Eleanor Young introduces this year's Schueco Excellence Award winners
In this technological age it is increasingly difficult for an architect to master the whole building process. When buildings were constructed by carpenters and stonemasons there was a chance that they could. Now, as components of different materials and dimensions are brought together offsite with high performing products, specification can make your head spin.
Specialists such as Schueco engineer facades that look simple but conceal a myriad of high tech choices. Years of research are hidden behind their slim, elegant aluminium (or perhaps steel) caps. Here is insulation, security, vents and concealed automated systems.
Practices such as New York-based Richard Meier & Partners Architects, designer of the outstanding house that has taken first prize in this year’s Schueco Excellence Awards, may be well versed in clean-lined modernist design. But translating that into a project for an Oxfordshire hillside takes local know-how as well as technical expertise. Luckily, architects have guides through this maze. Working out the best choices and bringing the wider facade and window components together are the specialist contractors. Advising and collaborating with architects, they bring great experience of the products and their buildability.
In the Schueco Excellence Awards, produced in association with the RIBA Journal, we have always celebrated the buildings that have flowed from these collaborations between architects and specialist contractors. This year we saw the outstanding contribution of specialist contractor award winner Alumet on a number of impressive buildings, and heard how the company has grown in scale and expertise to the point where it can take on prestigious and dramatic residential towers.
The six judges – architects and facade experts themselves – questioned the projects hard. Were they really innovative? How did they show creativity? Where did the technical skill lie? How did they demonstrate collaboration? Read on to see the projects that survived that grilling to excel as winners in the Schueco Excellence Awards 2017.
Eleanor Young is executive editor of the RIBA Journal. Her expertise is in looking at and communicating architecture, from the detail through to the big picture.
Steven Kennedy is associate principal at Grimshaw. He was a key member of the Reading Station design team and a project leader of a botanic garden masterplan in the Middle East. He was one of RIBA Journal’s inaugural Rising Stars in 2016.
Steve Mudie is a partner specialising in facades at London-based cost consultant alinea consulting. He provides high-level strategic facade advice, supported by close relationships with the diverse supply chain.
Pankaj Patel is a founding director at Patel Taylor Architects. He has a special interest in layering high density development in London’s built environment and looks to the grain of streets, squares and gardens to inform contemporary urban design.
Paul Savidge is managing director of facade engineering consultancy Wintech. He has a background in specialist facade engineering and dispute resolution. He provides contractual advice and facade consultancy on major new building projects.
Cindy Walters is director and co-founder of Walters & Cohen Architects. Projects she has led include the award-winning Regent High School, the Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens and Vajrasana Buddhist Retreat Centre.