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Access, support and social benefit shine in MacEwen Award entries

Eleanor Young

Architects showed their enthusiasm to help and support everyone in society again this year in a rich and thoughtful clutch of MacEwen Award entries

Access and support were concepts that came up again and again in this year’s evaluation of the entries for 2021’s RIBAJ MacEwen Award, supported by BDP. They may not be architectural concepts but they were clear drivers of the best projects, whatever the location or budget.

Judges Denise Bennetts, co-founder of Bennetts Associates; Kathy MacEwen, planner and daughter of Malcolm and Anni MacEwen for whom the awards are named; Robyn Poulson, architect at BDP; Percy Weston of Surman Weston – MacEwen Award 2021 winner for Hackney School of Food – and I were trying to test the importance of the architect and its design in delivering access and support to their client, and going beyond that to an architecture for the common good.

It was a lesson in the breadth of design with collaborative consultations, new forms of procurement, building partnerships between the owners of space and potential users and unexpected and imaginative repurposing. They all played their part in creating the most impact for organisations that were having to raise every penny. Seeing ingenuity and dedication that unlocks spaces, and what it can bring people, has been a privilege.

Credit: Francisco Ibáñez Hantke

Winner: Nourish Hub, Edward Wood Estate, LB Hammersmith & Fulham by Nourish Hub by RCKa and Inner Circle Consulting

Shops turned food bank and café using co-creation through business plan, design and operation with the aim of eliminating hunger and foodwaste

Credit: Hufton and Crow

Commended: Black Country & Marches Institute of Technology, Zoological Way, Dudley by Cullinan Studio on behalf of the Dudley IoT Project Alliance (Dudley College, Cundall, Speller Metcalfe, GCA, Derry Building Services, Fulcro and Cullinan Studio)

Experimental insurance model helped the whole construction team to pull together to create a sustainable and inexpensive vocational college

Commended: St Margaret’s Church, Southsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire by Studio BAD Architects

Workshopped, phased interventions make many new activities possible from play and café to food bank

Commended: A Common Plan for Claridge Way, Claridge Way, the Moorings, Thamesmead, London by Jan Kattein Architects with Peabody

Thamesmead route turned into a series of events working with different community groups


For more of the best MacEwen Award projects over the years see


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