Riverside, to name but three.

In the past, the ‘style’ debate has polarised opinion from Poundbury to Bath and a few places in between. Honest contemporary next to slavish pastiche can be a touch disorientating if, like me, you navigate the world by architecture. Are we at last reaching a consensus on style? Modern interventions which keep the significance of historic sites and provide a sustainable future should help diffuse the debate.

But challenges lie ahead. There’s no shortage of crystal balls predicting the market’s ­response to seismic retail change in our commercial centres. Historic England’s Heritage Action Zones, led by local needs, are here to help. In Weston-super-Mare we are using our skills and resources to help ensure the town’s heritage plays a part in its regeneration.

Exciting times. So let us approach design opportunities with inspiration and creativity – and respect (humility even) for what’s there. That way we will help develop the cultural value of the South West’s places, and the wellbeing of its communities. After all, it’s just good design; and good town planning. 

Andrew Vines is planning director for Historic England in the South West


Click the images to find out more

Temple Gardens, Temple Cloud
Temple Gardens, Temple Cloud Credit: Andy Tye

Archio for Bath & Stratford Homes Ltd

 

 

Pengwynver, Penzance
Pengwynver, Penzance Credit: James Ram

Stan Bolt Architect for private client

 

 

New Tate St Ives, Cornwall
New Tate St Ives, Cornwall Credit: Nick Hufton

Jamie Fobert Architects with Evans & Shalev for Tate St Ives

 

 

James Grayley Architects for private client
James Grayley Architects for private client Credit: David Grandorge

James Grayley Architects for private client

 

 

Coastal House, Devon
Coastal House, Devon Credit: Johan Dehlin

6a architects for private client

 

 

Charlie Bigham's Food Production Campus, Wells
Charlie Bigham's Food Production Campus, Wells Credit: Max Creasy

Feilden Fowles for Charlie Bigham's Ltd

 

 

Challender Court, Bristol
Challender Court, Bristol Credit: Craig Auckland

Emmett Russell Architects for Bristol City Council

 

 

Brunel Building, Southmead Hospital, Bristol
Brunel Building, Southmead Hospital, Bristol Credit: Hufton+Crow

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